Muse have taken incredible steps between each of their albums to the extent that they have become genre-less. Any genre in music, Muse probably have a song in that genre. Orchestral, metal, rock, classical, dance and now dubstep are a few of the places the three men from Devon have explored. Their new album, The 2nd Law, doesn’t buck this trend. It’s so different from song to song it’s hard to decipher if it’s all from the same band, never mind the same album.
When you hit play, you’re immediately greeted by a big Led Zeppelin style guitar riff in ‘Supremacy’, which is almost a throwback to their ‘Showbiz’ days. Punctuated with long orchestral Hollywood style verses that sound like they should be on a James Bond credit opener, I can see this song being a crowd favourite. This is followed by their widely acclaimed single, ‘Madness’, which offers a completely different sound. Muse back on form, then.
‘Madness’ can only be described as a chilled out dubstep track. It’s very similar to Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free’, especially during Matt Bellamy’s guitar solo. You couldn’t tell the difference if it was Brian May actually playing the guitar himself. The lyrics are personal and written from the heart, as he talks about the aftermath of a fight between him and his girlfriend. The bass is addictive and Matt’s vocals are absolutely incredible. His range is unreal and it shows in this song.
Track 3 offers something completely different, again. ‘Panic Station’ promises to be one of the crowd favourites, and one of the most utterly delightful catchy tunes on the album. Think Trampled Under Foot by Led Zeppeling mixed with Another One Bites The Dust by Queen. It’s very funky. Matt really lets lose on the vocals and Dominic Howard plays a blinder on the drums. You can tell the band had a lot of fun with this.
The next song is probably one of the most epic songs that Muse have ever made. With heavy riffs, pounding drums, chanting choirs, ‘Survival’ has the grandeur of a Matt Bellamy riding a horse on fire through Mount Everest while playing guitar. Starting off with a fairly Freddie Mercury-style piano intro, the song literally explodes a minute in. It’s a song that deserves to be played in a stadium, with flames and an incredible light show, which is exactly what Muse did when they played it at the closing ceremony of the Olympics. It’s intentionally bombastic, ridiculous and over-the-top, just for the hell of it. A fantastic song.
Silence after the madness, we hear the heartbeat of Matt’s unborn child introduce Muse’s answer to Eurovision. ‘Follow Me’ is a song that wouldn’t be out of place in a modern nightclub. This song was mastered by Nero, which makes sense, as the chorus sounds exactly like Nero themselves.
Muse travel back about 10 years to ‘Animals’. It sounds like a jam that they’d play in between gigs from their Origin of Symmetry tour. Some nice blues work compliments the complex drumming and busy bass grooves. It sounds like a bit of a filler, but is a good song on it’s on. Quite forgettable however, in my opinion. ‘Big Freeze’ sees Muse perform as the world’s biggest U2 tribute band, as Matt finds the delay pedal and even does a solo. Another rather uncomplicated, and fairly forgettable song, unfortunately.
The bassist, Chris Wolstenholme, decides he wants to take up vocal duties, and sings in his own song, ‘Save Me’. It’s a very nice, calm, mellow affair. His soothing voice is a queer difference than Matt’s falsettos. The verses are very chilled out, and Matt even breaks into some Pink Floyd-style guitar work. Chris stays on the microphone for ‘Liquid state’, with a more gritty metal sound. His voice works well with more guitar-based music but sounds like Chester Bennington, singer of Linkin Park, a lot. Muse are definitely onto something here, it’s a wonder why Chris didn’t do lead vocals sooner.
And so we come to the last two songs with the prefix ‘The 2nd Law’. ‘Unsustainable’ is synonymous with most Muse fans, as it was the first piece they ever heard from this album and boy did it cause a stir. The epic orchestral build up gives goosebumps, and builds up to the sound of a news reporters voice talking about therodynamics. She turns into a robot for the words ‘Unsustainable’ and the band break into unknown territory. Rock dubstep. Yes. Dubstep. Then the orchestra gets involved as well before it breaks into a second helping of rock dubstep. Still can’t believe I’m saying that on a Muse review. ‘Isolated System’, ends the album on a trance-y note. It kind of fades away into nothingness. I was expecting a big ending or something but just sort of fizzles out, and I found it a bit of a weak point to end a Muse album. It’s a good song, but I expected something more.
‘The 2nd Law’ is a mix-tape of the past 40 years of music, all integrated into one album, composed by three men from Devon, who have scaled the music industry heights to become one of the biggest bands in the world. However, the more popular they get the more divided their fan base becomes. You only need to look at the YouTube comments ‘Unsustainable’ to see that.
To follow up on their success, they chose to be as different, as bombastic and as diverse as they possibly could. Yes, ‘The 2nd Law’, is a complete different change in direction to ‘The Resistance’. It’s also different from ‘Knights of Cydonia’, ‘Absolution’, ‘Origin of Symmetry’...you get the idea. It’s light years away from the days of ‘Showbiz’, and sometimes I think Muse are light years away from what they could’ve been had they stayed with the sound they had on ‘Absolution’. ‘The 2nd Law’ is a good album with some great moments that are bound to raise eyebrows, and ultimately we will see some live staples such as ‘Supremacy’ and ‘Panic Station’ being played in future shows, but it’s not their best album by a long shot.