Muse Faces the End Free of Sin
The album is called Absolution. The first track is a military march. The song titles beg for the apocalypse and various other chaotic states. The first lyrics heard are a strict command: Declare this an emergency! Later: I want it now! Give me your heart and your soul!Subtlety is not Muse’s forte.
Absolution is the band’s fourth major-label album, though it’s the first most American fans will hear of the band–and a debut like this is not soon forgotten. The sheer grandeur with which this band goes about their lyrical concepts is fully supported by a lush, unrelenting soundscape of hard guitar riffs and piano-peppered orchestrations.
Typical song structure doesn’t apply here, nor do any standard song expectations. “Stockholm Syndrome” is repeatedly broken by a few measures of grinding metal, followed immediately by a frolicking piano-guided melodic chorus sung in falsetto. “Butterflies and Hurricanes” is a moving, energizing upbeat song tribute to victory — at least until the 45 seconds of virtuoso Gershwin piano. And it’s entirely natural.
Despite the numerous varied moments contained within a single song, the overall album maintains a high-octane feel. Attempts are made with calmer moments that approach a more traditional ballad, but they are continually swept up in fury. This is, of course, until Muse settles on the listener a stunning, heartbreakingly beautiful ballad. Entitled “Blackout,” the song mourns the end of a sweet love backed by sighing strings, vocal chorus, and mandolin. No other moment on the album is nearly as surprising as this one, where the band proves it can rein in its musical schizophrenia for a full four and a half minutes.