Album Review: Muse – The 2nd Law

Unlike any Muse album before it, ‘The 2nd Law’ is under enormous scrutiny before it’s October 1st release date.

Their 2009 record ‘The Resistance‘ fell fairly flat of expectations, but its lead single ‘Uprising’ was a rousing powerhouse crammed with electronics and riffs you’d come to expect of one of the biggest bands in the world.

Enter ‘The 2nd Law’, it’s lead single – ‘Madness’ and the Olympic anthem ‘Survival’. Complaints stirred within the fan camp that both are too Queen-like, have lousy lyrics and are just re-hashes of 80’s rock passed off as experimental modern rock. Toss in what is a dubstep Skrillex inspired track – ‘Unsustainable’ and perhaps you’d have the right to worry.

After their full ‘Origin Of Symmetry‘ set at last years Reading & Leeds Festival, it seems as if the trio from Devon have indeed put a lid on that era of music, an era that bode so well for them, an era that would catapult them into future success with 2003’s ‘Absolution’ and 06’s ‘Black Holes & Revolutions’. Each of the three aforementioned records seemed to have a direction, a goal, a concept – Muse were aiming for stars and with ‘Black Holes’, they reached them – Mars in particular.

With ‘The Resistance’ and indeed with ‘The 2nd Law’, it seems to be a mixed blend of songs with different connotations; an album with no penetrable flow. At the end of ‘Black Holes’, they took you to Mars and left you there wanting more. Sure, ‘The 2nd Law: Isolated System’ is a beautiful and haunting instrumental, but it’s a bit dull and all too similar to the ‘Exogenesis’ symphonies which didn’t really work for them.

‘Supremacy’ proves that Bellamy still has it in him to write a thunderous riff, something that features too few on this record. Boasting not only massive riffs, ‘Supremacy’ contains Bellamy’s magnificent falsetto, but again, it doesn’t feature often enough (‘Survival’ the exception).

Lead single ‘Madness’ does its brilliant best to pose as an electronic sexed-up ballad and succeeds, without question taking inspiration from Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free‘ along the way. As does the battle-cry of ‘Survival’, whilst ‘Panic Station’ reeks of ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ providing the band with their funkiest and most ludicrously brilliant song to date.

‘Big Freeze’ also sounds like Brian May himself could’ve written the guitar riff, but Muse stamp their usual environmental issues to its core. Despite what feels like a lot of rehashing, it’s a definite highlight.

For the first time, some tracks are undoubtedly from a personal view of the band. Chris Wolstenholme contributes to ‘The 2nd Law’ with ‘Save Me’ and ‘Liquid State’, two songs about his battle with alcoholism; the latter being a dark journey into his past.

Inspired from the birth of his son Bingham Bellamy, ‘Explorers’ is almost a concealed lullaby from Matt – again, a personal insight.

Surprisingly it’s the Drum & Bass (Skrillex influenced?) ‘Follow Me’ that shines on this album. What seems like nothing out of the ordinary at the beginning blossoms into a bombastic dance-floor filler that will no doubt be a spectacle to behold in their live shows with it’s monstrous beats and pulsating electronics. 10 or 12 years ago, I never thought I’d write that Muse’s best track on an album was inspired by the likes of Skrillex and Nero (Nero was actually the producer on ‘Follow Me’), but alas, this is the time we live in.

Looking back in a few years, ‘The 2nd Law’ is unlikely to be remembered as a classic Muse album by any means.

Epic in places, ridiculous in some, disappointing in others, ‘The 2nd Law’ titillates the ears but boggles the mind culminating in an album brimming with the grandeur but lacking in the originality that Muse previously brought to the table year after year.

3.5 Stars.

Muse – The 2nd Law Tracklisting

2. Madness
3. Panic Station
4. Prelude
5. Survival
6. Follow Me
7. Animals
8. Explorers
9. Big Freeze
10. Save Me
11. Liquid State
12. The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
13. The 2nd Law: Isolated System

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