Released: Oct 1, 2012
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop, Dubstep
Label: Helium 3, Warner
Number Of Tracks: 13
In the same way that Dethklok once made an album for fish, Muse have put together a piece of art for all the robots out there.
The 2nd Law
Colohue, on december 21, 2012 13 of 24 people found this review helpful
Sound: "The 2nd Law", Muse's latest attempt at a musical masterpiece to wet the appetite of anybody who seems to enjoy their perspective on life, is difficult to put into words, and even harder to define. If pushed, I would say that it resembles being asked to apply toppings to a pizza, and being given 12,000 plastic robot soldiers to do it with.
What the hell am I supposed to do with this? I am lost beyond words right now. The name comes from the second law of thermodynamics. Particularly, the classical variation based on the Shannon entropy. It's a complex metaphor to choose, but it's one that Muse seem to largely ignore until the later tracks on the surface of things. Broken down into simple terms though, the metaphor is this. Too much of the same thing is not helpful in the long term. Change is necessary. // 8
Lyrics: The opening track, "Supremacy", speaks of older Muse. The bassline is heavy and strong, Bellamy's lyrics speak of competing - taking down the big guns in a way that echoes "The Resistance". It is a strong, militant track, bearing such challenging lyrics as "the time it has come to destroy your Supremacy." To open with such a blatantly defiant track speaks volumes about the way Muse want this album to be perceived. It also ends with a western echo, similar to "Knights Of Cydonia", presenting quite a nice throwback to old Muse.
And then, abruptly, that all changes, and we are presenting with the aptly named "Madness". This is not rock and roll, but is a Queen-esque little love song. The repetitive drone in the background starts out quite annoying, and some are bound to find it so the whole way through, but the layers of the track are such that it soon fades into the background. The beat is obvious, making this quite a nice, calm song to do a bit of a dance to. This is also the first track to really show how deeply this album appeals to the robot. I could do the robot to most of these tracks, and so could you, I'm sure. The solo displays the Queen influence again, but it is in the final section that Bellamy seeks to make the Muse mark on it.
The third song is called "Panic Station". Again, the beat comes in strong from the off, and the lyrical echo, which becomes a feature of this album, begins. This song actually belies the title completely. It's about taking ownership of yourself and your choices by choosing to act in your own way. It's about doing things that might seem chaotic or strange to the people around you. It's about being you, and how other people seem to panic when people are real.
It's at this point that a bit of an underlying message begins to emerge. Muse are talking about doing what they want to do, and how other people can have a negative take on this. I actually really like this track, and have already danced a bit of salsa to it. Oh, and the robot, of course. Seriously, this whole album begs for the robot.
Now, "Prelude" is a strange one. It works similarly to the interval in "Absolution". It's a little taster of what might come in the future; "Unsustainable" in particular. The music is quite beautiful - relaxed but with a building tension, and then it vanishes much like it came.
We're left then with "Survival", a track within which are layers upon layers of vocals, acting as instruments to suit the piano, drums and bass. The main lyrics themselves also build in the same way. The lyrics are once again about competing; refusing to be beaten by anything, even with no other target in sight. Old Muse make a cameo in the chorus, a strong, guitar driven blast in which Bellamy really lets go with both his vocals and his guitar work. This is a driving, ambitious track that is difficult to take seriously upon first hearing, but soon takes hold of you as the beat of a war march.
A special shout out has to go to the brutal competing sections at the end of the track, in which the instruments literally do battle to the death. It's the sort of thing Death Metal guitarists would be blissfully proud of, and it's in a Muse song. The promised change in style, and input from many different genres was very obviously not a myth. Muse are extremely different in each and every track, making this album appealing to many different people in some parts and unappealing to those same people in others. There aren't many artists out there who dare to do such a project, and Muse's attempts to rejuvenate, alluded to in "Panic Station", "Supremacy" and "Survival", are clear in the music.
"Follow Me" starts with an odd sound, sampled from the heartbeat of Matt Bellamy's son before he was born. It's an obvious tribute to fatherhood, and something that Bellamy will be able to play for his son in later years. It's about protecting those you love, guiding them, and inspiring them to do as you did in life. Bellamy must be fairly happy nowadays. "New Born" and tracks of that ilk were violent, angry pieces of music, whereas this album is full of optimistic, major scale works. "Follow Me" could be played in any dance club, and perhaps that's the intention. It's a dance track, with another loud, sustained beat driving it.
That said, it plays out quite confusingly after talking about change, revolt and evolution that he would suggest that anybody follow anybody else, as this is the exact opposite of everything that Muse have always been about. It's interesting when you think about how Matt Bellamy might react when his son does begin his natural teenage rebellious phase and does exactly what Bellamy has always tried to do himself. Or maybe that's what should be followed. This one's actually a little deeper than it seems on the surface.
