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Muse - Absolution (Album Review)

Matt Bellamy's classical background has always brought a touch of authenticity to the gothic roots of their anthemic rock, adding a little more class where too often we find a bland, 'trying-to-be-a-soundtrack-to-a-vampire-movie' type of music. I believe there's a little-known definition of this genre as 'wank-rock', wherein you have to imagine the singer wailing at the top of his voice, waving one hand in the air whilst simultaneously playing pocket billiards. It tends to fit about 3/5 of Muse's choruses quite well.

There can tend to be a distinct similarity amongst Bellamy's vocal lines, which can cloud over the fact that there is actually a nice variation within the underlying song writing. Although the

Music - Muse - Absolution (Album Review)

track listing tends to put them LOUD-quiet-LOUD-quiet, the distinction also breaks the album up enough to slightly disguise the heavy-handed and often slightly muddy production which basically groups together the middle five or six tracks into a bit of a mess of 'indistinguishability'. There are some good ideas layered behind the songs, from the piano in 'Apocalypse Please' to the arpegiated keyboard/guitar/whatever on 'Stockholm Syndrome', but this is an album that it littered with songs that could have done with a little more time to mature.

While we're at it, there aren't enough places where they've really gone for it and made the effort all round for all of the elements of an individual track - if there's a good chorus, the rest of the song sounds comparatively uninspiring ('Sing for Absolution', 'Thoughts of a Dying Atheist') - and other than the most likely single candidates Time is Running Out, The Small Print and Hysteria, it becomes tempting to cite the best moments of this album as the quieter ones: Blackout, and the start and end of Falling Away From You (which uses the same part in the middle, only it kind of screws it up…) - but then Blackout isn't really all that good, so whats left? Well, there are of course, in true Muse style, some excellent hard rock / melodic moments ('Stockholm Syndrome), as well as the occasionally dreamy, occasionally epic and occasionally pants tracks; but all in all, it seems a bit disappointing when the only really good tracks on an album are the ones you know they're going to release, doesn't it?

It probably isn't supposed to be a particularly comfortable album, but for the most part, Absolution just tends to sound like the sort of frustration only a fourteen-year-old can truly experience. Coupled with Bellamy's brace-like spitting vocals, this is a great soundtrack for the mid-teens. Who, I believe, are probably Muse's biggest fans…

Absolution has a strong start and a strong closing act, and there even moments in the middle that almost bring it up to ass-kicking level, but unfortunately there are just a couple too many weak spots. Besides, you just can't feel sorry for their emotional wailings, as they tend to follow by simply rolling out the Rock (note the capital R there) and slap you round the face for being such a girl. You do, however, have to feel extremely sorry for the guy that has to wipe the spit off of the microphones.

7.8