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Muse: Black Holes and Revelations

Muse: Black Holes and Revelations

Label:Warner Bros.
Release Date:2006

By Ian Grey | Posted 9/6/2006

Muse doesn't care about drinking from the well of wag-approved influences or those now utterly inaccurate comparisons to Radiohead with which the band is saddled. Lead singer/guitarist/pianist Matt Bellamy continues to live his wacky dream of being the guitar-based Rachmaninoff of metallic prog-pop. But his band now represents something fascinating and even new in pop-metal excess--super-rocking, testosterone-free hetero kitsch that really isn't--and blithely embraces its Queeny aesthetic for the higher calling of the overwrought climaxes and hooks of the gods.

There's just no denying the sheer cheek, scope, and passion injected into Black Holes and Revelations' 12 operas pruned into four-minute masterpieces of unabashed histrionics. Precisely supported by drummer Dominic Howard's nerdy/bombastic groove and bassist Chris Wolstenholme's fuzzy Rickenbacker-isms, Black Holes is the child of Dimmu Borgir's symphonic sledgehammer and the multichord overkill of U.K.-era Sparks. "Invincible" is a love/protest song as rapturous imaginary national anthem, with a shredding hammer-and-tap solo that Steve Vai types will spend months trying to transcribe. You either love it or you're like, "You've got to be kidding."

Lyrics, usually a Muse low-light, are now smartly honed to essentials: an idea, a mood, a neo-con slam (the techno-waltz "Take a Bow"). "Supermasssive Black Hole"--a typically deranged title combining anxious physics with a Freudian slip--is NIN fronted by Prince. There's been talk that "Nights of Cydonia" is Muse's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Actually, it's "Keep Yourself Alive" writ humongous with Dick Dale surf flourishes, a boogie-beat inversion of "Telstar," Ennio Morricone western-isms, and the great lost early Black Sabbath riff--all smooshed into 6:07 minutes of jaw-drop. Muse has always existed in an exclusively perverse universe. But as "Cydonia's" simple, catchy summation makes clear --"You and I must fight for our rights/ You and I must fight to survive"--now everybody's invited to join.

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