We move on then to "Animals". Capturing human nature is difficult to do in song, especially in something that starts off beat heavy and distinctly soft-rock. Muse use this song to compare the modern society-inspired man to the animalistic neanderthal of bygone ages. The comparison is actually quite a strong one, but the song is a bit too obviously structured and basis to truly echo the lyrics.
Once again, old Muse make a slight cameo with the later sections of this song. After returning to the theme about competition with lines such as "kill the competition" - a truly basic human instinct - their is a build, and then that collapses all too easily, before going right back to where it started. And then it really builds up, and we hear the sounds of angry voices. Could this one be inspired by the riots? Could it be something about just how advanced people thing they have gotten, but in truth, nothing really changes? There are lots of ideas, but it's a lovely blatant track, with not much hidden from plain view. I like that.
"Explorers" is almost like a lullaby; soothing and relaxing, and yet truly bipolar. While being calmed, you are told not to give in, and also told that "there's nothing left, for you or for me". "Explorers" certainly suggests that more can be found by those that truly look for it, and yet asks repeatedly to be freed from a mistake made. This is another one suggestive of the evolution of the band, and how it should be taken as an exploration of what they might become in the future, while also perhaps challenging the flippancy of modern society. To dispose of technology, food and friends is fairly commonplace in the digital age. "Explorers" never really picks it. It remains calming throughout and the idea of being released from some bondage is repeatedly constantly.
Likely the most rock song on the album after "Supremacy" is "Big Freeze", which, though sticking with the themes set out in the album, leans back an album in much the same way that Starlight was more suggestive of "Absolution". That said, it is once again contradictory with the rest of the album. It speaks of being beaten: "I lost before I started". Ultimately, the theme most obvious is that, once again, of being rescued by another person.
The idea of the big freeze is, at its most basic, to keep things as they were, and that's rather blatantly where the lyrics go. The lyrical echo returns in strength, and the guitar work is more reminiscent of artists such as All-American Rejects. It once again kicks in in the chorus, bringing in layered vocals and a strange sort of intimacy. Intimate is likely a good word to describe this one.
Chris Wolstenholme, primarily the bassist for Muse, has two tracks, one after the other, on this album. "Save Me" is the first, and once again continues the theme of being rescued, and two word sentences ending in 'me'. It's another somewhat laid back song, as if the artist in question had low expectations, but in the same way it's suggestive of a cry of desperation, or somebody who has given up already. Largely led by melodic guitar, "Save Me" offers little new, but helps to clarify the themes already presented. Wolstenholme's vocal contribution is, far from being just acceptable, perfectly suitable for the song, and a large part of the affect is that Bellamy isn't singing it. It helps to create a unity, and knit the album together. It's another lullaby; the calm before the storm, as it were. It's almost unobtrusive; asking for as little as possible.
The second of these tracks is the distinctly old Muse "Liquid State"; featuring a driving bassline, energy vocals about getting rather brutally tortured by the rigours of life and the people within it. The sad thing is that it doesn't really go anywhere. Neither "Save Me" or "Liquid State" really evolve towards anything, but rather make a statement and then abandon it. It's yet another song requesting a rescue.
It definitely makes me wonder why there's so much defiance, followed by so much defeatism on this album. Starting on such a high, "The 2nd Law" openly descends into darker matters as things go on, accepting that it is the purpose of life to challenge and, depending on where you are in the album, lose or win.
And this is where old Muse dies. For track 12, we are treating to a tense orchestral opening, reminiscent of the old symphonies; startling in both simplicity and beauty. A female voice confirms the details of The 2nd Law of thermodynamics for those that don't know, but does so in a stutter, constantly stopping and starting and repeating herself in order to keep time. It's distracting, and quite upsetting.
And then it goes into orchestral techno. "Unsustainable" is a look at how the world, the global economy and life in itself can not exist within change and evolution. This is actually a good way to say this, with so complete a change demonstrating that Muse are extremely different now from how they used to be. This is an ideal track for a dance or trance club, something that you could never say about Muse before. If this is the direction that Muse will be taking in the future, a lot of people will be switching off, but a lot of the themes suddenly make sense. The challenge has been put out there. They've considered both sides of victory and defeat and you are invited to make your choice and choose the next step. Their argument is equal parts compelling and divisive.
"Isolated System", a reference once again to "The 2nd Law", closes things out. This is a mention of that system which, within, things do not change. I reserve a special shout for a line that sounded suspiciously like "beef o'clock" and make me think I was about to hear a musical documentary on kebabs. "Isolated System" presents a mirror to the world. It drives the eye towards our own society and our own collapsing economy. It's a slow paced, rarely variant song filled with debates and voices. And it ends as it began, closing out an album that started with a bang by offering only a slow whimper. The idea, surely, is to make you think about it. // 6
Overall Impression: What to make of the album overall is difficult. Muse have certainly evolved, changing almost entirely from the rock outfit that made them one of the most popular bands in the world. Perhaps, in gaining age, they have simply mellowed. There are many potential reasons. The biggest question will be the reaction of the fans, and judging by many of the themes in this album, that's a question that Muse have chosen to raise themselves.
