Muse – Black Holes and Revelations

This is a slightly late review. I downloaded this album back in July, but didn’t get round to more than a quick listen while I was doing other things[1]. But the recent release of Starlight as a single reminded me that I really needed to give it a proper listen. So I did. I also added their first three albums to my Zen Micro, giving myself a major dose of Muse on the way to and from work all week.

Muse are a three-piece band from Devon, noted for starting out at well over the top, then turning it up a few notches. They also tend to have a science fiction background to a lot of their songs. Bombastic? Perhaps. Fun? Most definitely. Frontman Matthew Bellamy has a voice that at times is as gentle and caressing as any ballad singer, but when he gets to the more dramatic numbers he turns up the power, pulls out all the stops and, in short, rocks. And for three guys, they make a lot of noise. But it’s a damn fine noise. Their last album, Absolution was nicely over the top, and included the quite stunning single Sing for Absolution, which had a totally bonkers post-apocalyptic sf video. Good song, too. It was a bit of a hard act to follow. And here we are with their fourth album, Black Holes and Revelations. As the title suggests, they’re still floating around with the sf influences, and the concept of “restraint” is still only occasionally considered. These are, of course, Good Things. But enough of the introductory wibbling, and on with the songs. There are eleven tracks, so I’ll just cover a selection of them.

Take a Bow

The album opens with some twiddling, and Matt singing about an unnamed political leader. Accusations of corruption and evil pour out, leading to

You’ll burn in hell
Yeah you’ll burn in hell
For your sins

And then the guitars and drums kick in and it builds and builds, raining damnation down on the subject of the song[2] and ending in a moderately typical Muse climax.

Starlight

The current single, and a nicely accessible choice, too. The sort of thing that will attract the attention of casual listeners who might not otherwise pay attention to Muse. It’s a separation type love song, with a strong melody and tuneful keyboard playing. I’ve seen people compare it to Keane, but it’s not quite their sort of stuff, really. It’s also the source of the album title:

Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations
Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations

Hold you in my arms
I just wanted to hold
You in my arms

Far away
The ship is taking me far away
Far away from the memories
Of the people who care if I live or die

The video is worth a look – the band playing on the deck of a cargo ship accompanied by some serious pyrotechnics. Fun.

Supermassive Black Hole

This heads off in a direction that is almost, well, funky. Who’d have thought it?

Soldier’s Poem

A soft, gentle, lilting tune, nice layered vocals, and powerful lyrics:

It’s a shame we’re all dying
And do you think you deserve your freedom

No I don’t think you do
There’s no justice in the world
There’s no justice in the world
And there never was

Knights of Cydonia

I could go on (and often do), but I’ll close this review with the final track on the album. This is Muse turning all the knobs up to around 12, including the ones that only go up to 10. There’s a two minute intro which appears to have everything including the kitchen sink, and quite possibly the fridge as well. Thoroughly bonkers in the finest possible way, and apparently went down very well at the festivals this year. Definitely the kind of thing that would go nicely with a light show and probably some major pyrotechnics. The lyrics are almost incidental, given the pounding music and the feel of the voices, but they’re worth a listen:

Come ride with me
Through the veins of history
I’ll show you how god
Falls asleep on the job

And how can we win
When fools can be kings
Don’t waste your time
Or time will waste you

No one’s gonna take me alive
The time has come to make things right
You and I must fight for our rights
You and I must fight to survive

I particularly like “Don’t waste your time, or time will waste you”. I may have to, err, borrow it.

Oh, and the title? Cydonia is the region on Mars where some people thought they could see a face. I wasn’t aware of there being any knights there, but then, I’m not Matt Bellamy.

Conclusion

This is a completely bonkers, over-the-top, passionate, loud and above all, fun, album. Listening to it on headphones may earn you some strange looks as you find yourself singing along with the catchier songs. This is a Good Thing of course.

[1] Writing nonsense, most likely :rolleyes:
[2] I’ve got a few guesses :grin: