Albums That Shaped Me: Muse, Absolution

This album was the vehicle for Muse to achieve mainstream acceptance. Many of the innovations they pioneered have since become cliché but at the time they helped revitalize my interest in heavy music.

Absolution is the most substantial achievement of their early career. The dark mood that pervades the album keeps the collection of songs thematically unified without the artificiality that plagues so many concept albums.

The guitar and bass tones of this album are monstrous and were one the catalysts for me to start exploring unorthodox sounds on the bass. For example, in Stockholm Syndrome during the guitar solo the guitar is doubled with a digital recreation of the guitar line.

Throughout Absolutions Matt Belamy adopts a variety of persona which live in the lyrics. The most obvious case being Apocalypse Please where he adopts the role of a religious fanatic. More subtly, in Thoughts of a Dying Atheist he appears to be himself but dancing closer to death. These different persona give the album an emotional depth and sophistication which can be missing from purely biographical songs. All of this being very  reminiscent of David Bowie and his every morphing identity.

Another influence from Absolution that has stayed with me is the strong relationship between the bass and drums. There is a weird funkiness that Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme achieved together that left a strong impression on me. Especially, on Time is Running Out. Later in their career this quality could no longer be heard in the music as they fell under the malign influence of Queen.

Muse have now largely become a victims of their own success. In this they follow an arc that many bands have followed: early success, mainstream acceptance and finally stagnation.

I will always look back on Absolution with fond memories. It is a unique achievement that will never be replicated.