So what do you think? Personally, I find it hit and miss. "Panic Station" will go with me wherever I go, but I will be skipping both of the final tracks and the rest will depend on mood. In the same way that Dethklok once made an album for fish, Muse have put together a piece of art for all the robots out there. In an increasingly AI driven world, where the built-in brains of a computer game are smarter than any human, that's quite a clever move if you ask me. // 7
The 2nd Law
Bozjoarmstrong, on september 28, 2012 11 of 25 people found this review helpful
Sound: It has been just over 3 years since the release of "The Resistance", Muse's largely disappointing 5th studio album. This highly anticipated follow-up is much the same, destined to divide opinion, alienate some fans, and convert others.
"The 2nd Law" is equal to "The Resistance" in that it is bombastic, pretentious and self-indulgent. Sometimes, this pays off; album opener "Supremacy" is about as good as any Muse fan, old or new, could actually have hoped for. Yes, it's got strings and synth, but it also has a riff reminiscent of the jams from HAARP and an outro guaranteed to inspire moshpit madness. Ironically enough, "Madness", the lead single, is a low point. Matt Bellamy described this song as one of his favourites here due to its "minimalistic" nature. Bellamy is clearly forgetting, then, the last couple of minutes of the song; as desperate and cheesy as the worst synth-pop ballad. This, to me, sounds like a poor re-working of the far superior "Endlessly" from 2003's "Absolution".
"Panic Station" is possibly the best song on offer here. Chris Wolstenholme tips his cap to John Deacon with a great bassline that is the focal point of a funk-rock stomper that will inevitably draw comparisons to "Supermassive Black Hole". This sounds like a band having fun, something we have not necessarily heard from Muse in a while.
"Follow Me" is another of the album's most interesting tracks. Highly pretentious, but undeniably intriguing, it begins with the heartbeat of Bellamy's baby, Bing. This builds to a bass-driven dub-rock chorus, reminiscent of old Muse - another album highlight.
"Animals" also has a unique sound, an odd tempo and a great breakdown over riot noises at the end, whilst "Liquid State" benefits from Bellamy dusting off his drive pedal for an aggressive, straight-up rock song.
Whilst those are the highlights, "Explorers" and "Big Freeze" are little more than filler, whilst the song that shocked Muse fans everywhere, "Unsustainable" is certainly not a grower. Its classical intro is promising, but uneasily fuses with dubstep for a unpleasant mess of a song. "Isolated System", the final song and second phase of "The 2nd Law", is musically great, (it is hard to deny Matt Bellamy's talents as a composer) but ultimately dull.
This leaves "The 2nd Law" as a mixed bag - an album with highlights and lowlights, but without direction or a strong concept. This is not so much an album as a collection of pretentious, genre-spanning musical experiments. // 5
Lyrics: The lyrics on this album also vary drastically. One can't help but ask if songs such as "Madness", "Follow Me" and "Save Me" really have any place on an album named after the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics? "Madness" is indeed one of the worst songs here due to its bog-standard love song lyrics. "Follow Me" isn't quite as bad, but is an obvious ballad to Bellamy's newborn son, not a song you'd expect to find on the same album as "Unsustainable", that is if we are even generous enough to describe unsustainable as a song; the lyrics are nothing more than rambling jargon, spoken by a female "newsreader". I hate to break it to Muse, but it is not interesting. The worst by far has to be "Survival", the woeful, thinly-veiled Olympic ballad. It is amongst the worst songs Bellamy has ever penned.
On a positive note, Chris Wolstenholme takes to the mic on "Save Me" and "Liquid State". On the former, his vocals are superb until they are overpowered by electronic effects, whilst on the latter his voice lends the song a feel of menace and aggression far better than Bellamy's could. // 3
Overall Impression: "The 2nd Law" is another jumbled, poorly-thought out Muse effort, hell-bent on experimentation above sound. Whilst the sublime skills of each band member remain intact, they are all too often overshadowed by the electronics and frequently awful lyrics. The 3 songs that preceded the album, are strangely enough the worst, and they heavily weigh down more impressive efforts such as "Panic Station" and "Liquid State".
