Sound — 10
When I first began to read hype around this new album, I was skeptical. The members of Muse continued to go on about how deeply their breathtaking concert at the 2004 Glastonbury (one of my favorite concerts to watch) had changed theme, both as people, and as a band. As soon as I heard the album however, I saw just how right they were. Gone are the sweeping romantic style piano solos, reminiscent of Rachmaninoff. Gone are the moments that leave you bowing to the floor in salute of any one of the highly skilled members of the band, and I miss those moments greatly. Istead they are replaced by something that may be even more awe-inspiring ovall though. This CD is filled with moments that will leave you agape at the sound of the whole band. They have matured greatly in the years since absolution, and are able to paint a rich soundscape as a full band, filling this new album with string parts that add a vivid spacey feel to the entire work. Their sound, though still stretching in every direction, is pulled together tighter than it has been on past albums, giving it a strong direction, but still allowing it freedom to stray off the beaten path, even for them, going far enough to incorporate a mariachi style guitar, and trumpet parts in the final two songs of the album. There is still plenty of diverity throughout the album, with moving ballads (Invincible and Starlight), a dance toon that you'll never get out of your head (Supermassive Black Hole), their new style of spacy-sounding string scored rock that they've moved up a step from Absolution, pools of cascading, preachy explosions (most notably Take A Bow), and most shockingly, Assasin, which takes songs like Stockholme Syndrome a step further, opening with a needling guitar riff that you half expect to be followed up by an impossibly fast synthesiser run, and the tortured screaming of Children of Bodom's Alexi "Wildchild" Laiho. Somehow, howeve, they manage to reign the sound in a bit, and make this album feeel like one solid, coherent peice of music. One of the largest dissapointments here is, as mentioned earlier, the lack of moments that truly make any single member of the band shine. There are very few true guitar solos here. There are no piano parts that stretch out forever evoking any and every enotion and, most notably, the bass has been greatly scaled back. Chris Wolstenholme is an amazing bassist who can throw out speedy, precise riffs like those in Hysteria with both hands tied behind his back. You won't find mugh of that on Black Holes and Revalations though. Whenever there is anything vary exciting going on with the bass (my favortie is a well written decending line that comes in about halfway through Invincible) the volume is turned way down, making way for their new, spacy sound. The one exception to this rule is in Supermassive Black Hole, which is driven by a pumping bass, with the presence and distortion cranked up as far as it can go. But frankly, though I love this song, the bass part failed to impress me. Close inspection shows this to be a slightly juiced up version of the bass pert from Time is runing out in a different key. No problem there, it still sounds great, but other than invincible the bass didn't really jump out and grab me like it usually does with Muse. A fine new sound for a band that is begining to settle down a bit and get comfortable with what they do. They change it up a bit, and they really manage enrich there style on this album, sounding like way more than three people. I'm eager to see how they pull off this much sound live.
Lyrics — 10
Matthew Bellamy's voice soars over the music as triumphant as always, speaking of twisted conspiraicies, aliens coming down from the skies, and proclaiming undying love. The difference you can here in this album is an overall feeling of hope. No longer is it sung by an observer of life, but a man who is willing to be proactive, and sees that change is possible. Sometimes this is shown with frightening anger, and a willingness to throw off the chains of the old, espsecially in Assassin, a song which describes just exactly what the name would have you think. Bellamy preaches instead of warns, as if trying to give rise to a new world order of sorts, and he makes you want to follow him. The writing, as usual with Muse, is impeccable. He manages to evoke exactly the feelings he wants, when he wants, and he leeves you wishing you could write lyrics like he could.
Overall Impression — 10
Black Holes and Revalations is a beutiful soundscape of spacey rock and Matthew Bellamy's high-pitched vocals soaring over the music. They change up their sound a lot, both within the album, and from earlier works, but there is obviously drive and direction behind this music. Bellamy urges us to take action and change the world for the better before it is too late. In ways, this CD even reminds me of Radiohead's Kid A. It took a few minutes for this concept to grow on me, but now that I've become acclimated to the CD, I just can't put it down, with track like Invincible haunting my thoughts for days at a time. Even with stiff competition from Keane, Thom Yorke, Andrew WK's anticipated comeback, and Queensryche, this could very well be the best album of the year.