Sound — 9
Black Holes & Revelations is Muse's 4th studio album. In my opinion, it is the best Muse album to date. I'll explain why. Though I cannot deny the genius of the preceding Absolution, the brilliant concept album, Black Holes may be less of a album and more of a collection of great songs written between the two, the latter is musically more well-written and beautiful. Muse's style has become a whole lot more sophisticated since the debut in-your-face prog-rock album Showbiz (which I love). Instead of loud, sneering guitars and explosive drums they started writing songs with heavenly vocals and more thought-through structure. Some may call it a waste, I consider it a development.
Lyrics — 8
01. Take A Bow: the techno, anxious intro to the album is an example of Muse's new sound: strings and keyboards playing fast riffs where the mood is important. A good, solid opener though not one of the best in my humble opinion. 3.5/5 02. Starlight: though it might be too "poppy" for the Muse purists out there, it's definitely a great song. The intro offers a slightly-too simple riff but when ready switches to the louder bridge. This song also has beautiful lyrics (Hold you here in my arms/I just wanted to hold) and is yet another example of Bellamy's amazing vocal qualities, comparable to Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant. 4/5 03. Supermassive Black Hole: this song is hated upon by Muse fans because of the Twilight "incident". Nevertheless, I consider the best muse song ever. It starts off with a catchy riff including a great drum beat, begging you to start jumping through your own house, but the choruses contain some of the best vocal harmonies I've ever heared by Muse, alike Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. The solo is also great, not your average rock solo but an experimental keyboard solo. 5/5 04. Map of the Problematique: again one of Muse's greatest songs. The melody is just so beautiful. Again, the combination of the lovely lyrics (I can't get it right/Since I met you) and Bellamy's enormous capabilities this song is one of the pinnacles of Black Holes & Revelations - 4.5/5 05. Soldier's Poem: here Muse show they are capable of more than rocking out hard and making beautiful songs; a 3/4 jazz-song with again Queen-esque vocal harmonies. An emerging change in Muse's style and one of the long-awaited (at least by me, I loved unintended) acoustic pieces. Also the contradiction of the beautiful melodies to the spooky lyrics "And do you think you deserve your freedom/No, I don't think you do/There's no justice in the world/And there never was." is utterly breathtaking 4/5 06. Invincible: Invincible is slightly too sugary for me. Though the solo is amazing, the military drums and the "fight for your dreams and you will prevail"-lyrics lack depth. Too bad, but it's likely a filler. 2/5 07. Assassin: The System of a Down-ish riff and dynamics and conspiracy lyrics set the mood for this absolutely mad song. After Soldier's Poem and Invincible, we needed something more upbeat and dynamic. And I cannot say they've failed. This song is comparable to Showbiz songs but it also contains some of the harmonies that are the signature of this album. 3.5/5 08. Exo-Politics: the catchy drum and guitar intro suddenly changes into a more spacy mood when the vocals and keyboard kick in. Definetely another example of Back Holes' greatness. 4/5 09. City of Delusion: with the flamenco intro this song appears to be another alternative rock-piece, including the trumpet solo. Though the chorus is a bit too boring, this is still a solid song. 3/5 10. Hoodoo: again a very exciting intro. Hoodoo is probably the least poppy song of the album, together with Assassin and Take A Bow. Though it may be slightly too far-fetched for the average listener, it is a satisfaction for the old-school Muse-fan. 3.5/5 11. Knights of Cydonia: the progressive piece which is many a Muser's favorite. And I can't argue against that. KoC is an astonishing song in terms of structure, riffs, vocals and power. Dominic Howard's horse-like drums comparable to Child in Time and the great intro riff and vocals already make this song worth your while. But then there's the bridge, with utterly breathtaking vocals, both beautiful and exciting, a perfect build-up for the coming guitar riff and complete lose-your-mind outro. Especially live, this is epic. The lines "No one's gonna take me alive/Time will come to make things right/You and I must fight for our rights/You and I must fight to survive" would even get a 90-year old to jump up from their chair and dive into the mosh-pit like 200-pound wrestler. Bottom line is, this song is so darn awesome! 5/5
Overall Impression — 9
If the album was stolen, I'd most definitely buy another one. It's one of my favorite albums of all time. I understand that the superconservative hardcore Muse fans might not appreciate the musical genius that went into the creation of this album, but not only did Muse reach a far wider audience with the making of Black Holes but they also showed their capability and diversity. A terrific effort and a must-have to any Muse and non-muse fan. Get your ass to the music store and buy it, you will not be disappointed!