On July 17, 2001, the second studio album by "Muse" - "Origin of Symmetry", was released, and this is definitely one of the great, bold, and successful rock albums of the 2000s.
This is an album where the sound and style of "Muse" began to take shape and crystallize. An album in which the band stretched its boundaries and went "all in", both in terms of the experimental writing that combined several genres and in terms of the range of instruments the band used which included mellotron, church organ, and even animal bones, nylons and bubble wrap. It's an album that turned the small band from the fishing town near Devon, England into a stadium monster and one of the most interesting and important bands of the millennium.
Looking at the level of writing, accuracy, and performance of "Origin of Symmetry", it is hard to believe that we almost missed all this goodness called "Muse", if they had not won a young bands competition in 1994, when they were still called "Rocket Baby Dolls".
"Origin of Symmetry" comes about two years after the debut album "Showbiz", which was released in May 1999. After the release of "Showbiz", the band went on a long tour, during which the material for what would become one of the band's greatest albums was written.
As they ride on top of the relative success of their debut album "Showbiz", Christopher Wolstenholme, Dominic Howard, and Matt Bellamy felt confident enough to give free rein to their desires. They went with their musical truth and decided to go wild with a tremendous epic piece that combines a crazy variety of styles, ranging from classical music and opera, through space rock and progressive rock to electronics, alternative, psychedelia, hard rock, and metal. A real feast for the ears. The main contributors to this "psychic" end result besides the band members, were the producers John Leckie, who pushed the band to experiment with new musical instruments and styles and stretch their sound boundaries to the limit, and David Bottrill who worked with bands like "Tool", "deus" and "King Crimson".
We must say that this album was a complete surprise for us. It's not that we did not hear the tremendous potential on the debut album "Showbiz", but we certainly did not expect to get such a complex, unique and different album. To tell the truth, when "Showbiz" went on the air, we also followed the critics' opinions. We too made the obvious comparison to "Radiohead" and also for us Matt Bellamy's shivering voice sounded a little bit like Jeff Buckley. Not that there is anything wrong with these comparisons, these are two of our favorite artists in the 1990s, but this comparison stood in a shabby and pale light against the mighty album "Origin of Symmetry" released in 2001.
It was a crazy album. Something that sounded like nothing else from that period, a combination of so many genres that were our favorites, put in a blender and mixed well, to the crystallization of this masterpiece that on the one hand was very innovative, but on the other hand, brought us back to "origin", and contrary to the album title, which was influenced by Michio Kaku's book, did not left a single drop of "symmetry" in these "origin", just like its inner cover with Darrell Gibbs' illustration depicting people walking into a giant white cube with the tiny letters above the door saying "Chaos."
You could say that compared to the previous album, everything "Origin of Symmetry" became more "extreme". The deafening feedbacks, the distortion on Christopher Wolstenholme's bass that also became more dominant, Bellamy's Manson "Custom Made" guitar that included a built-in "Z.Vex Fuzz Factory" effect and contributed to the rough sound, the immense stretch of Matt's voice that sometimes sounds even operatic, Dominic Howard's drum set that was expanded to include a variety of percussion and even the recording method, mainly in "Live" in the studio, in order to try and recreate the energies and powers that "Muse" has on stage.
We always say that when you do something from the heart, it must be expressed in the result. "Origin of Symmetry" is probably one of the best examples of this, but it probably wouldn't have happened if "Muse" hadn't been confident enough and got encouragement from the record label and producers. This confidence allowed them to write the music they wanted to create and not the music they were expected to write.
The final product is one of the great and important albums of the first decade in the current millennium, which to this day, over twenty years later, shakes us time and time again. From the pianos of the opening song "New Born", to the mellotron carpets in the final track "Megalomania", it is a crazy colorful celebration of genres and sounds that penetrates the cerebral cortex to the temporal lobe and causes hallucinations and changes of consciousness and sometimes even uncontrollable convulsions.
Each song on this album touches a different nerve in our body and sends us to a different place on the globe, back and forth in time across the musical history. "Micro Cuts" and "Space Dementia" send us to experience the classical influences of Bach and Rachmaninoff and experience a bit of opera, the classical guitar in "Screenager", which refers to the influence of "screens" on teenagers, for moments sends us to Spain and the Middle East, "Hyper Music" full of "punk" rage and the leading riff of "Plug In Baby" corresponds with Bach's famous "Toccata". The bass work on "Darkshines" sounds to us like an interpretation of "Another One Bites the Dust" with Latin / Spanish influences and all this beauty is before we even mentioned the amazing cover of "Feeling Good", which became famous with the help of Nina Simone. At first, Matt Bellamy did not want it on the album because he thought the band should not include covers on the album, but he eventually changed his mind since his girlfriend at the time loved Nina Simon.