Album Reviews 3- Muse- Black Holes and Revelations

Track By Track

Black Holes and Revelations (2006) has to be one of my favourite albums of all time, certainly my favourite Muse album but it’s hard to forget the positive impact this album had on me as a 14-going on-15-year-old.

I was aware of some of these songs before I listened to the album but I just never thought it was Muse. The music on this album is some of the best that I’ve heard in my life, in my opinion Muse should be up there with the likes of Rush, The Who and Yes in terms of not just band musical ability but individually as well.

The first track, “Take A Bow”, is intense from the get go. The lyrics are suggesting a corrupt government and you can feel the tenseness in Matt Bellamy’s voice as he delivers the angry words. The climax of the song is haunting as well, that last chord, holy s**t. In this track drummer Dom Howard plays a hybrid synth system known as a “Buchla 200e”. Unusual instrument but it adds to the tension in the buildup, very Pink Floyd that.

We then have “Starlight”, which is a mood whiplash from “Take A Bow”. I had absolutely no idea Starlight was Muse until I heard it on the album, having previously heard it on the Euro 2008 qualifier adverts. The piano riff makes the hairs on my arms stand up every time I hear it and it blends well with Chris Wolstenholme’s distorted bass in the background. One track I’ll never get tired of hearing as long as I live.

“Supermassive Black Hole” is another standout track. Not your average Muse song, Matt Bellamy sings almost the whole song in falsetto range. Love the contrast between the “innocent” vocals and the distorted backing, even the drums and percussion have distortion. I wonder if the song has a vocoder on the last bit of the chorus, I think it sounds really cool. Howard would then use the SBH beat in “Undisclosed Desires” on the following album, Resistance.

“Map of The Problematique”, weird title but nevertheless I brilliant song. The riff at the beginning already grabs you and I always thought the piano in the background made it sound like the theme tune to NCIS, pretty weird that. I also like the drum breakdown after the chorus, it’s got some brilliant rhythm. One that isn’t talked about as much as “Starlight” or “Supermassive Black Hole”, so a very underrated track.

We then come to “Solider’s Poem”, a song with a much softer vibe. Now the problem I have with this track as that the guitar arpeggio sounds very similar to R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”. A rare acoustic track by Muse, it is only 2 minutes long so I kinda think it’s only in there to fill space.

“Invincible” is another song that isn’t talked about as much. I love it’s buildup, I love the guitar solo, it has a positive vibe to it. Very few songs I listen too have a “sunshine and rainbows” feel but every now and then, you sometimes need it, and “Invincible” is as close as it comes.

Then we come to “Assassin”. Holy mother of god! The guitar, the drums, the vocals, the everything! This track proves that Muse are on a different level. How Dom Howard manages to pull some of those fills off are beyond me. He must have some stamina! It’s almost metal in the way the rhythm guitar is played. Incredible. Just incredible. I know I didn’t mention bass but I can’t really hear the bass guitar in this song.

“Exo-Politics” is a brilliant follow up, I think the synth bass that joins in during the guitar solo. after the first chorus is pretty sexy. While it wasn’t released as a single, it is a song that gets talked about by a lot of Muse fans, mainly because of how underrated it is as a song. Certainly one of my favourites off the album.

We then have “City of Delusion”. Another intense song with a huge buildup. The song features strings and brass arrangements which I feel give it a Spanish/Latin feel, as well as the acoustic intro. Musicianship is also way up in this track as well, I love some of the effects on Chris’ bass as well. A very underrated bassist in my opinion along with Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and Soundgarden’s Ben Shepherd.

This Spanish feel is continued in “Hoodoo” as well, with the guitar in the intro, Matt Bellamy is a guitar god. Just saying. I think this song gave Muse inspiration for Exogenesis on Resistance. Almost like a rock opera although it’s not a concept album and it’s just this one track.

Then we have “Knights of Cydonia” and like “Assassin”, holy god. This track and “Assassin” prove that Muse are on another level of musicianship with this song from guitar riffs and effects to vocal harmonies, the lot, it’s almost prog-rock in a way, without the change of time signatures. If Muse had a “Crowning Moment of Awesome”, it would be this track. Holy s**t! I know a lot of Muse fans have a reputation for overrating the band but here they have full justification. It’s almost like you’re riding a horse through a desert in the opening section and the end part you just rock out! I can’t believe it took me almost 6 years to come across this masterpiece. Bellamy, Wolstenholme and Howard, “Take A Bow!”. Sorry, I had to.

We then lastly have this bonus track “Glorious” which never featured on my copy of the album so I can’t really talk about it, I’ve only listened to it once. What I can say as that the intro kinda sounds like 70’s Yes. I feel that the fresher the song is in your memory, the more special it is. It’s a shame I don’t have it on my copy of “Black Holes and Revelations”. Musically I think the song is quite intense. The fact it’s the closer and not “Knights of Cydonia” is kinda anti-climactic. Personally I thought they should’ve put it in between “Soldier’s Poem” and “Invincible, but it’s where it is on the album is my only nitpick.

To conclude, what an album!!! I can safely say that this album changed my life. Muse are incredible, they have some truly amazing music and songs on this album. One I strongly recommend you listen to if you haven’t, if you’re a fan of rock music that is. I always thought the album cover looked cool as well. Four bald dudes sitting at a table at the top of the Grand Canyon. Incredible. Just incredible.

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