I’ve talked a lot about Muse and how awesome they are, but I think it’s time I talk about one man in particular – Chris Wolstenholme. His basslines on Muse records are always stellar, and some of them rank among the best basslines of all time. He’s a real inspiration to me, and a big reason why I picked up a bass guitar a few years ago. How would I rank the Muse albums in terms of their bass performances?
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8 – Simulation Theory
- Thought Contagion
I hate to say it, but the latest effort from Muse didn’t exactly showcase Wolstenholme’s immense talent. I do like the album itself (unlike some fans), but I can only think of two tracks that have a stand-out bassline.
“Pressure” is the clear winner for this one, as it’s the only one with a proper bassline throughout. It sort of reminds me of “Supermassive Black Hole”, which is definitely a good thing. The other track is “Thought Contagion”, which has a cool bass intro but that’s literally it. Hopefully the next studio album will feature some more prominent bass parts.
7 – Showbiz
- Muscle Museum
For a debut album, “Showbiz” is surprisingly solid. It’s far from their best, but you can tell Muse were a group of talented musicians from the very beginning.
Tracks like “Cave” and “Uno” have some great heavy basslines, and Cave in particular is a favourite of mine to play. Even the bassline in “Muscle Museum”, which is deceptively easy to play, was a main reason why it was the band’s first hit.
I think the coolest bass part has to be in “Sunburn”, where Chris’s bass riffs work perfectly with the piano, vocals, drums and guitar. It gives the track an enormous weight, and it was the perfect first song on the band’s first album.
6 – The 2nd Law
- Panic Station
- Liquid State
Now we get to the really good albums for bass, and while “The 2nd Law” is quite experimental (a bit like “Simulation Theory”), it still has some highly memorable bass parts.
The opening track “Supremecy” is supposedly one of Wolstenholme’s favourites to play, and I can see why – it’s a fantastic riff that wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond film. Also, Chris wrote a couple of his own songs for this album, and “Liquid State” is definitely the better of the two – it’s insanely heavy, and is bound to get any crowd moving.
There are a couple of underrated gems on here as well: “Explorers” and “Animals” deserve more love for how great they are, and the latter almost was my favourite bassline on the whole album. That accolade, however, has to go to “Panic Station”, because slap bass was always going to win any competition.
5 – The Resistance
- Undisclosed Desires
- Guiding Light
- Unnatural Selection
I think “The Resistance” is a very middle-of-the-road album for a lot of fans, and I think the quality of the basslines are also average by Muse’s lofty standards – but they’re still great.
The album opens with the one-two punch of “Uprising” and “Resistance”, which were both huge hits in their own right. One could argue that the bassline to “Uprising” was one of the main reasons for its huge success; it plods away nicely in the background of Bellamy’s rebellious lyrics.
“Guiding Light” is unfairly hated on by a lot of fans – it probably is the worst song on the album, but it’s still pretty good. It has one of the best bass parts on Resistance, reminiscent of “Uprising” in the way it uses octaves. Also, “Unnatural Selection” has a riff that deserves more mainstream recognition.
I loved the slap bass on “Panic Station”, so it’s no surprise that the same technique found on “Undisclosed Desires” makes it my favourite. “The Resistance” has three of the strongest opening tracks ever, especially in terms of bass, so I’ll always consider it to be an amazing album.
4 – Black Holes and Revelations
- Supermassive Blackhole
- City of Delusion
- Knights of Cydonia
It feels weird putting my favourite Muse album in only the “Great” tier, but in all fairness the bass isn’t meant to be the prominent feature – the band were experimenting with their sound, so synths are more commonplace here.
That’s not to says the basslines aren’t excellent – “Starlight” is simple but effective, “Exo-Politics” is an underrated riff, “City of Delusion” has some great bass fills that give the song its charm, and “Knights of Cydonia” is obviously a masterpiece with phenomenal instrument performances all round.
It was a close one, but I think the bass part on “Supermassive Black Hole” is my favourite on this record. The verses have a fantastic, simple riff which has become iconic, and the chorus is deceptively tricky with how it moves around. I really like how the bass is used throughout this album, so a lot of songs could have taken the top spot.
3 – Drones
- Dead Inside
- The Handler
- The Globalist
After “The 2nd Law” (which had great basslines but experimentation was the main focus) it was nice for Muse to return to their rock roots.
When making this list, I was surprised by the sheer number of fantastic basslines on offer: “Dead Inside” is an excellent opening track, “Psycho” is obviously a great riff (even if a little bit overrated), “Mercy” has an amazing bass line throughout, and “The Handler” is another awesome riff that deserves a mention.
A couple of the final tracks “Aftermath” and “The Globalist” have great basslines for different reasons – particularly in “Aftermath”, the bass serves almost as a lovely melody; Muse took the calmer, more meaningful route instead of the balls-to-the-wall approach of the other basslines.
I think my favourite one would have to be “Reapers” for a multitude of reasons – the verse riffs are unbelievably fast / hard to play and Chris does it with ease, the choruses pack a huge punch, and the outro! The heavy metal / death metal (whatever you call it) outro to “Reapers” might be my favourite musical moment on “Drones”, and the simple but clever pedal point bassline is the main reason for it.
2 – Absolution
- Time is Running Out
- Stockholm Syndrome
- Butterflies and Hurricanes
- The Small Print
One word – “Hysteria“.
You want more than one word? Fine. That track alone is enough to put this in “All-Time Great”, but some of the other basslines are just as iconic – “The Small Print”, “Butterflies and Hurricanes” and especially “Stockholm Syndrome” chug along nicely, the latter being one of the fastest basslines in Muse’s entire discography.
The other famous bass part is definitely “Time is Running Out”, which has an opening bass riff guaranteed to get any crowd pumped. Also, I know it’s a bonus track and technically shouldn’t count, but “Fury” still blows my mind to this day with its heavy, doom-ridden riffs.
What can I say about “Hysteria” that hasn’t already been said? I would probably call it the greatest bassline of all time, and that alone is enough to secure Wolstenholme’s place among the pantheon of great bass players in rock history.
1 – Origin of Symmetry
- New Born
- Hyper Music
- Plug In Baby
- Citizen Erased
- Micro Cuts
I don’t think there will ever be a better album in terms of bass. Every song on here could have made the list, and many of them could have been the best bass part on the album.
The one-two punch of “New Born” and “Bliss” already contain some top 10 Muse bass parts, and we’re just getting started. “Plug In Baby” has a bass part that gets overshadowed (probably deservedly so) by Bellamy’s guitar riff, “Citizen Erased” and “Micro Cuts” have some insanely heavy riffs, and “Darkshines” is Chris’s most soulful and groovy bassline.
My favourite has to be “Hyper Music”, which uses pedal point extremely effectively. You could argue that the bassline (and maybe Matt’s vocals) carry this song completely, and since it’s already one of my favourite songs that’s quite an accomplishment.
If I’m including the bonus track, then “Futurism” (a bit like an early version of Hysteria) would take joint top spot. Sometimes I wonder if “Origin of Symmetry” should be my favourite Muse album, and with basslines like these it definitely gets close.
Aaaaand that’s my list. This is probably my last Muse list for the foreseeable future, so if you’re sick to death of them then you’ll be rid of them soon. Check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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