Release Year: 2006
Muse may have started off as your standard rock band, but they have constantly evolved into something larger than life over the years. While they started making notable changes on their previous album, this one led the way to their epic, dramatic sound. It also seems to be the high point in Matt Bellamy’s political awareness as the songs move away from topics of love to topics of society coming to an end. What you get is an epic record that stretches each of the member’s talents even further.
The opening track “Take A Bow” is a bit hypnotic with the looping, electronic music the greets the listener. The music keeps going until Bellamy’s sweet voice comes on and swoons “You’ll burn in hell/for your sins.” It’s amazing how beautiful he can sound when saying something so cynical; it’s almost as if he’s mocking them. The political theme is found right away as Bellamy sings about corrupt leaders and how they’ll get their justice eventually. As the music goes on things keep building up until the guitars come slaying in, sounding so damning you think the world was ending right outside your window. It’s a very apocalyptic song that has a bleak undertone, yet still sounds awesome.
The brightest point of the album comes in the form of “Starlight.” It sort of catches you off guard because you don’t expect to hear this light, happy sounding music after the previous track. This one is sweet and upbeat, making you feel good all over as soon as the piano riff hits your ears. Also, Matt’s vocals are so strong and amazing. When he sings “I just wanted to hold you in my arms” it’s enough to give you chills. Unlike most of the songs here, this one is about missing people you love, which makes it kind of touching. Even though it’s massively overplayed thanks to trailers for rom-com movies, it’s still a great song. Another unexpected track is “Supermassive Black Hole.” Not only is it their sexiest song yet with the sleek, sexed up riff, but it finds the band diving into the funk and R&B genre in terms of music. Though it’s not really an explicit song, Matt’s falsetto and the way he coos “oooooh” gives it that naughty touch.
Probably the most epic song here is “Map of the Problematique.” The entire mood is intense and dramatic. The band plays around more with classical influences here with the prominent piano, yet keep in synth elements for this larger than life sound and feel. It’s really hard to describe in words, but it’s fucking amazing. It’s one of those that makes you realize what a talented and dedicated band Muse are. Though there are tons of great songs here, like the rushing “Assassin,” the surf rock influenced “Hoodoo,” and the Latin inspired “City of Delusion,” the one track that doesn’t live up to the others is “Invincible.” Others may disagree with me, but the entire thing comes off so cheesy. The overall message is very cliché and sounds too sappy. The sentiment of coming together to make a difference is there, but it doesn’t come off very strong. Also, the marching band sound that introduces the song keeps going to the point that it becomes annoying.
The album ends with the epic and much loved track “Knights of Cydonia.” There are many songs Muse are known for, but this has to be the biggest one. Everything about this track is amazing: the Western tone, the surf rock inspired riffs, the air of mystery to the lyrics, and the weird space story behind it. Inspired by Matt’s dad who played in a band in the ’60s, there’s so much going on here sonically it’s difficult to keep up. No matter how many times you hear the song, there’s always something different you can latch onto. The best part comes during the bridge with the rapid, looping guitar riff and Matt declaring “No one’s gonna take me alive.” It’s such an empowering message it makes you want to take a stand. It keeps spiraling around as if to make you dizzy. It’s an amazing song and one of their most complex you won’t mind hearing again and again.
Overall, the album gets 8.5/10. The band pushes their sound and energy on this album. Everything from the music to the lyrics is turned up a notch and heading more towards their over the top sound. Muse explores a political landscape they don’t trust making for thought provoking songs. While not every song is a hit, there are plenty of epic tracks that would eventually become classics for the band. As fans know, Muse would continue pushing their music to different places.