Whilst a load of hardcore Muse fans will fight to the death to defend their idols' latest work, this fan will not. "The Resistance" was poor and "The 2nd Law" is much the same. Muse will always be a band that spark interest and excitement, but ultimately, they have not released a great album for 6 years. // 5
The 2nd Law
Ndanny, on september 28, 2012 6 of 11 people found this review helpful
Sound: What a shift in sound. This is sure to turn supposed fans into haters as I honestly don't think a band's sound has changed as much as Muse's has in their latest release as here they dabble with electro-pop, choirs, soul/funk elements and late 60s/70s guitar riffing. As much a fan of Muse I am, I'm going to have to say this album is not as consistent as would have been acceptable with most people as one minute you're listening to the bone-crunching riffing of "Supremacy" and the next you're faced with Muse's rendition of electro-pop in the form of "M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-Madness". The first half of this album really has no flow as the sound then cuts to that of an 80's funk in the form of "Panic Station", which personally I thought is a standout song and it's bound to be a radio hit thanks to the strong beat made by Chris Wolstenholme's thunderous slap bass technique. The direction of this album changes again with a delve into symphonic metal in Olympic single "Survival", which is on its own, an epic masterpiece. But once again the album's direction cuts to an electro-pop number, which I really don't understand as Matt Bellamy has too much musical skill to degrade himself to such low depths. Moving on to "Animals" and here Matt shows off his Spanish guitar skills in an atmospheric alt rock delve. "Big Freeze" sounds like your standard Muse soft song that could be home in any of their previous albums, but this is then followed by "Save Me" and "Liquid State", which are different from any other Muse song really as Matt's vocalist position is taken over by bassist Chris and these songs fit the flow and mood that started with Animals. And then, the all-polarising Classical-cum-dubstep (Classistep?) track "Unsustainable". Personally a favourite of mine. Really impressed with the violin riffing and use of haunting choirs mixed with the apocalyptic use of the robotic voice and Kaoss Pad installed on Matt's guitar to make the infamous wub-wub sounds. Very atmospheric, and leading into the final cut, "Isolated System" which is another haunting composition to complete the album. // 7
Lyrics: Despite going back to the whole 'relationships' theme, the lyrics are mature, just like any of their most recent albums, with a really self-reflecting mood. In Chris' two songs he discusses his struggle with alcoholism and he proves himself to be a very capable singer, able to create a mood where the listener just wants to root for him all the way home. Matt Bellamy opts for a further delve into opera-esque singing and with the electro-pop numbers he adopts the standard style you hear on your radio, which personally I feel is tasteless, and Matt only saves Muse's blushes by having such a strong voice that really can't be criticised. Falsetto use once again is done with superb delivery as heard in "Supremacy" and "Survival". The spoken word style used in Unsustainable is effective in getting Matt's viewpoint of our energy usage across to listeners, explicitly warning them that their current usage of energy is 'unsustainable' and it really shows what mature and important music Muse makes, contrary to some of the closed-minded 'fans' that rip on them whenever they stray from pure rock. // 9
Overall Impression: Not their best effort to date, but a fairly solid one with the climax leaving you with a mix of emotions (awe, hauntedness, emptiness) and so definitely a huge shift in direction. Still some extremely sexy uses of the falsetto vocal range, and sick riffing, but they've been pushed into the background for an exploration of soul and electronica conventions that don't directly sound like the Muse everyone knows. When it is released in CD I will go purchase it as I think it is a worthy album, if only for the superb tracks, "Panic Station", "Unsustainable", "Isolated System", "Survival", "Supremacy" and for my support of musical innovation. // 8
The 2nd Law
UG Team, on october 08, 2012 4 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: In 1992, Matt Bellamy successfully joined Dominic Howard's band, Gothic Plague, which eventually moved from covers to original songs and changed their name first to Fixed Penalty, then Rocket Baby Dolls and then finally to Muse. By 1994 their lineup was cemented as they became Muse with Matt Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme. Muse was inspired by a victory in a battle of the bands competition in 1994 to quit school and their day jobs, and at this time also first changed their name to Muse. They released their first EP, "Muse" EP, in 1998 and since that time have slowly gained more and more fans and fame. They have set themselves apart by their unique blend of space rock, progressive rock, electronica and Matt Bellamy's unique vocals.
"The 2nd Law" has incorporated dubstep elements into Muse's music, which seems to be becoming more popular recently. I don't know how I feel about it, as I personally do like dubstep but I'm not sure how I like it mixed with my rock. While using elements of dubstep on the album, Muse hasn't given over their sound completely to dubstep as Korn did on their last release, but used it much more selectively. After several listens there are a few songs that really seem to shine and others that I feel more lukewarm about. At the end of the day, I don't feel negative about the album but I can't say that it is my favorite Muse release either. There is some undefinable quality missing from some of the songs on the album, though I can't pinpoint what it is. The guitar work is good, and the mixing is exceptional. It seems the music is generally more upbeat than I am used to hearing from Muse. I especially like the guitar work from the song "Big Freeze". // 8
Lyrics: Matt Bellamy has always been good at using vocal dynamics to good effect, and he continues to do so on "The 2nd Law". Matt's voice is very expressive and he manages to get across the wide range of emotion expressed in the songs on the album. His actual vocal performance is stellar nobody can question his skill as a vocalist. Chris Wolstenholme wrote the songs "Liquid State" and "Save Me" and provided vocals on those songs as well. He does a good job seeing as acting as a vocalist isn't his primary vocation. Overall, I was very happy with the vocal performance on the album.
