Black Holes And Revelations

Muse

Warner Brothers, 2006

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/19/2006

No one does epics quite like they used to. I mean, it’s been 30 years and few bands have even come close to matching tracks like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Stairway To Heaven” and even “November Rain?” But you have to give a band props for trying their hand at creating their own definitive, sprawling masterpieces, however overblown some may end up, and on their fourth album, English rockers Muse come pretty damn close with their final track, “Knights Of Cydonia.”

But since most normal people don’t listen to an album from back to front (not even me and I’m the type of person who, without fail, flips to the end of every single mystery novel), let’s start back at side one. Black Holes And Revelations sets the tone for the rest of its material with its slow-burning opener, “Take A Bow,” a scathing ode to the government laid out in simple proclamations like “Pay / You must pay for your crimes against the Earth.” Though the instrumentation is the typical densely layered pile of noise and distorted vocals we know and love from Muse, the blunt lyrics leave a bit to be desired, especially considering the fact that most bands at the moment have put the same complaints to music. nbtc__dv_250

Next up are the album’s third and second singles, “Starlight” and “Supermassive Black Hole,” respectively. “Starlight” starts out strong with its pounding beat and swirling guitars but, though it’s enjoyable, isn’t up to the caliber of its previous material with its slightly generic power-pop sentiment. “Supermassive Black Hole,” on the other hand, is where the album picks up steam again. With glam-style vocals, crunching guitar and a slick, swaggering groove, it’s nothing you’d expect from the apocalyptic tendencies of their previous albums and that’s exactly what makes it so interesting.

But it’s two songs that sum up the entire Black Holes and Revelations, the first of which is “Map Of The Problematique”; though Muse were already known as a formidable live act, they continue to indulge their stadium-ready sound, blowing it up to even more towering proportions in the soaring choruses and choral, almost Depeche Mode-electro straight out of “Enjoy The Silence.” It stops just short of overblown, retaining a measured poise to balance out the theatrics.

Of course, you can’t mention theatrics without returning to “Knights Of Cydonia.” Mixing whinnying horses and laser guns (and that’s just in the first 30 seconds) with their own distinctive blend of prog-rock, “Knights” brings something to the table that most artists wouldn’t even think of doing anymore. It builds to a fiery, earth-quaking climax that explodes into massive, multi-tracked harmonies, surely a nod to “Bohemian Rhapsody” as it then leads a thundering guitar break. With a defiant statement like “You and I must fight for our rights / you and I must fight to survive” as its chorus, this is sure to be Muse’s definitive moment.

Black Holes And Revelations does have its stumbling points, but it more than makes up for its weak moments with the overarching strength of the rest of its material. This is an album that demands to be listened to, and you’d be hard-pressed not to give in.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2006 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.