Black Holes & Revelations is the fourth album by Teignmouth super trio Muse. After propelling to success with both Origin of Symmetry and Absolution, the pressure was definitely on in 2006. No one can even begin to imagine what must have been running through the bands’ heads. There was massive speculation that Muse wouldn’t be able to pull off another spectacular album that would be able to top the likes of Origin, where the concepts revolved around downloading other people’s personalities into your own brain.
Black Holes & Revelations begins with Take A Bow which is an attack on the government by Bellamy. Bellamy’s lyrics are intelligent because he realises that the government are nothing more than corrupt people who like to play a cynical game with the public “Corrupt you corrupt/Bring corruption to all that you touch/Burn, you will burn/You will burn in hell.” The song starts with arpeggios that are created through a synthesiser. The wonderful part about Take A Bow is that it keeps building before it evolves into a huge and explosive sound from the trio. Bellamy once again shows his incredible vocal range. Supermassive Black Hole is the track that defines why Muse are continuing to be one of the best bands in the music industry. By embellishing dance and electronica into Black Holes & Revelations, they made it a refreshing experience for the listener because the band had never pushed into the genre before. By introducing new genres, they captured the imagination even more.
Map of the Problematique is inspired by electronic Gods Depeche Mode as Bellamy has cited them as an inspiration for the song. The track heavily uses synthesisers, distortion, flanging and octave shifting. If you listen carefully there is a similar chord progression to Enjoy The Silence by Depeche Mode. Soldier’s Poem is written from the perspective of a soldier who cannot find a reason why he is repeatedly risking his life “And do you think you deserve your freedom/No I don’t think you do/There’s no justice in the world.“ Soldier’s Poem is a nice feature to the album as it is an acoustic number which brings Black Holes down to a nice pace. The track has lovely aspects of jazz to it as well because the song was recorded with a double bass, jazz guitars and old drums. Originally the song was going to be used for 2004 album Absolution, but it was dropped, which turned out quite well for Muse, as they could experiment even more with the track.
Hoodoo leans towards classical influences with the Spanish electric guitar and the Romantic piano section. Hoodoo just like Soldier’s Poem is a quiet number, but when the drums come in, it becomes theatrical which gives the listener some drama. Knights of Cydonia is Bellamy’s tribute to his dad, George Bellamy who was in a group called The Tornadoes. Knights is also a tribute to The Tornadoes number one hit Telstar. With the galloping of horses and cowboys firing their laserguns, the listener knows they’re going to be embarking on one of Muse’s epic space journeys! As the song progresses with it’s galloping tempo, all comes to an immediate halt when Bellamy sings “No ones going to take me alive/The time has come to make things right/You and I must fight for our right/You and I must fight to survive” After this bridge, the song is taken to another place. The dynamics of drums, bass and guitar in the ending riff are fantastic because the sound is so tight that it has the potential to topple buildings over.
So does Black Holes & Revelations top Absolution or Origin of Symmetry? The short answer is no because everyone should have known that Muse were never going to top their groundbreaking Origin of Symmetry or life-changing Absolution albums. But one point that does need to be made about Black Holes & Revelations is how bloody ambitious it is! By using more musical techniques i.e. effects and incorporating new genres like dance and jazz, it just goes to show that Muse are never short of ideas. If there was ever an album that could define what space-rock is then Black Holes & Revelations is that album.