The first single from the album was "Survival", which was also the official song of the 2012 London Summer Olympics. The lyrics from the song follow: "Race/ life is a race/ but I'm gonna win/ yes, I'm gonna win/ and I'll light the fuse/ and I'll never lose/ and I choose to survive/ whatever it takes/ you won't pull ahead/ I'll keep up the pace/ and I'll reveal my strength/ to the whole human race/ yes, I am prepared/ to stay alive/ I won't forgive/ vengeance is mine/ and I won't give in/ because I choose to fight/ yeah, we're gonna win/ race/ it's a race/ but I'm gonna win/ ye, I'm gonna win/ and I'll light the fuse/ and I'll never lose/ and I choose to survive/ whatever it takes/ you won't pull ahead/ I'll keep up the pace/ and I'll reveal my strength/ to the whole human race/ yes, I'm gonna win/ yes, I'm gonna win". The lyrics aren't bad, but they kind of sound like they were specifically written for the Olympics. // 8
Overall Impression: My absolute favorite song on the album is "Supremacy" no other song on the album even comes close. My least favorite song on the album is "Save Me" it isn't necessarily a bad song, but I didn't feel any kind of emotional connection to the song. From their previous releases, "The 2nd Law" is definitely a step apart as far as sound goes, and not just because of the added element of dubstep. The album also has much more in the way of a synth pop sound in places and the overall composition is more extravagant. Some fans may be shaken a little bit by this change, but I think I like the album fairly well. It isn't my favorite album by Muse but it seems to absolutely be growing on me. If you are one of those people who like to pick off and only purchase the best songs from the album, then I would personally suggest "Supremacy", "Survival", "Liquid State" and if you are a fan of dubstep then you might want to check out "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable". The album continues to grow on me as I listen, and I am really beginning to enjoy the album as a whole. // 8
The 2nd Law
unregistered, on october 09, 2012 2 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: Muse's 2012 release "The 2nd Law" is a funk filled and glitzy wale hearkening the end of the world that begins with a thunderous clap and ultimately sizzles out. Thematically, this album could be considered a sequel to the long line of dystopian-centric albums that Muse has put out since "Absolution". What separates it from predecessors is it's refusal to put out a straight guitar driven, rock track. The best songs on "The 2nd Law" echo Queen, David Bowie, and Prince, and at the worst, Nickelback and Creed. While Bellamy's taste is debatable, his talent for composition never falters throughout the tracks. Overall, Muse's sound in "The 2nd Law" is one of pure joy. Gone are the brooding days of "Origin Of Symmetry" and "Absolution". More clearly on this than in any album before, Muse seem to be having fun. // 7
Lyrics: Lyrics are arguably Muse's weakest selling point. While "Absolution" through "Resistance" presented a serious Bellamy that was concerned with the course of the world, "The 2nd Law" merely revels in the funk of the future. "The 2nd Law" is by no means a poorly written album, it's either a fun, or cheesy album depending on listeners outlook. // 5
Overall Impression: 01. "Supremacy": A bond-esque romp that hearkens back to "Origin Of Symmetry" days with a completely bad a-s riff. A great set up for the rest of the album.
02. "Madness": A complete departure from the previous Muse sound that pays off much more than "Undisclosed Desires" did on the last album.
03. "Panic Station": An incredibly fun Prince-esque track that has the funkiest bass sound on a high profile release this year.
04. "Survival": Much like "Supremacy", a loud and abrasive, glamour rock stomp fraught with echoes of Queen.
05. "Follow Me": A dance track that seems to come out of nowhere, breaking the streak of rock anthems. Bellamy's inclusion of his child's heartbeat is laughable alongside his cheesy crooning in the intro.
06. "Animals": The last great song on the album, has an addicting flamenco solo overlaying a fast paced alt-rock song. Ends with the sounds of rioting
07. "Explorers": A mediocre song that refuses to become interesting at any point in its existence. Forgettable.
08. "Big Freeze": Another mediocre song that at least has the decency to be vaguely catchy and upbeat
09-10. "Save Me"/"Liquid State": I grouped these together because they comprise bassist Chris Wolstenhome's solo vocal contributions to the album. To be honest there is almost nothing interesting about these tracks. They play like generic, 90s grunge without any major selling point. Chris's voice is decent, but lacks the poignant sharpness the makes Bellamy's great.
