2003 release narrowly beats Origin Of Symmetry to be voted their greatest album ever
Michael Baggs

11:09 28th November 2013

More about:

Muse fans have named the band's 2003 album Absolution as the best ever by the iconic Westcountry trio.

In a recent Gigwise poll, the chart topping album narrowly beat 2001 release Origin Of Symmetry to be voted fans' favourite, while their 2006 release, Black Holes and Revelations, placed third. The band's 2008 live album HAARP placed fourth, while their 2013 release, Live At Rome Olympic Stadium was named their fifth best.

Votes were high across all nine of the band's full length releases, but 2002's live album and b-side compilation Hullabaloo was voted least favourite with fans.

Click here to see the poll (now closed)

Matt Bellamy has previously stated that Absolution is one of the more intimate Muse albums, despite epic themes such as life, death, war and outer space. The album scored the band a No.1 in the UK and France and hit the top ten across Europe when it was released on 15 September, 2003.

Watch the official video for Absolution's lead single, 'Time Is Running Out', below

Muse released their most recent album, The 2nd Law in 2012, and have recently begun to discuss plans for a follow-up - tentatively scheduled for release in 2015 (after the band celebrate their 20 year anniversary in 2014). Matt Bellamy has revealed that band will be ditching the electronica heard on The 2nd Law in favour of a return to the rock sounds with which they made their name.

"The last two albums, we sort of veered away from our instruments a little bit," says Bellamy in a recent interview with Radio.com. "We sort of focused on things like synthesizers, drum machines and various electronics and stuff. I kind of feel like on this next album, we’re going to veer back towards musicianship again and focusing on our own instruments: guitar, bass and drums.

"It’s probably going to be a bit of a rawer album, and definitely a bit more rock, I’d say."

He also added, in true Muse style, that the album was likely to be a concept record, and may not be released in the usually manner.

"The main focus is we’re gonna record a bunch of music, probably a conceptual album of some kind, so it probably will be album length. But how we release it is up for debate," he adds, revealing that the new music is still at least a year away.

"The industry is moving so fast, you don’t really know… I don’t think we’ll be ready to put another album out until early 2015 or something, and I think around that time we’ll just look at what’s going on and make a judgement in the moment rather than thinking ahead, because things are changing so quickly."

Below: 10 things you may not have known about Absolution by Muse

  • Home-grown: Despite the album's overblown sound and grand themes of death, religion, the end of the world and of course, space, frontman Matt Bellamy told the NME that the inspiration behind the record was a lot more down to Earth than it's predecessors: "Showbiz was a bit of teenage angst, Origin of Symmetry was about going on tour all the time and losing connection with our family and friends so we don't really know anyone apart from ourselves and even ourselves we didn't know anymore, and Absolution is more about us being personable, about us being normal people at home."

  • Love, Italy and Abba: Muse fans expecting another 'Citizen Erased' shuddered when they first heard Matt refer to Sweden's finest pop export, but luckily all it led to was the insane vocal backing in the chorus of 'Hysteria'. Speaking to NME before the album's release about their more 'uplifting' sound, he said: "I'm not married yet, but I've been drawn into this Italian world. I met this girl from over there so I'm into all that. I think there'll be some songs that are straightforward rock, some of my favourite new songs are like ABBA!"

  • Backwards talking: It's alleged that if you play the chorus to 'Stockholm Syndrome' backwards, Matt sings "You can't see me, we sneak off. I lost to love. Please ... save the night wind and high above, I lost to love. Sing, save." Only a batshit mental Muse fan would discover this.

  • MJ influence: Speaking of the inspiration behind Muse's first UK top hit 'Time Is Running Out', Matt said: "We wanted to go to something more funky, a little bit more... not funky but a little more groovy. It was something we'd never really done before. Something that made you want to click your fingers. Something that was more influenced by someone like Michael Jackson or someone like that. We wanted something that sounded like 'Billie Jean'."

  • Artwork: The now iconic-sleeve made by the late, great Storm Thorgerson, divides opinion among fans. Due to the apocalyptic themes of the album, many believe it to depict souls leaving the Earth while others see an alien invasion. Drummer Dom Howard however, settled the score: "The artwork can either been seen as people coming down to Earth or leaving the Earth, it's open to interpretation". Four different versions of the sleeve exist: one showing a man holding a gas mask, one with a man wearing a gas mask, one with a small girl and two of chaps in suits (like this one here).

  • Fury: Rarity and fan favourite 'Fury' was very, very nearly on the album. Matt wanted it to be on Absolution but Chris and Dom argued that it be dropped in favour of 'The Small Print'. It would later appear as the b-side for 'Sing For Absolution' and appears on the Japanese version of the album - in between 'The Small Print' and 'Endlessly', given the flow of tracks a whole new feel and dimension. The track was being played live as early as the year 2000, and has finds the soft spot in the hearts on hardcore Muse fans everywhere.

  • Printing error: Early versions of the album with the 'making of' DVD featured the tracklisting with 'Interlude' and 'Hysteria' printed the wrong way around. This led to several disappointing evenings of Muse fans requesting 'Hysteria' in bars. There's probably some crazy dedicated fanatics out there who would pay top dollar for 'the wrong version'.

  • In your face: Muse's second (and bloody brilliant) second album was largely ignored in America at the time of release (due to a conflict with their record label about the falsetto in 'Plug In Baby'). So US Muse fans rejoiced when their fortunes turned and the band crossed the pond with a much more 'radio friendly' album. However, on the opening night of the US tour in Atlanta in 2004, Matt Bellamy smashed his face into his guitar and cut it open, claiming that he was used to arenas and not tiny club shows and lost his footing. There's a grim video of it on Youtube somewhere, featuring the now immortal line: "I'm sorry guys, I fucked up my face."

  • The Darkness, who?: Despite shining as the future of arena rock with integrity, Muse took home the 2004 BRIT Award for Best Live Act, but lost out on Best British Rock Act to The Darkness (who also claimed Best British Album). Justin Hawkins also said some mean stuff about Matt Bellamy 'sounding like a cat being sexually assaulted' at the time. Who's laughing now?

  • Triumph and tragedy: The astounding success of Absolution saw Muse headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury for the first time in 2004. While it was seen as a triumph and immortalised in a live DVD, drummer Dom Howard's father died on the Worthy Farm site shortly after their performance. "It was the biggest feeling of achievement we've ever had after coming offstage", said Matt Bellamy . "It was almost surreal that an hour later his dad died. It was almost not believable. We spent about a week sort of just with Dom trying to support him. I think he was happy that at least his dad got to see him at probably what was the finest moment so far of the band's life." The band also headlined V Festival that summer with The Strokes, but more bad luck meant that bassist Chris Wolstenholme broke his wrist in a game of football with Cooper Temple Clause. They poached the bassist from The Streets for a string of shows, who still plays synth with Muse today.

More about: