Muse – The 2nd Law (2012) – Album Review

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First of all I’d just like to mention this is my first album review. I’ll probably do more of new releases if I enjoy it… I would say if people enjoy it but… only about 3 people if I’m lucky read my reviews.

Regardless. I will be talking in rather plentiful detail about the songs individually and the album as a whole. If you want you can just skip to my verdict but I’m going to be typing as I listen to it for the second or third time so… yeah… let’s just see how this goes shall we?

When Resistance came out me and my friends were divided in half over who liked it and who didn’t, I enjoyed it and although it wasn’t as ‘heavy’ as their other albums (I was in a huge metal phase) I still appreciated what they did and also enjoyed it, some of my other friends understandably didn’t like the change.

When they announced that the next album would be different I was interested to see what they did next. I was not impressed at first by the singles, I understood Survival had to be simple for it’s purpose and Madness eventually grew on me… that may be down to it being stupidly catchy. Anyway. Lets get onto it.

Song Analysis

Supremacy – I first saw this song live when the videos from Germany (I think) were put on the internet. I thought a more riff based song was pretty cool and was glad I was enjoying one of their latests songs finally. When the strings start I start to feel a similar vibe to that of Kasmir by Led Zeppelin or even a James Bond theme, the strings are very ‘Bond like’. The whole song reminds me of older Muse, I can’t pinpoint an exact era but I guess they didn’t want the first track to be overly unfamiliar. I really enjoyed the double time section towards the end. It’s probably a track people who don’t like Resistance will enjoy more.

Madness – Did not like song at all at first. But after many many listens I realised how catchy almost every aspect of is. I recognise vocal melodies from Queen songs (Somebody To Love I think) but after I overcame my immediate negativity and opened my mind more I think the song progresses really well. The song also alludes to Muse’s U2 influence, the clean guitar (with delay on too probably) is very ‘The Edge’. The guitar solo is still very Brian May, that’s indisputable but I still now enjoy it. It definitely takes a few listens and an open mind to truly enjoy it and realise it’s a very nice song. Probably wouldn’t choose it on my iPod but if it came on I wouldn’t skip it straight. The vocals after the last chorus are very very nice too.

Panic Station – Another Queen one. Another One Bites the Dust. But it’s also another one which is damn catchy! The ad lib’s between all the vocal lines are enjoyable especially when he bursts into a falsetto. The chorus is brilliant, when the brass/synths comes in on the second one too it really brings it to a new level. The guitar solo has bit that resemble House of the Rising Sun which may have been intentional.

Prelude + Survival – I’m lumbering these two tracks together. A more symphonic one and another that reeks of Queen. Survival was the song for the London 2012 Olympic Games so it’s understandable why it has to be simple lyrically and musical. Lyrically the song isn’t very good, very simple words and predictable rhymes. Instrumentally I think it’s more interesting. The choirs make it all easier to listen to and the chorus is incredibly explosive. I know the whole song reminds everyone of Queen, even the guitar solo but… It grows again, just have to put aside the lyrics. Also Bellamy’s falsettos are incredible in this track. The guitars towards the end are great too.

Follow Me – The song reminds me of older Muse during the first section but as the song progresses it turns into more of a ‘dance’ track. I don’t think this is all that bad. I think it works. I think if Matt wasn’t singing on it, people wouldn’t know it was Muse and would think it was a great upbeat song. One of the better ones on the album

Animals – A song in 5/4 for the prog nerds out there. A bit ‘jazzier’ than the other tracks, fast considering there are no heavy instruments. The guitar is playing over the top is improvised. Towards the end of the song is a very light ‘breakdown’ with a lightly distorted guitar whilst noises of a crowd play over. One of the tracks I like too.

Explorers – I just noticed that the opening verse reminds me so much of Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. The song seems more of a lullaby at the start, very soft piano and Matt not singing very aggressively. It’s a bit repetitive I think. Seems more like a filler, personally. Not all that bad but just not very impressive.

Big Freeze – Start uses the same guitar effect as Map of the Problematique, but not so much that it’s just a rehash of old techniques. Also it’s nowhere as good as MotP. This track draws heavily on the U2 influences. The chorus’ first vocal harmony is also very similar to Map of the Problematique. Again the guitar solo reminds me of Brian May. I understand their are perhaps showing off their influences more but.. it gets a bit much. Probably one of the weaker tracks on the album… at least how I feel about it right now.

Save Me – I believe this is on of the tracks where Chris sings. He has a nice voice. The track is quite nice, it’s probably one I’ll turn to when I’m not feeling heavier music. I think the guitar solo could be nice if it didn’t just sound like he was practising his scales, don’t want to say he should shred but do something a bit more interesting, it’s got a good vibe. Just the wrong notes.

Liquid State – Reminds me of one of the tracks off Resistance (Unnatural Selection). Well… the riff does… a tiny bit. I don’t think Chris particularly has a bad voice, it’s quite nice. Just unsure if he should be singing Muse songs… it’s complicated… he suits the tracks… I don’t know I’m rambling. The song isn’t that bad, perhaps should have been placed earlier on in the album to give it more life. It’s not all that bad, a ‘good track’.

The 2nd Law : Unsustainable – The instrumentals at the start I think are cool, very interesting and well written. When the newscaster starts speaking it really makes you realise something big is going to happen. However when the ‘dub-step’ comes in I just feel it’s a cheap trick… and a trick that’s been overly done. Yeah sure doing it on guitars (which are then plugged into computers anyway) is cool, but… don’t know… just don’t think they really tried. It’ll be awesome live! But not feeling it on a cd, seems too unstructured.

The 2nd Law : Isolated System – Intro actually reminds me of Dream Theater, quite like it so far. It’s an instrumental so I can see a lot of people skipping it. It’s not that bad, it’s a nice closure to the album

Verdict

  I was interested to see what they’d do. Then disappointed with the singles. However, finally listening to the album with an open mind I think it’s better than I presumed it would be. But I still don’t think it’s that good. It’s no Origins, don’t think it’s even better than Resistance. It kind of gets less interesting as it progresses. Starts of quite well to be honest, and tracks like Madness have grown on me quite nicely. There are some good moments, but I think I can hear too much of other bands to be honest.

Nothing wrong with exploring influences, but some of the parts on this album are almost copies of U2 and Queen. It’s not all that bad but I think Muse need to spend a lot of time writing an album that the fans will enjoy next, something that packs a huge punch like Absolution or Black Holes. I know they have it in them.

Score = 4/10

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