Despite being in the middle of an agonizing album gap, Musers everywhere have a lot to be celebrating lately. This week marks the 2nd anniversary of Muse’s most recent album, The 2nd Law, and hard as it is to believe, the 15th anniversary of their debut album, Showbiz. But most exciting of all, according to some cryptic hints from the band, the boys go into the studio today to start recording their 7th album.
To celebrate the band’s incredible albums (old, new, and forthcoming!), we are going to take a quick look back at Muse’s impressive discography, and look ahead to what may be next for the rock ‘n roll trio.
Peppered with heavy emotion, diverse musical influences, and teenage angst, Muse’s first album was met with mixed reviews upon its release 15 years ago, and even today many fans remain divided on their opinions of this 12-track debut. Still, its release was truly a landmark moment for the band, and (despite being perhaps Muse’s most ‘straightforward’ album stylistically), helped lay the groundwork for the experimental, progressive style they would come to be known for.
Origin of Symmetry, 2001
Two years after the release of Showbiz, Muse defied the dreaded “sophomore slump” by releasing Origin of Symmetry, an album so beloved by Musers that its 10-year anniversary was celebrated back in 2011 with two special performances at Reading and Leeds (something they have not done with any other album, before or since). Decidedly darker than its predecessor, Origin of Symmetry features heavy riffs, lots of falsetto, and many tracks that remain fan-favorites to this day (and is this GATRS’ personal favorite Muse album).
Absolution followed in the footsteps of OoS, carrying on the darker and heavier tone of its predecessor. This time, however, fans also got a small taste of some of the unique musical influences (specifically symphonic and electronic) that would come more to the forefront in later albums. Packed with amazing riffs, dark lyrics, and one of the most iconic basslines in contemporary rock (Hysteria), many regard Absolution as Muse’s best and most coherent album. Absolution was Muse’s first album to reach #1 in the U.K.
Black Holes and Revelations, 2006
In many ways, Black Holes and Revelations marked a turning point for Muse. It was during this era that the band’s popularity truly began to skyrocket (particularly in the U.S.) and the album itself delves into musical styles and lyrical themes that are quite different from the band’s first three albums. Big and bombastic, the album features even more symphonic and electronic influences (as seen in tracks like Knights of Cydonia and Take a Bow) and lyrics focused on themes like government oppression, conspiracy theories, and even outer space.
The Resistance, 2009
In 2011, Muse finally received their first Grammy award for their 5th studio album, The Resistance (an album which has greatly divided much of the fanbase). At this point in their career, Muse had been shying away from the heavy riffs and dark rock ‘n roll sound for something a bit lighter, more progressive, and symphonic. Though many fans were not pleased with the shift in style, most can agree that the 3-part Exogenesis Symphony that closes the album is a true work of art, and one of Matt Bellamy’s finest compositions.
The 2nd Law, 2012
Two years ago, Musers were graced with the band’s newest album, the highly experimental The 2nd Law. Electronic, dubstep, funk, and, of course, symphonic are just some of the styles that influenced the 13-track album. There are certain aspects that still remain from the band’s earlier days (the same sort of lyrical themes are still there, and, though no longer at the forefront, the epic riffage fans had come to love can still be heard from time to time), but on the whole, the Muse of the 2nd Law era feels like an entirely different band than the one that released Showbiz 15 years ago. Whether that’s for better or for worse is for the fans to decide.
So where will the band go from here? With Muse, it’s anyone’s guess. As they head into the studio to begin recording lucky number 7, there have been hints from both Matt and Dom that we’ll see the boys going back to the heavy, darker rock style that we saw back in the Origin of Symmetry era (news that has excited Musers everywhere). Many fans have appreciated the experimental style that the band has come to be known for, but we miss the guitar-heavy days when things were a little less symphonic, less electronic, and a little more rock ‘n roll.
That’s not to say that fans want those elements to be gone entirely, but a focus back on the heavier guitar riffs and basslines would be just the thing to bring back those fans who have waned a bit over the years as the band’s style developed and matured. Muse have certainly changed as both people and performers since those days, and it will be exciting to see them return to their roots, so to speak. But for now, all we can do is wait, speculate, and enjoy the amazing body of work the boys have left for us in their first 6 records.
Here’s to the first 15 years of Muse albums, and to many, many more.