Muse
The 2nd Law


3.5
great

Review

by Michael B. USER (18 Reviews)
October 14th, 2012 | 15 replies | 2,055 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In an isolated system, the number of Muse reviews can only increase.

8 of 9 thought this review was well written

Have Muse become too supermassive for their own good? After the masterclass in grandiosity that was ‘Black Holes and Revelations’, they succeeded in both cracking the notoriously difficult American market and making the leap to stadium status elsewhere in the world. In their UK homeland in particular they are revered as nothing less than gods by a surprisingly rabid core fanbase for such a mainstream act. So intense is their affection for Muse that the deeply troubled and worryingly overfamiliar follow-up ‘The Resistance’ nonetheless sold by the bucketload. But while the ‘Musers’ rejoiced in that album’s overlong classical symphonies and distasteful attempts at R&B, for the first time the wider musical world weren’t overly impressed. It’s an exaggeration to state that cracks were showing in the armour, but post-‘Resistance’ Muse no longer seemed as critically untouchable, even the NME questioning where the band could go next. How about dubstep, then?

The news that the Teignmouth trio’s sixth full-length, ‘The 2nd Law’, had been influenced by American dubstep producers like Skrillex almost set the internet on fire. The 2 minute trailer released to hype the album only served to stoke the flames- a robot repeatedly garbling the word “UNSUSTAINABLE!” over a dubstep beat and some of Matt Bellamy’s patented guitar squelches. There was a message relating the 2nd law of thermodynamics to the world’s economic problems buried in there somewhere but that soon became lost in the ensuing YouTube comment wars. If all publicity is good publicity then ‘The 2nd Law’ enjoyed a healthy birth, but many were already beginning to suspect that the mighty had finally, completely fallen from grace.

During some moments of this album, that theory certainly seems to have been realised. A Muse album is not a Muse album if no bizarre musical experimentation has been undertaken, and much like on ‘The Resistance’ not everything that is thrown at the wall sticks. The first half of controversial Olympic-theme “Survival” recalls an ELO b-side, including some operatic backing vocals that send it firmly into the box labelled “laughable”. Second single “Madness” takes too long to do anything interesting; “Big Freeze” doesn’t manage it at all. And whoever came up with the idea of re-hashing ‘Resistance’ clunker “Guiding Light” as the slightly-less-awful-but-still-pretty-damn-bad “Explorers” deserves 10 lashings from the cat o’nine tails. It’s a song so without merit that it makes the aforementioned dubstep number “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” sound downright exciting, despite its awkward transitions and over-reliance on that god-damn robot.

But that’s the ugly side to ‘The 2nd Law’- now we shall turn its face. “Supremacy” is perhaps the best Muse album opener since “New Born”- a Led Zeppelin indebted hard rock strut complete with slashing strings and the best use of Bellamy’s falsetto in ages. “Panic Station” takes the bassy funk of “Supermassive Black Hole” to its logical conclusion, with some jazzy brass included to elevate the song to top-tier status. “Animals” fuses the syrupy guitar licks of “Hoodoo” with the tumbling rhythms of “Map of the Problematique” to form a great song that is undeniably Muse. These are moments on which the band sounds comfortable without being boring, something they never managed on ‘The Resistance’.

Other experiments succeed wholeheartedly, particularly the songs penned by bassist Chris Wolstenholme. The ambient balladry of “Save Me” and the surging garage rock of “Liquid State” work well as a pairing through musical contrast and similar lyrical themes, while Wolstenholme’s soft yet sharp voice is refreshingly different to Bellamy’s Freddy Mercury-esque croon and wailing falsetto. The band even succeed in bringing dubstep into their sound on the huge sounding “Follow Me”, Nero’s enormous production work underpinning Bellamy’s voice perfectly on a stadium-sized chorus. And while the first half of “Survival” is mildly excruciating, the second is perhaps as barnstorming as anything this band have ever crafted, huge Rammstein riffage lacerated with Van Halen guitar shredding and a now well-utilised choir to wonderfully melodramatic effect.

Closing shop with the surprisingly subtle Mike Oldfield-meets-Radiohead soundscape “The 2nd Law: Isolated System”, Muse have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on a wildly inconsistent album that nonetheless boasts some fantastic songs worthy to enter the band’s infamously overblown live set. There’s little in the way of cohesion but there’s enough enjoyable material here to merit repeat listening, particularly in the album’s first half. Unlike its predecessor, ‘The 2nd Law’ sounds very much like the band are having fun, and as such most listeners will have a great deal of fun too. Where they will go from here is anyone’s guess. The warning on the twin title tracks that anything based on endless growth is UNSUSTAINABLE could be a worry for this most enormous-sounding of bands, but for now Muse seem happy to continue crafting their planet-sized cyber-rock into ever more unique structures.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Douglas
October 14th 2012



8984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Really nice wrote up, probably not needed, but pos none the less.

FearOfTheDuck
October 14th 2012



206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm sure it wasn't needed, hence the summary. But just thought I'd weigh in with my two cents.

toxin.
October 14th 2012



11820 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, nice but unnecessary review.

sulkenigma
October 14th 2012



62 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It's easy to tell that this review wasn't just one immediately posted straight after the album streamed (which I'm guilty of haha) and you pretty much summed up the album perfectly, far better than me. Pos'd.

toxin.
October 14th 2012



11820 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

This is probably the longest comment sequence of positive ratings we'll see for this album

DarthMann
October 14th 2012



13467 Comments


keep it going boys

TheNotrap
October 14th 2012



7818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Nice work, have a pos.


Brostep
Staff Reviewer
October 14th 2012



3013 Comments


SO MANY REVIEWS

nice job though, have a pos

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johnnydeking29
October 14th 2012



8664 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

shit

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chambered49
October 14th 2012



1727 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

give me origin of symmetry or give me death

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2012



14506 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

pos'd bcos it was a nice review and the summary lessened the blow of seeing another review of it

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BraydenCole
October 14th 2012



79 Comments


agreed

pos

Youtellme
October 14th 2012



1351 Comments


Probably gonna be the most reviewed album this year...

newjunkaesthetic93
October 14th 2012



1871 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

You geeks need to stop reviewing this.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2012



23649 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

i disagree with a lot of what you're saying seeing how this album is terrible, but it was a really well written piece. have a pos.

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