On 3rd July 2006, Muse released their fourth studio album, Black Holes and Revelations, in the UK.
Being exposed to international attention and acclaim with their previous album, Absolution, Muse released Black Holes just as their mainstream popularity was beginning to rise. Considered one of their best albums of their twenty-two-year lifespan, the album boasts a host of political messages; with frontman Matt Bellamy commenting “the unknown in general” being “a stimulating area for the imagination” which guided their inspiration for the album.
Individual songs such as ‘Take a Bow’, ‘Assassin’ and ‘Exo-Politics’ carry the strength of these political messages throughout the album, whilst others like ‘Invincible’ and ‘Knights of Cydonia’ promote themes of unification and revolution, which also underscore the tone of Black Holes. Muse have never been afraid to tackle political issues in their music, as shown by later hits such as the lesser known ‘United States of Eurasia’.
Muse found a great deal of mainstream acclimation, with many singles pulled from the album. ‘Starlight’, the song from which the album’s title was taken from (“our hopes and expectations, black holes and revelations”) surprisingly only peaked at number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. In addition, the album’s first single ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ reached number 4, making it the highest charting single for the band to date.
To write the album, Muse retreated to France to be free of distractions and revel in the various musical differences. Interestingly, the album was partially recorded in the same studio as Pink Floyd’s The Wall and marked the first time Muse had learned, and got used to working with the studio technology, having previously left it all down to their sound engineers.
On the album’s production, bassist Chris Wolstenholme said it was a “great feeling to know that something big had been done” in that same studio, whilst Bellamy commented on Black Holes marking the first time the band had made an album without concerning themselves about how it would be played live. Ironically, nowadays a multitude of the songs from Black Holes are usual guarantees, and big hits for the band’s live setlists, such as ‘Starlight’, ‘Supermassive Black Holes’, ‘Invincible’ and, often closing their shows, ‘Knights of Cydonia’.
The album was received with very positive reviews, being nominated for a Mercury Prize and named by Planet Sound as the Album of the Year. Similarly, NME placed it at number 3 in their Albums of the Year list, and Q gave it the runner-up spot. It is also currently in the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die book, edited by Robert Dimery.
Have a listen to ‘Knights of Cydonia’ below.