Muse – Muse: Under Review DVD

Muse – Muse: Under Review

The story of a band like Muse is an interesting one to follow – to say the least. Through releases they’ve only gained more and more fans, while growing a steady amount of detractors. The latter complain of over-the-top arrangements, outlandish compositions and claim an unoriginal style. On Muse Under Review, you get the people that sit on the opposite of that spectrum, the people who’ve worked with the band, who’ve closely followed the band and who’ve aided the band’s efforts. They’re the people that find them to be the innovators, who feel they are singular and who feel they are uniquely significant. It’s a worthy DVD because of the people who worked on it and one that will surely have die-hard fans ecstatic.

In a few instances, though, the DVD also tries to make way too much out of something that just isn’t there. Besides the numerous people that claim that Muse were the ‘world’s biggest band’ during different points of their career, there’s a section where the journalists claim artists like Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart were chief influences. Not only does it portray Muse in a light that doesn’t quite suit them but it’s a far fetched stretch. While people always notice their classical leanings, their hard rock influence and Matt Bellamy’s terrific voice, I’ve never thought the likes of Jimi Hendrix (for example) were clouded under Muse’s towering sound.

One shining moment is making sense of this dreaded Radiohead comparison that has always plagued Muse and will probably continue to do so until the very end. Following their signing onto Maverick, the band hit the studio with John Leckie who was already responsible for producing Radiohead’s The Bends. Leckie would go on and produce Muse’s debut Showbiz and so naturally, the similarities would be obviously clear. Leckie himself calls the comparison nothing more than “lazy journalism” but it gives a concrete example of where it all started. Whether the comparison is valid or not, is entirely up to us listeners.

These moments are where a band documentary like Under the Review possesses a slice of credibility above the others. Leckie, who also produced the band’s second album, Origin of Symmetry, is a strong voice, along with ex-manager Safta Jaffrey. Each provides insight as to where the band was going and where there desires all came to fruition. So much so that even though you have the critics and reviewers sharing their own personal moments of when they became “true fans of Muse,” it’s refreshing to hear what someone who was actually working with the band actually saw. Jaffrey points out how important the piano is in Muse’s sound and how “it added a lot more and we were all for it,” before cutting to a live setting for “New Born.”

But bringing all of these thoughts onto the foreground also displays how Muse and Bellamy for that matter, always believed in taking chances to reach their goal. Their initial success came after winning a Battle of the Bands contest where they defeated all the other pop/rock bands by being as noisy as possible. And through rare photos, live footage and interviews showing the band’s progression and growth as a full-fledged musical outfit, you find a band that has not only made it against all odds but they’ve made it their own way.

The extras include a near-ten minute inclusion entitled “Capturing the Muse,” where we take a look at the band’s approach in designing their stage and ensuing marketing efforts, as well as bios for the contributors. This isn’t a concert DVD that features the band rocking out on stage – that is supposedly slated for later on this year – but while it’s geared towards fanatics with all of its precise details; above all else it makes you want to put on their music, as loud as possible.

Sexy Intellectual/Chrome Dreams