Album review: Black Holes & Revelations

One student revisits classic Muse album

My favorite album of all time, Muse’s Black Holes & Revelations, turns 10 years old this July.

What better way to celebrate that birthday than doing a “retro” review on it?

Why is this my favorite album of all time? Black Holes & Revelations, or Black Holes for short, is the equivalent of a space odyssey. From start to finish, Muse takes you for a wild ride filled with a wide variety of music. It’s an album that has aged quite well for this very reason. I don’t know why, but Black Holes seems to speak to me on several levels. It rocks out in some parts and is very relaxed in others and I think that fits my personality. The album art depicts the four horsemen from the Book of Revelations and the album does have an apocalyptic tone with questions of humanity, power struggles and outer space.

“Take A Bow”
This is the perfect album opener. The buildup of this track really gets you ready for what the album will become. We start with a keyboard, which is then joined by vocals, drums, bass, and a heavy guitar. Lyrically, this is a powerful one. It questions world leaders and holds them responsible for their actions. “Take A Bow” ends in an explosion of music.

“Starlight”
This is one of the album’s commercial successes. It’s carried by a steady bass line, simple piano, and emphatic drumbeat.

“Supermassive Black Hole”
Have you ever met someone whose personality seemed to match that of a black hole? This is the song about them. “Supermassive Black Hole” is the album’s other commercial hit. This track is a very groovy one that was heavily inspired by Minnesota’s own Prince. The funky guitar tone and falsetto throughout the entire track almost seem to pay homage to the tiny man.

“Map of the Problematique”
This is the best instrumental on Black Holes. All of the instruments in this track’s intro seem to mesh so well together. The instrumental breakdown following the first chorus is quick but definitely rocks out. This track contains one of my favorite lyrics from the album: “why can’t we see that we when we bleed, we bleed the same?”

“Soldier’s Poem”
This is a nice acoustic break in the album. The shortest track on Black Holes, “Soldier’s Poem” is what the title suggests. It’s written from the perspective of a soldier who has seen the ugly side of war and questions their freedom. In some parts, this track sounds like a lullaby and it’s very relaxing.

“Invincible”
The opening of “Invincible” is somber and beautiful. Imagine yourself being in an oxygen bubble in the middle of a horde of whales communicating with each other. This track takes a similar approach to “Take A Bow” in that it adds instruments as it progresses. I’d say we see the album’s first real solo here.

“Assassin”
A banger for sure. I love the layered vocals in this one. It sounds like a barbershop quartet in some parts. “Assassin” definitely has the best drum track on the album.

“Exo-Politics”
“Exo-Politics” has always been my least favorite track on this album and I don’t know why. It’s the only track on the album that’s carried by a guitar and I think it’s one of the most interesting tracks lyrically. There’s a conspiracy theory that states that world leaders are actually aliens in disguise. “Exo-Politics” is about what transpires when these aliens’ brethren come to Earth. I like that the sounds in this track create that atmosphere.

“City of Delusion”
“City of Delusion” makes you feel like you’re watching an old spaghetti western film. It’s very theatrical with strings and bombastic vocals. This is one of the most unique tracks on the album because it has a trumpet solo. “Why a trumpet solo?” you might ask. Why not? Also, you can’t help but sing along to the lyric, “I will avenge,” at the end of each chorus.

“Hoodoo”
Imagine if Russian classical composers Sergei Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky made a music baby. This is “Hoodoo.” It starts off at a whisper and soon erupts into a piano ballad. If Black Holes had a masterpiece, this would be it.

“Knights of Cydonia”
You know a song is going to be good when it opens with the sounds of lasers and horses galloping and neighing. “Knights of Cydonia” is the official closer of Black Holes & Revelations and what a final act it is. So far, you’ve been taken on a wild ride, but this track takes you on a separate one. You feel like you’re in the middle of an intergalactic battle with war calls, fast strumming, and rhythmic fretting. The anthem and buildup towards the end of the track before the rock guitar riff is so good. The last minute and a half of this track makes it feel like a fireworks grand finale.

Photo: CC BY 2.0 by photosteve101

Gabe Hewitt

Gabe is a junior mass media student at MSU. He's usually up for anything. You can find him on Twitter (@gabehewitt) or you can email him at gabriel.hewitt@mnsu.edu.

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