Muse released The Resistance in 2009. It was quite a shock to many Muse fans. Except on a few tracks, the rock was gone and halfway through the album it started changing to Classical music! Many Muse fans were disappointed that their favorite rock band has changed direction, but the album was mostly praised by critics and later it won the Grammy award for the best rock album of the year in 2011.
Fans were eagerly waiting to see what the next move of the band is. Before the release of The 2nd Law, they released a trailer for the album in June 2012. Now we know that the trailer was a part of the 12th track on the album: “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable”. Halfway through the trailer, and dub-step kicks in! Dub-step? Really? The Resistance shock was nothing compared to this! Many fans turned their back to the band and bid farewell to their once beloved band!
About a month later they released “Survival”; accompanied by a prelude. It was announced that Survival would be the official 2012 Olympics song and a month after that, Muse released the first single for this album; “Madness”. None of these songs was met with positive reaction from the fans and they lowered the expectations of the fans.
But now that album is released, it can definitely be said that neither of those songs can be a good representative for the whole record; in fact, you cannot find a single track that can represent this album! The Resistance experimented R&B and Classical music, but this album even takes it further than that! You will be listening to Funk Rock, Electro-pop, Dub-step, Dance-rock as well as Alternative Rock, Progressive Rock, Hard Rock, Classical tracks – all in one album! So how could that be? I would say interesting as well as surprising.
The album starts with big guitar riffs in its first track; “Supremacy”. For the first time after ten years, Bellamy has used a seven string guitar, and the previous one was “Citizen Erased” in their fan-favorite record Origin of Symmetry (OoS). Guitar riff is soon followed by the orchestral instruments that would remind you of “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. Like their past two records, they have opened their album with a song full of hatred towards corrupted politicians and governments, and the lyrics are typical Bellamy style; a very promising song that would surely please old time fans.
The next one is Madness which is the first single of the album. This synth-rock song - especially the short guitar riff in the middle of it - has been compared to Queen. A boring start is ended with a powerful emotional ending, in which Bellamy delivers great vocals. At this point, if you haven’t still been surprised, you would definitely be after the 3rd track starts. “Panic Station” is a funky song and isn’t anywhere near what they had done previously. It seems like Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” has met with Franz Ferdinand, accompanied by a beautiful Bellamy-ish guitar at the end. It is strange, yet it is great.
“Prelude” is a classical piece influenced by Chopin, which is followed by “Survival”. Survival is a bit too much. It seems as though Bellamy wanted to tell the world that I am great in singing high and low notes, playing piano, guitar solos, as well as arranging orchestral and choir stuff. It is weird and catchy, but it certainly could have been better.
“Follow Me” is probably written for Matt’s son who was born last summer. Take “Where the Streets Have no Name” by U2 and add some electronic effects to it and you will have “Follow Me”. Matt’s singing is emotional, as well as the lyrics, and Wolstenholme has done a nice job as the backing vocal, as well as bassist, but when it comes to the chorus part, heavy electronic effects kick in and somehow ruin the song. “Animals” will probably cool down most of Muse long time fans who have probably been shocked by some of the songs so far! Bellamy delivers great guitar performance on this song and the guitar riff in the middle of the song is one of the best moments on this record which will probably remind you of the short solo at the end of “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits. Definitely a great song, especially for OoS-fans.
“Explorers” is a lullaby song which will get mixed reactions by fans. Touchy lyrics and vocals are accompanied by choir at the background. “Big Freeze” is also a strange song. It is definitely influenced by U2’s Zooropa record and you can easily hear signs of Edge’s guitar playing style.
The biggest surprise of the record comes in on “Save Me” where Matt Bellamy is not the lead vocal for the first time in Muse’s discography. Wolstenholme takes the center to sing about his struggle with alcoholism and her wife’s support. It is an emotional track but maybe longer than it should have been. Wolstenholme keeps singing on the next track “Liquid State” as well as doing a great job as the bassist. It is a powerful song, but it really lacks a guitar solo at the end of it.
The last two tracks are trying to depict an apocalyptic environment. “Unsustainable” starts with a nice orchestral piece which is influenced by Hans Zimmer, but halfway through the song, it goes to dub-step! Bellamy said that he wanted to do what Skrillex does by using a guitar, and he does so. But the most annoying part is the robot which keeps repeating the word Unsustainable. “Isolated Systems” is a great ending to the surprise package in The 2nd Law. It starts with piano and other instruments join one by one. A classy ending.
Many great bands have had a point in their life in which they had a radical change from their roots; U2 had Zooropa, Radiohead had Kid A and Queen had Hot Space. Some succeeded in doing so and some went back to what they did before. The problem with The 2nd Law is that it does not follow a structured path; it goes everywhere yet it goes nowhere. Most of the songs are great, but they do not belong to the same album. If Muse is going to depart from their New Prog-Space Rock roots, they really have to pick a path and stick to it.