Muse is one of those bands that’s huge overseas and yet relatively unknown Stateside until recently. Black Holes And Revelations appears to be changing that perception, making a solid U.S. debut at number nine on the Billboard top 200 after it was released on July 11.
The British trio isn’t afraid to wear its influences on its proverbial sleeve, skipping stylistically from the ELP-esque space rock of “Knights of Cydonia” to the Prince-ly funk of “Supermassive Black Hole” with seeming ease. Singer-guitarist Matthew Bellamy has no problem leading the band (bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard) from synth-driven uptempo numbers like “Map of the Problematique” to the delicate, multilayered vocals of “Soldier’s Poem.” Muse brings a harder-rocking sound to “Assassin” and “Exo-Politics,” veers off with Spanish guitar and horns on “City of Delusion” and the melodramatic “Hoodoo” and introduces classical themes on “Take a Bow.”
The band has been dogged with Radiohead comparisons throughout its career, and Bellamy works the Yorke-y vocals on the bombastic “Invincible” with mixed results, but it would be too easy to dismiss Muse as just another band trying to ape OK Computer. Queen might be a more apt comparison for Muse’s shapeshifting abilities, both from the variety of styles they take on, the multitracked vocals, and the kitchen-sink instrumentation exhibited throughout Black Holes And Revelations. Lyrically, the band takes an anti-war stance in several of the songs on this album, singling out unnamed heads of state (uh, who could they be?) for leading their nations into war. All told, on its sixth record Muse cooks up an interesting and unabashed prog-rockin’ stew. The band embarks on a U.S. tour Sept. 10. -- Jay Kumar
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[Buy Black Holes And Revelations from Insound here]