Muse - Absolution
Reviewed by Andreas on 9th October 2003
Muse never stop to surprise, do they? Even the intro on their third effort, Absolution, is a bit of a... weird one. I suppose. A sound that might as well be soldiers marching, then turns into the beating of drums for the album's first song, "Apocalypse Please", a piano led epic with lyrics that, to a degree, define the whole album. "It's time for something biblical". Indeed.
This is the type of album that spawns hits. "Time Is Running Out" is already a minor one, denting the charts, and is followed by a video that really reminded me of "Dr. Strangelove", but that's just me. "Time Is Running Out" isn't very poetic in the lyrics dept. It's not very imaginative on an instrumental plane, but dear god, what a tune! The melody is divine, utterly divine. The following song to this, "Sing for absolution", might just be the best on the album. The mix of piano, synths and guitars, topped by Matt Bellamy's intense vocals makes this a near religious experience.
Digital "single", "Stockholm Syndrome" is also to find on here, not surprisingly. Whatever the significance of the title and the lyrics is anyone's guess, but it's very pretty.
On a whole, the album isn't really a follow-up to "Origin of Symmetry", but rather something altogether different. At times you'll think they've gone mainstream, only to have that belief shot down by just plain weird parts in songs. The album works on several levels, there are more piano, more guitar, more everything really. There's even an acoustic (well, almost) number on here. Still, they haven't totally put aside the quasi-prog thing. On "Hysteria" you have the classic Muse thing, a complicated bass riff which is backed up by the guitar. Not the other way around, like you find in so many other bands. The chorus is way nice too.
On the downside of things, the album drags on a bit at times, several of the songs are just those 10 seconds too long for comfort. It does grow on you though, and the mood you're in is important when listening to it. I've been forced to turn it off several times just because I haven't really got the patience at times. On other occasions however, listening to "Absolution" can be a rather emotional experience. All the way from the last chorus of "Hysteria", through to the orchestral (yes, orchestral) "Blackout", to the beautifully titled "Butterflies and hurricanes" it's all a near religious experience. The latter song sort of sums up the album as well, violins, piano, guitar, bass, drums, vocals, you name it. It's a very Muse song. Brilliant. The massiveness of it just overtakes you. It also makes it obvious that classical piano scores have their place in rock music.
Production wise, it's flawless, just like you'd expect. It's actually perfectly mixed, one of the best mixes I've heard on an album. If anything, I'd like to hear the spacey effects that sort of boil in the background a little better, but no big thing.
We need albums like this, especially in a society where Goths are described as "people who only wear the skin of freshly killed goats" by chart presenters. Buy it. If you're lucky you'll also get a free DVD with the album. Squiggly. The DVD is actually quite amusing, apparently some of the drums were recorded outside in the open air, and, strangely, in a swimming pool.
"Absolution" is an essential album, just like the two other Muse albums were. It's obvious that people who didn't like Muse before won't like them now either, but what do people know about good music? This is such an emotional and varied album, I don't see how anyone can actually dislike it, but them about that. I for one love it.
Muse are also touring Europe this autumn, go see them.
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