11-12. "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable"/"Isolated": Laughable tracks that offer glimpses of greatness. The inclusion of dubstep into a rock/pop album is admirable but in this case the end result falls completely flat. An unfortunate downer that comes as a surprise after the great symphony at the end of "The Resistance". // 8
The 2nd Law
jackrayment, on october 11, 2012 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: This album was a shock to me as a whole, neither of the singles interested me at first, madness grew on me and has turned from a dull song to a great song, survival at first I thought was ok, but too cheesy then when I listened to it properly and heard all the harmonies and the choir and the falsettos and everything mixing together now it musically rivals other greats by much like "Exogenesis" and "Citizens Erased" simply because musically it is a work of art. Supremacy is one of Muse's greatest album openers if not the best, definitely up their with new born and take a bow, its Led Zeppelin influenced heavy rock that gives you reminders of "Origin Of Symmetry" and "Absolution" with heavy 7 string riffs, that lead into soft marching drums into double time solo all with immensely powerful Matthew Bellamy signature falsettos that nobody can replicate. The next song is panic station, which is such an over the top song when I first hear it I thought this could be the best or the worst song on the album simply because it is so over the top and un Musey it could be too much, but it has turned out as one of my new favourites, just because of its funky upbeat catchy nature, slap bass mixed with Stevie Wonder style licks make this song epic! Prelude is a symphonic build up to the masterpiece that is survival, not much more to say.
Follow me is this slow song at the start that you think may be one of the more subtle songs, then it kicks in and the chorus, OMG the chorus on this song is so amazing haha powerful catchy love this. "Animals", one of the best songs on the album no doubt, changing between a 5/4 to 6/4 to 4/4 time signature constantly, this is another throwback to "Origin", maybe "Screenager"? Epic solos in the middle, purely an outstanding song. "Explorers" is lovely comedown from the hype at the end of animals, a lullaby if you like, another one of the better songs on the album, this build up and layering and texture all adds up to a beautiful song. "Big Freeze" is a U2 inspired song, starts with a Map of the problematique style guitar effect awesome chord changes in this song, and an epic solo, catchy chorus too. "Save Me" is the first of two songs that Chris Wolstenholme wrote for this album, Matt said he chose it because it is so different to anything they have done before, and it is, soft, not building much just a nice chill song, almost acoustic, and Chris' voice is surprisingly soft which adds to the effect. "Liquid State", now this is more like what we would expect from Chris, sounds like some of his Helsinki jam riffs all mixed in, at first I didn't like this, it didn't seem to have a catchy riff, but then you listen and know when its happening as with most songs this grows on you, Chris's better song I think, heavy another 7 string song, almost metal by Muse's standards.
"The 2nd Law: Unsustainable", this song has such a movie like intro with a raw anti dubstep section which then mixes with the strings and Matt's amazing vocals to make an amazing song. The best part is all of the guitar was recorded real time and he only used a whammy pedal to make these effects which would usually take a spotty teenager and a mac to do which I respect, also will be amazing live. And finally "Isolated System", this song is probably my least favourite, isn't bad at all, just with a lack of vocals, it is slow and doesn't go anywhere, compared to "Exogenesis" at the end of "The Resistance" and "Knights Of Cydonia" before that this is a bit of a let down, still a great listen though. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics on this album are way way more personal than muse have ever gone before, telling stories of fights and troubles in relationships love, only similar to that of a few on "Showbiz", still with some political songs like "Animals" and "Supremacy" deep meanings and tell a story as always, Matt's voice has never been better, he hits his highest chest note in madness at the end and one of his highest falsetto notes at the end of survival. Chris' songs are about his trouble with alcoholism and have deep meaning and are sung appropriately as always though Muse have a tendency to use their voice as an instrument instead of a way to tell lyrics, not necessarily a bad thing because of Matt's amazing voice just you can't take in as much from the lyrics. // 9
Overall Impression: Definite buy I'd say, got to number one in no time, I personally bought the box set which has a thermal reactive lid. If I lost this I would buy another one simply because it is on the whole my favourite Muse album. For heavy stuff it would be "Origin" and for rockier stuff it would be "Absolution" but all round this has the best vocal performance, most developed lyrics, most musically advanced songs, and most diverse range of songs, you won't get bored because each song is so different from any other on the album. I thought this album would suck but it has turned out way above all possible expectations, muse have once again pushed it to the limits and pulled it off, hardly anything I would change, I just love this 80's style Queeny U2ey funky heavy metally Zeppeliney mish mash of everything you could ever want from an album. // 10
The 2nd Law
Kwyjibo2006, on september 28, 2012 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: British rock trio Muse have had a busy last three years. After the release of "The Resistance", the band embarked on a world tour, celebrated the tenth anniversary of their highly acclaimed album "Origin Of Symmetry" and penned the official song of the London 2012 Olympics. Many events occurred to the band members as well: bassist Chris Wolstenholme entered rehab to treat his alcoholism while singer/guitarist Matt Bellamy celebrated the birth of his first child. These personal changes, along with the Muse's launch into the rock stratosphere, have come to a head on the band's latest and highly anticipated album, "The 2nd Law".
The album begins with the marching drum beat of "Supremacy" before launching into a chugging 7-string riff from Bellamy. The track is littered with strings throughout that complement Bellamy's vocals (on top form as usual) nicely. There's also some very melodic guitar work during the song's middle section. The most progressive track on the album, "Supremacy" is, if anything, an interesting opening track.
