Album Review: Muse – Absolution
After the success of Muse’s Origin of Symmetry in 2001, the band had finally established the direction they were going to be heading for. This leads to the question, how in God’s name were they going to be able to top a bonkers and ingenious album like Origin of Symmetry? With fans already exploring the minds of Muse, everyone expected that the band wouldn’t be able to top concepts such as tracing the origin of the mathematical perfection of the universe, which would lead you to find God. Oh how wrong everyone was. In fact Absolution couldn’t have been anything but ambitious.
Absolution starts with Intro/Apocalypse Please. In Intro you are able to hear soldiers marching which already indicates that Muse have changed the direction of their song-writing, as the next song is Apocalypse Please which has a political aspect to it. Apocalypse Please was inspired by the beginnings of the Iraq War as the lyrics suggest “Declare this an emergency/Come on and spread a sense of urgency/And pull us through/And this is the end/The end/This is the end of the world.” With Muse pushing the topic of the Iraq War, it gives Absolution a mysterious aspect because after Origin of Symmetry, fans would have expected the band to follow up with similar themes on Origin. By presenting different concepts, it shows a lovely contrast in themes. Time Is Running Out is a phenemonon among fans and it’s understandable why. The structure and intensity of this song defines what an apocalypse would feel like! Sing For Absolution provides lovely soundscapes. The song makes the listener feel sympathetic for Bellamy because the soundscapes place him on a different planet while he sings about missing someone.
Within the first seconds of Stockholm Syndrome, the listener already knows that the character of this track is crazy, wild and bombastically bonkers. The riff is menacing and vicious. The composition behind Stockholm Syndrome is effortless because the way Muse accompany a heavy guitar riff with classical piano is genius. Stockholm Syndrome is one of the tracks that show Muse are just ambitious as they were on their predecessor. Hysteria consists of a fat bass line where no-one can put their headphones down because the groove is so seductive that it lures you straight in. Blackout is based on the perspective of someone facing the end and reflecting back on the good points of their life. The track brings Absolution down to a lovely pace. Blackout is one the best songs Muse have ever produced because you can hear Bellamy’s classical influences such as Rachmaninoff and Chopin. The strings in Blackout are exquisite and utterly gorgeous.
Butterflies & Hurricanes is an epic and theatrical number. The way Muse build up the song with Wostlenholme’s bass line accompanied by strings just shows how effortless the composition is. Butterflies takes the listener by surprise in the way it evolves into a ginormous sound. Bellamy also provides a beautiful piano solo. The piano solo consists of sweeping arpeggios and dramatic chords which is a staple of Rachmaninoff’s music. Endlessly like Blackout is a slow number in Absolution. The track is one of the more electronic numbers on the album where Bellamy provides a lovely chord progression. Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist highlights Bellamy’s guitar playing abilities where he single handedly plays arpeggios without any trouble. As the title suggests, it is about somebody who is dealing with their atheism.
Absolution was the album that eradicated everyone’s expectations because when Origin of Symmetry was released in 2001, it was ridiculously exciting. The impact that Origin made in 2001 along with other albums such as Is This It? by The Strokes provided a benchmark for the future of music. Absolution may have not been as experimental as Origin but one thing is for certain, it was equally as ambitious because Muse were still providing mad-capped concepts and groundbreaking music. Absolution definitely highlights Muse as innovative composers for their generation.