Warner Brothers, 2003


REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Forget the countless Radiohead comparisons that always seem to get tagged onto British alt-rockers Muse (made up of Matthew Bellamy on vocals, guitars and keyboards, bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard). Sure, there’s bit of The Bends and OK Computer in their third album, but also incorporated into the mix are Queen, ELO, Nirvana, Black Sabbath and even some baroque and Chopin for good measure.


That mishmash of influences makes for an interesting end result, to say the least, and Absolution continues to build upon the expansive sounds of earlier releases (Showbiz in 1999 and Origin of Symmetry in 2001). This time around, Muse return to some of the themes they explored on Origin Of Symmetry, namely theology, conspiracies and the supernatural; the album opens with the band bracing for the world’s end in “Apocalypse Please,” with a driving piano and swirling bridge and Bellamy’s pleading lines, “And it’s time we saw a miracle / Come on, it’s time for something Biblical.”


After the slick bass line and catchy chorus of “Time Is Running Out” comes one of Absolution’s standout tracks, “Sing For Absolution.” Its intro and verses are relatively subdued but soon give way to an uplifting chorus, easily one of the best, most seamless performances on the album.


For a glimpse of Muse taking on rock-operatics, just turn to the frenzied “Stockholm Syndrome;” with dreamy keyboards, layered guitars and wailing refrain, it’s become one of the band’s definitive tracks. Continuing along in the same heavy, crunching vein is “Hysteria,” which expands upon its static base with searing drums and an urgent chorus; looking back, it’s easy to see why it instantly drew me in even when I had absolutely no clue who Muse were in the first place.


And, of course, any band knows there’s power in contrast; so, what’s more suitable to come after “Hysteria” than the morose “Blackout?” Gorgeous string arrangements and gentle drums coupled with atmospheric harmonies create a fantastic interlude before jumping straight back into heavier material again.


Also worthy of a mention is the synth-driven ballad “Endlessly,” which strangely enough also has artificial-sounding, operatic vocals swerving in and out to back Bellamy’s yearning lyrics. And, even though it’s not your typical Muse fare, it does hold its own and has steadily gathered appreciation from the band’s fan base.


The most encompassing of the album’s underlying religious tones is “Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist” (subtle title, I know). It’s one of the shortest tracks on the album, but its reflective lyrics, most notably the refrain “It scares the hell out of me / And the end is all I can see” and distorted guitar break make it another highlight.


Just listening to Absolution again after awhile makes me realize just how fantastic it is; from start to finish, it’s one of those albums you can keep coming back to and just discover more facets and nuances. If Muse continue along these lines, there’s no need for them to worry about the world ending, because they just might conquer it first.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 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.