Sound — 7
Well, I have to admit, I've never been a super massive fan of Muse, (if you'll excuse the pun), but on impulse buy I decided to give Black Holes and Revelations a shot; after a brief listen in the car on the way home I skipped through the tracks with an analytical eye and found nothing grabbed me like the classics 'Bliss' or 'Plug In Baby'. I was disapointed with Absolution and thought this might be the end of my interest in them. However, when I got the cd home and listened to it all the way through I realised that Muse have focused on a more pure direction in thier music. That of creating music that would be fitting of thier title of 'best live band 2005', designed specifically to blow the mind upon going to a Muse concert. The revival of the arena rock genre might just be here, and in the world of the NME 10 minute band it's a noble cause to be supporting. The sound of the CD itself harks back to the classic arena bands of old, such as the Queen influenced harmonies on 'Soldier's Poem' or the final song 'Kinghts Of Cydonia' which to me reminds me of Zeppelin's 'Achille's Last Stand' in both terms of urgency and the fact that MUSE's subject matter is nearly as diverse as Zep's referances to Greek mythology and Tolkien. The album itself is much more cohesive in comparison to Absolution and is the obvious fruits of four years work. The MUSE trademarks are all present and correct in songs such as 'Starlight', 'Invincible' and 'Exo-Politics', with Matt's formiddable vocal, use of arpeggios and classical bombastic style and orchestration. Muse also have a few new tricks up thier sleeves; such as spanish style guitar in 'City Of Delusion', (which is reminiscient of 'Recess' off Hullabaloo Soundtrack', the rave style 'Map Of The Problematique', which is my personal favorite on the album, and of course the viceral funk groove of 'Supermassive Black Hole'. The only negative I can find with the album, is that although it is apparently cohesive, only half of the songs stand alone as exciting to listen to at this point in time, ('Starlight', 'Supermassive Black Hole', 'Map Of The Problematique', 'Assassin', 'Exo Politics' and 'Knights Of Cydonia'). This is probably due to the fact that I prefer thier heavier, more guitar based material. Overall sound is crafted to astound, and although the true force of the music is not apparent from just listening to the CD, it's a massive incentive for me to go see this band live. From armchair to activist it seems.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on the album are again very much in the vein of Absolution, based around the curious mind of Matt Bellemy, who's interest in conspiricy and science fiction fuels the band's indivdual approach. This again reminds me of Led Zeppelin's work, and that of the earlier arena rock bands, with an interest in fiction, as well as romantic content (Muse appear to generally focus on these as two tiers of thier writing style, exemplary of this is the differance in content of 'Exo-Politics' to 'Invincible'). Although due to the focus on technology, romance and politcal partisanship nature of the lyrics (notably the introduction 'Take A Bow'), it could be said that Muse limit thier audience, and alienate neutrals, (for example a lot of my friends find not only the lyrics, but Matt's singing style overly flamboyant and elaborate). Which is a shame, as Muse generally become overlooked by mainstream rock fans for these reasons.
Overall Impression — 8
From listening to earlier matterial, I'm impressed by the way in which the band have varied and evolved thier style, from what was essentially a band that was seen as radiohead 2 into space rock pioneers. The innovations keep coming, and this is why I believe Muse have something much more exciting to offer the world of music than bands which come and go, because the best way to experiance music is to see the band live. 01. Take A Bow - essentially a more focused introduction than that of Absolution. Not really a song I would listen to on it's own merit, fits well into the structure of the album. 02. Starlight - magical, song which shows the MUSE can still write inspiration music, without being too over the top, works well in contrast to previous song, due to simple melodies. 03. Supermassive Black Hole - funky and fresh, I enjoy this song alot, as the chorus is catchy, and induces groove. Singing style is differant from 'Starlight' (higher up) and contrats well. So far so good. 04. Map Of The Problematique - another different style of song introduced. I can only imagine how awesome this would be live, inducing a rave in the stadium. Works well with Matt's vocal and is my favorite song on the album. 05. Soldier's Poem - reminscient of Queen style vocal, I essentially see this as an 'Interlude' which strengthens the structure of the album as a whole. Not too long and dragged out and allows a rest from the spectacle of the start of the album. Not one of my favorites though. 06. Invincible - classic romantic Muse. Not generally the style that I'm fond off, but is a song that I can see my self liking in the future. Use of organ is expressive, but not as emotive as 'Megalomania' from Origin Of Symmetry, which wouldnt have gone amiss on this album. 07. Assassin - quite a strong song, with a basis on riffs, but lacks the hook of the next track, and becomes forgettable. Possibly a track that I'll have to listen a few more times before appreciating fully. 08. Exo-Politics - a great track, with good structure throughout and would be a classic live. Quite funky, with a good chorus break. Best lyric of the album 'fully loaded satalites' sung with conviction. One of my favorites. 09. City Of Delusion - Spanish style guitar is effective, and suits the style. Again a song with a good chorus break, and would be good live, although possibly not in the vein of older material, as spanish guitar style seems to detract from the awe of live materials. 10. Hoodoo - again influence by spanish style guitar and heavy influence of classical romantic piano, another forgettable track on the album however as it falls between the void of undecided style, I essentially view this as an introduction to the next track. 11. Knights Of Cydonia - Muse's take on the rock epic, although not as epic as 'Citizen Erased' in my opinion. A strong track to end the album with and drives forward well, I can imagine this being amazing live and it has been noted as a classic. Although the album is not perfect, I believe that Muse are moving in the right direction with thier music, and if focused utterly on providing the best material for a live show, could produce a album of groundbreaking proportions, hopefully resulting in Muse becoming one of the best bands in the world, in terms of inspirational material aswell as astounding live shows. Needless to say, from listening to this, I'm much more interested in what the bad have to offer the world of music, and in thier own words, would hate to see them 'fade away'.