Next up is lead single "Madness". The track's R&B-style electronic beat is reminiscent of "Undisclosed Desires" off the band's previous album. Though the track will seem bland to fans of Muse's older work, the final chorus wraps up the track beautifully. "Panic Station" comes next, completely out of left field. The song contains what is easily Wolstenholme's catchiest bass-line since 2003's "Hysteria", in a track that sounds straight out of the 1980s. While the track truly is random, it's probably the catchiest on the album, and includes some great drumming from Dom Howard.
"Survival", released as the official song of the 2012 Olympics, begins with a nice melodic orchestral prelude, before building into a hilariously bombastic, over the top track with a fantastically heavy 7-string riff and some shred guitar from Bellamy. It's strange, then, that the band chooses "Follow Me" as the next track. Not the slower, mellower song we may have expected, the track begins with a recording of Bellamy's child's (then in utero) heartbeat before turning into a completely electronic track. Fans of techno music will enjoy "Follow Me", but it will leave quite a few people scratching their heads.
The second half of the album begins with "Animals", a fast, mellow track with some nice interaction between bass and guitar. "Explorers" follows this quieter vain, and features some lovely strings and nice piano work from Bellamy. Unfortunately, the chorus is almost too similar to "Invincible" off of their 2006 effort "Black Holes And Revelations" to ignore. Thankfully, "Big Freeze" returns the band to rock territory. The song uses a clear U2 influence, as well as a touch of Queen in the backup vocals, to create a fun, enjoyable track.
The next two tracks, "Save Me" and "Liquid State", are penned by bassist Chris Wolstenholme. "Save Me" begins with a lovely ambient sound before the drums kick in about two minutes in. The song has a very mellow, spacey feel to it, and is easily one of the prettiest tracks on the album. "Liquid State" almost sounds like a B-side from "The Resistance" that features a very bouncy, dark chorus. While the track is more "traditional Muse" than "Save Me", it's still a welcome addition to the band's catalogue.
Finally, the title track(s) "Unsustainable" and "Isolated System" close out the album. "Unsustainable", the infamous "Muse-step" track, tries to recreate the band's high-energy live jams, but on the album it doesn't quite hit the mark, despite the song's fantastic bridge courtesy of Dom Howard's grooving drum-beat. "Isolated System" evolves off a soft piano arpeggio and features more of the "financial disaster news" as "Unsustainable". While it might be a tad underwhelming to some, "Isolated System" is a calm, atmospheric instrumental track that serves as a nice, calming close to "The 2nd Law". // 7
Lyrics: After exploring various apocalyptic topics on their last three albums, Muse uses "The 2nd Law" to write about relationships and personal issues, which perfectly compliments the less bombastic sound of their new album. Lead single "Madness" was written following singer Matt Bellamy having a fight with his girlfriend, while "Save Me" and "Liquid State", both sung by Chris Wolstenholme, deal with the bassist's struggles with alcoholism. Singing of more personal issues helps give the album a more intimate feel than previous efforts, and makes the songs more relatable for many fans.
As to the singing itself, Muse haven't sounded this good in a while. Matt Bellamy's falsetto makes a triumphant return on "The 2nd Law", particularly on "Supremacy" and "Survival" (with some of the most gloriously cheesy vocals in recent memory), while "Madness" and "Big Freeze" contain some of his most powerful performances in years. Wolstenholme also proves that he's one hell of a vocalist on "Save Me", creating an incredible atmosphere with his soft but strong voice. One can only hope he gets more chances to do lead vocals in the future.
Overall, while the lyrical content may now be more "typical" of mainstream music, the quality of Matt Bellamy and Chris Wolstenholme's voices are in top form, making the singing on "The 2nd Law" anything but stale. // 8
Overall Impression: Without a doubt, "The 2nd Law" is the band's most quiet, personal album to date. And not without its flaws. While the band's willingness to explore different styles is commendable, the album lacks any sense of flow until well past the halfway mark, making the transitions on "The 2nd Law" feel disjointed, if not occasionally jarring. Fans expecting the return of 2001-era Muse will find a few songs on the album to enjoy. It's harder to tell, however, how the newer fans of the band will react. As musicians, the band have never sounded or played better, but the eclectic music styles on the album will leave many fans divided.
"The 2nd Law" is not a bad album, just a slightly underwhelming one. At times beautiful, at times schizophrenic, it's the sound of a band struggling to decide where to go as their career enters its middle stage. What Muse do now is truly anyone's guess.
Save Me // 7
The 2nd Law
kevin.keen, on november 19, 2012 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Good:
- Dubstep-influenced songs are interesting with standard band equipment ("Follow Me", is probably the best Dubstep-Rock crossover).
- Use of orchestra still works for the band.
- A lot of Muse ballads, which are beautiful pieces of music.
- Catchy songs like "Survival", "Madness" get stuck easily in the head.
- Dubstep. Is this a cry for attention? Every artist is entitled to experiment, but maybe this was too much. That being said, this album might alienate old fans.
