Muse - Absolution
A&E Records
Epic Hard Rock, Neoprog
14 songs (52:19)
Release year: 2003
Muse
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Muse time again, and this week it’s 2003’s Absolution that we’re looking at. The album that broke Muse in America and made them international superstars of the Rock world, it’s as good as the hype. Yes, it’s undoubtedly commercial, and yes, Matt Bellamy was as bonkers lyrically as ever, but if you can listen to the piano-driven build to apocalyptic grandeur that is first track proper Apocalypse Please without being completely emotionally caught up then you’re a cold-hearted being indeed. Where the band may have been a little hesitant to spread their word on previous albums, all restraints are gone here, the band literally begging for the end of the world. Each and every track has a certain desperate epic vibe, from the more obvious Time Is Running Out to the rather beautiful ballad that is Sing For Absolution, giving the album an interesting conceptual feel.

Of course, a certain suspension of disbelief is required, and critics of the band generally roll their eyes at the hysterical over-the-topness more than anything. Still, anyone that digs Power Metal’s shots for glory should more than appreciate this, not to mention the excellent songwriting which gives us highlights like Stockholm Syndrome, a riff-driven exploration of dynamics which mixes guitar and piano melodies perfectly, and Falling Away With You, a minimalist love song. It’s worth mentioning that although initially simplistic, it’s interesting how complex the songs are when you really listen. The most obvious example of this is, of course, Butterflies & Hurricanes with its perfectly-placed classical piano interlude, but the likes of megahit Hysteria with the pulsing, alive bassline and the guitar and vocal histrionics are extremely well-constructed, too. Muse are excellent at building tensions and bringing them crashing down, and it’s a rare song here which doesn’t take you on an emotional rollercoaster.

Picking highlights is easy, as more or less every song is killer, but the orchestra-backed Blackout rarely gets mentioned, a haunting ballad that could be straight from the 50s. The songs towards the end of the album, like the rocking Small Print and the synth-driven Endlessly, are just as good as the earlier hits, and Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist and Ruled By Secrecy bring the album to a close perfectly. It might not be as complex or proggy as Black Holes And Revelations or as rocking as Muse’s earlier albums, but Absolution is the perfect point between the two eras, a mixture of Rock styles that blend together perfectly and produces an album full of great songs. It was certainly one of the best releases of 2003, even taking into account the above ground Metal world, and it holds up today as a great album.

Killing Songs :
Time Is Running Out, Stockholm Syndrome, Butterflies & Hurricanes, Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist
Goat quoted 88 / 100
Adam quoted 80 / 100
Elias quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Muse that we have reviewed:
Muse - The Resistance reviewed by Goat and quoted 71 / 100
Muse - Black Holes & Revelations reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
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