Muse – Origin of Symmetry Turns Twenty

Earlier in June, Muse’s sophomore album Origin of Symmetry celebrated its twentieth anniversary. This marked twenty years of the futuristic, dystopian project which has not only become a trade mark in Muse’s discography but also cemented itself as a classic in the hard rock genre. 

To begin to understand this album, it is important to look at the title. Taken from the theoretical physicist Michio Kaku’s book with the same title, lead singer Matt Bellamy mentioned in an interview how “the name of the album ‘Origin Of Symmetry’, is from a book about geometry of the universe and how it’s all in beautiful balance, a perfect thing in ten dimensions.”

The futuristic, sci-fi theme of the album is apparent from the first track ‘New Born’. Backed by a haunting keyboard, the track seems to constantly build in this anxiety inducing song. This fear, replicated by the instrumentation, mirrors Matt’s anxiety of the future of technology. The lyrics provide a bleak future of the world where technology immerses itself into human life breaking away any form of humanity. The theme of this track feels like a microcosm to the perception of technology at the time of Origin of Symmetry’s release with a growing fear of what this could mean at the turn of the century.

This dystopian theme continues through the album with tracks such as ‘Space Dementia’ using the condition of dementia caused by space travel as a metaphor for his feelings towards the person in the track. A heavy bass riff glues together the explosive drums and Matt’s impeccable vocals. Amid all the complex lyrics and instrumentation, the band still have time to interpolate an orchestral piece by Sergei Rachmaninoff. What is even more impressive, is that it is not rare for Muse to interpolate classical music into their work. 

Perhaps one of the most striking things to this album is the vocal range which Matt exhibits. Each song displays Matt’s vocal ability to its fullest with tracks such as ‘Micro Cuts’ seeing Matt hit G5/G#5. These vocal performances are far more than simply performative though. They parallel the fear of what the future holds in the twenty first century with development in technology and loss of humanity. 

In celebration of the twentieth anniversary of this album, Muse have also released a new remix version entitled Origin of Symmetry XX.

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Tom Manning

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November 2021
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