Sound — 10
The sound on this album is simply amazing, each song is layered in so many different ways and contain so many hidden touches that it's difficult to pick them all up at first. I've had this album for over a year and am still finding new sounds in some of the songs, I've found it's best to listen to this album through a good set of headphones rather than speakers to fully appreciate all the little touches. You can really tell how much work was put into the making of this album, especially if you watch the dvd that came with it (they even use paint cans to make the marching effect on the intro). The guitar work on this album is exemplary, just listen to the speed metal riff on the beginning of Stockholm Syndrome or the Paranoid, effects driven solo on Hysteria to see what I mean. The piano and vocal work is also stunning, Matt Bellamy has a vocal range unlike anyone I've ever heard and his voice swoops and soars as the instruments are played to a frenzy in the background. The bass and drum work is similarly impressive, bass intros usually don't go down too well but somehow the intros to Hysteria and Time Is Running Out make the whole song. The drumming is excellent and really fits the song well, listen to The machine gun drum roll as Stockholm Syndrome gets into gear to see what I mean.
Lyrics — 6
Muse are very hit and miss with lyrics, they tend to write their best songs when they're not trying to be too pretentious and just writing songs for the sake of songs. This can best be seen on some of their earlier work (especially songs like Muscle Museum and Darkshines) however on this album it seems like they have been too caught up in the whole "End Of The World" thing and haven't focused enough on writing individual songs. The best example of this is probably in TSP when Matt sings "and be my slave to the grave/I'm the priest god never paid", it seems a bit too pompous to be effective. This is not to say that muse write "bad" lyrics, just that they don't hold the same haunting quality as say someone like Thom York's (see bulletproof I Wish I Was, Let Down And Exit Music) or Kurt Cobain (Something In The Way, Dumb, All Apologies). It's a shame really because I honestly believe that if they could write lyrics that matched their instrumental genius they would go down as one of the best bands of all time.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall I'd say that despite it's flaws absolution is still one of my favourite albums, and considering that muse are still an incredibly young band (mid 20's) this album really shows just how amazing they could become. If it was lost I'd definitely buy it again.