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Origin of Symmetry

4.7 out of 5 stars 305 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 20, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

After 2004's U.S. breakthrough success for U.K. favorite Muse, the band's second album, 2001's Origin of Symmetry, finally earns its stateside release. Last yeasr's Absolution and major performances across the country won legions of American fans for the band that was the prestigious closing act at London's V2004 Festival. Now these new fans can experience an earlier Muse with Origin of Symmetry.


Pomposity, bombast, pretension and prog-rock: they're four crimes that blight the landscape of modern music and Origin Of Symmetry--the second record by Teignmouth, U.K. angst-rockers Muse--is guilty of every single one. But the truly astonishing thing about this record is the way it twists every one of these cardinal musical sins into spectacularly silly and starkly individual strengths. Where their debut album Showbiz was rightly dismissed as little more than Radiohead-lite, here Muse sound defiantly like their own band: on "New Born", they're torn somewhere between the purity of front man Matt Bellamy's angelic vocal tones and the corruption of a huge, dirty, distorted bass riff that electrifies the sound into crackling life; on the fraught, operatic "Bliss", they sound like an unholy--but very welcome--cross between synth-heavy Krautrock legends Tangerine Dream and youthful choirboy angst-peddlers JJ72; and even a wonderfully dippy take on the Nina Simone-popularised jazz standard "Feeling Good" is carried off with the requisite deadpan countenance. Bellamy's impassioned voice, in particular, is on spectacular form, soaring skywards until it cracks into a beautiful falsetto reminiscent of Jeff Buckley's greatest vocal moments. So gloriously overblown, it deserves to be huge--Origin Of Symmetry is a fascinating, flamboyant and satisfyingly individual album. --Louis Pattison

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. New Born
  2. Bliss
  3. Space Dementia
  4. Hyper Music
  5. Plug In Baby
  6. Citizen Erased
  7. Micro Cuts
  8. Screenager
  9. Dark Shines
  10. Feeling Good
  11. Megalomania

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 20, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Maverick
  • ASIN: B000AMPZF8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (305 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. C. Bailey on June 23, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I heard this album by accident when my 13 year old daughter brought it home, and I was stunned by it. I have to say (with affection) that it's wasted on her, and I'm not sure there are many other teenagers around who will grasp why Muse are so important. In fact you probably have to be a 40-something like me to fully appreciate who their influences have been and what the young band has done with them.
The trouble with Muse is that they make the creation of superb art rock look so easy that most listeners will take it for granted. Unless you've been around a few years and listened to a few other bands' attempts to create this sort of music, then you may fail to appreciate the unique mix of creative talent, inspiration, sheer hard work, and encyclopaedic knowledge of rock history that must have gone into this project.
Sadly, the only influence most reviewers on this site have spotted has been Radiohead. That's fair enough up to a point. Matt Bellamy sounds a bit like Thom Yorke on some songs, and Muse owe Radiohead an even more important debt: It's only because Radiohead carved out a mass market for this kind of art-rock back in the late 90's that there is an opening for new bands like Muse now. However, it is unfair to write Muse off as copyists. On the contrary, they have in some respects surpassed Radiohead at their best, matching the sonic ambition of Radiohead's later work without sacrificing the melodic sweep and the compelling hooks that made "The Bends" so listenable. What's more, Bellamy's voice is a considerably more flexible and emotionally powerful instrument than Yorke's, and embraces far older and deeper influences going right back to the late '60's.
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Format: Audio CD
To preface this review - I have noticed a few comments and reviews, both here and elsewhere, comparing this album to 'Black Holes and Revelations' and suggesting that Origin of Symmetry is boring, repetitive, or merely represents an embryonic version of Muse's current sound. With the greatest of respect, those sentiments reflect a failure to listen to this album with sufficient patience, a perspective on the point in time at which it was released, and a musically open mind. Origin will not hit you with poppy, catchy songs like Revelations (although it has its catchy moments), but it is by far the more consistent album and will reward a serious listener with arguably Muse's best work so far.

Origin allowed Muse, previously a promising band often likened to Radiohead, to fully demonstrate the breathtaking scope of their sound and ambition. Unlike the relatively dour and understated work of many of their contemporaries, Muse chose to mix the grandeur of classical music, metal, prog rock, and 'alternative' rock to create a massive, grandiose soundscape like no other. Several of the tracks on this album include piano passages from Rachmaninoff; throughout one also encounters huge orchestral-type arrangements, spectacular organ, light-and-dark contrast of the kind not heard since the heyday of the Smashing Pumpkins, and some truly awesome falsetto singing.

Ultimately though, this band is about intelligent guitar driven rock, and I doubt that there is a better current exponent of incendiary yet scientifically precise guitar playing than Matt Bellamy. The songs on Origin provide ample scope for Bellamy's virtuosity, from riff-driven tracks like "Plug In Baby" to the massive stadium sound of "Citizen Erased" and the spanish-tinged guitar of "Darkshines"...
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Format: Audio CD
While British rock band Muse are big in the UK, the US is only just starting to get acquainted with these original, entrancing musicians. And their second album, "Origin of Symmetry," they accomplish the almost impossible -- every song is epic and thrilling.

The first two songs open with delicate rippling piano intros that suddenly blossom into rock riffs. Feedback kicks off into sizzling basslines and riffs in "Plug In Baby" and "Citizen Erased," while wind chimes and an acoustic melody are at the heart of "Screenager." "Hyper Music" is the only dud. It's a discordant clatter that becomes a discordant rock song -- nuff zed.

But as good as most of the album is, Muse save the best for absolute last. The penultimate song "Feeling Good" is perhaps the best -- fuzzy chopsticks start the song, followed by a stretch of epic rock and soaring vocals. The finale is no less entrancing, a slowly stately wave of sound that slowly transitions into an equally rich rock song.

Americans really got to know Muse through their latest album, "Absolution." But it's not the only album they have done, nor is it the best. "Origin of Symmetry" may well take that honor, or at least tie with their debut "Showbiz." Relatively few people know about these earlier albums, or about the rich apocalyptic quality of Muse at their best.

Muse is definitely a band for Radiohead fans -- it has the same rich spaciness and art-rock quality, but it's more grounded and gritty. The most entrancing instrumentation is done on piano -- it can be delicate, dark, fuzzy, or outright epic. The piano is accompanied by smashing percussion, sinuous riffs and basslines, and sweeps of spellbinding electronics.

Matt Bellamy puts his good vocals to use in every song, and he's as versatile as his piano.
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