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  • Black Holes and Revelations album review
    • 4.5 stars
      • In short: Muse takes flight with shameless audacity.

This album will divide Muse fans-most will embrace the band's courageous direction; others will run for the hills.

One spin suggests this is all too difficult and overly busy- an in-your-face whirl of swirling keyboards and incessant synth effects, manic guitars, operatic formulas and Queen-like harmonies combined with tales of chasing starlight, enemies burning in Hell, melting glaciers, black holes and Zetas filling the skies.

But stick around a while. Four or five spins in and it becomes glaringly obvious this is something special; each song stylish, daring and beautifully crafted in its own right. Give the album time to breathe and it breathes you in.

Launching proceedings is the otherworldly, space age crescendo of Take A Bow with its political message to greedy leaders to "burn, burn in Hell", followed immediately by the sweeping, mid-tempo charm of Starlight, arguably the love song of the year. The grind and stomp of silly-yet-sensational Supermassive Black Hole is irresistible with Prince-like falsetto and sexy guitar, while Invincible demands attention with military beat and anthemic lyrics.

And there's more havoc and magic where that came from - trancey Depeche Mode-ness (Map of the Problematique); gentle, eerie melancholy (Soldier's Poem); crazy, epic genius (Knights of Cydonia); rock swagger (City of Delusion) and Jeff-Buckley-esque croon and wail (Hoodoo).

Black Holes and Revelations has artfully blended Matt Bellamy's guitar riffs and yearning vocals with dance beats and new age balladry. Take each song on its merit (not the album as a whole, or risk getting lost in the madness) and give it a chance to grow on you.

Black Holes and Revelations should not be played regularly, but rather revisited sparingly when the mood is right. It's pure genius, though a little crazy, but that's what makes it extra special.

With this seductive beast, Muse heralds its arrival as musical genius.