Absolution by Muse, arguably Muse’s best album yet

 

A capsule containing Muse’s most creative and experimental ventures, the album was a balance the band found after their first two albums “Showbiz” and “Origin of Symmetry”. The former were songs the band had come up with before they broke the global scene, while the latter, they made after watching Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters live, for whom they were opening in Muse’s first American tour. The group felt they didn’t have the same rock riffs and heavy elements that the bands they’d just watched had. The group ended up being very heavy on the second album as a result. This third album Absolution, is the first time Muse felt they had managed to integrate the two essential aspects of album making, namely the reclusive creative approach and the equipping of record with the potential to perform it live.

Muse also widened their approach thematically, where Matt (the vocalist) plays the agonized protagonist in dystopian songs like “Apocalypse Please”. The protagonist, a fanatic Christian in this case, is calling for the world to come to its literal end, with the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. He wants this, not only as he’s frustrated with the sinful world around him, and his yearning for a Christian quasi – utopian world instead, but also because the manifestation of such an event would mean the validation of his own beliefs and hence, it would give him a sense of reassurance. “Time Is Running Out” is another illustration of the dark leitmotif used throughout the record, where the character is approaching the end of his life, and the song is an account of his thoughts pertaining to his own end, like the feeling of not having sufficient time, emotions of vengeance, and regrets. And you have “Butterflies and Hurricanes” that was written in the memory of Dom (the drummer’s) father who passed away right after Muse were done playing at the Glastonbury festival. The song captures Dom’s fight to regroup and restore purpose in his life. The song’s name is inspired by the butterfly effect, which describes the delicate state of the earth’s climate, to where the flapping of a butterfly’s wings could unleash a series of chain reactions that could ultimately cause a massive hurricane in a different part of the world.

The band unlike the previous two albums, weren’t restricted creatively and also in terms of time, as they had signed to the new record label Warner Bros. This gave the group room to experiment extensively with orchestral arrangements, which would go on to be a defining character in all their future work.

Additionally, the artwork which has a man witnessing an apparent rapture is an allusion to the satirical tone the band sets on the credulity of wishful, religious people, a main target of their theme on the record.

Absolution, although as far as it is from pop music, went on to reach number 1 on the UK Albums chart, with Time Is Running Out peaking at number 8 on the Singles Charts. The album would later go on to be voted, the 2nd best album of the 21st century by Kerrang!. And as intended by the band, the album produced some of their best live songs, which earned them awards for best British Live Act twice.

 

By Vishnu Ravindran Nair

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