- A few too many ballads ("Follow Me", "Explorers", "Madness", "Save Me". That's four ballads out of thirteen songs). We want something that explodes like "Stockholm Syndrome" or "Knights Of Cydonia". No song particularly does that, even though there are several intended to ("Supremacy", "Survival", "Panic Station").
- Two tracks devoted to news-like speaking ("The 2nd Law"). Why the hell are these here?
- MIDI pad added to the bass guitar, making it a double neck to create the dubstep wubs. Interesting.
- Typical Muse sound with wubs in it. No interesting techniques or solos or any new guitar vibes. A little bit underachieving compared to most Muse songs. // 7
Lyrics: The Good:
- Lyrics are well written, easy to follow. Typical of Muse. Definitely geared towards the love song crowd.
- Bellamy's singing ability has not fallen off the map at all. Still hits falsetto notes like Freddie Mercury (although Mercury definitely had more flare).
- Couple of songs about current financial issues and world issues ("The 2nd Law", "Animals", "Explorers") add interest in lyrical world.
- Best Lyrics On The Album: "Panic Station".
- Why is Chris Wolstenholme singing on "Save Me" and "Liquid State"? You can't replace Bellamy. It just won't do.
- Lyrical monotony: The lyrics seem like they are geared to younger fans. Quite boring compared to other lyrics that Muse has produced.
- Vocals are largely unmemorable. // 6
Overall Impression: The Good:
- Solid Muse tracks in "Survival", "Panic Station", even dubstep tracks "Madness", "Survival".
- Bellamy's singing is on par with previous albums. Expect nothing but great falsetto
- A dubstep inspired album is the band falling for a fad like the Kiss Disco Album. It's okay, but not fantastic.
- Why is Chris Wolstenholme singing?
Largely unmemorable album with solid band backing. Not much innovation in terms of music. Typical Muse album. Nothing unusual except the dubstep.
Listen for the singles you want and buy those. The album is nothing to be fanatical about if you're an old fan or if you're a new fan or even a dubstep fan. // 7
The 2nd Law
Tombe, on january 25, 2013 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: This is the review of a frustrated Muse fan, one who thinks that since Absolution they have disappeared a long way up their own backsides. Obviously their live shows, which make Pink Floyd look like a pub band, remain unmatched but in my opinion the material hasn't been there to back them up.
However, when you have a band fronted by one of the last true British eccentrics in the form of Matt Bellamy you can never really guess what they're going to do next. And what they've done next, to follow the underwhelming "The Resistance", seems to be to completely stop taking themselves seriously and turn the 'Bombastic' control up to 11.
It's been a long time since I've heard an album with such a strong opening handful of tracks. Supremacy sounds like a long-lost collaboration between The White Stripes and John Williams trying to create a Bond theme, beginning with a huge, lumbering leviathan of a drop-tuned guitar riff that could level buildings, before encompassing choirs, strings, a melancholy trumpet solo, classic Bellamy guitar histrionics and cod-operatic vocals. Presumably the kitchen sink was unavailable for session work. It's followed by the beautiful slow electro-jam of "Madness", which strains against its leash for two verses and choruses and a guitar solo before gloriously blooming into life. Then there's the unashamed disco-rock of "Panic Station", complete with gratuitous slap bass and horns, before you reach "Survival", which was of course written for the 2012 Olympics. Taken out of that context and placed in the album, though, it's much less cheesy than I originally thought and makes perfect sense. It's a marvelous track which slowly builds in momentum, peaking in an extended instrumental section in which Matt Bellamy reminds us that he really is one of the best guitarists around at the moment, alternating between upper-fret histrionics and bruising riffs.
After this unbeatable opening salvo, the album really calms down quite a lot and also becomes their most varied to date. There's the much-vaunted electro direction rearing its head a few times, unusually straightforward Smiths-esque guitar pop and "Liquid State", an alt-rocker that could have easily slotted into one of the band's earlier albums. Matt Bellamy's guitar alternates between the usual Fuzz Factory-mangled chaos and gorgeous post-rock atmospherics on the likes of "Save Me", whilst the ever-reliable engine room of bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dom Howard hold the album together underneath Bellamy's many and varied sonic explorations.
Then, we come to the 'dubstep bit' that people made such a fuss about. The Resistance ended with a 3-part orchestral suite and The 2nd Law ends with something marginally less pretentious, but only just. It's actually nothing that radical, and takes the form of a two-part track called The 2nd Law. Part 1, Unsustainable, is a chaotic electro collage of dramatic strings, spoken-word samples concerning the 2nd law of thermodynamics (why not? ) and Digitech Whammy-mutated guitars. It's like listening to the end of the world, which is exactly what the band wanted, and closing track 'Isolated System' is a sparse, ghostly piano-led instrumental, slowly drawing the album to a close. // 8
Lyrics: Matt Bellamy is not a frontman renowned for shyness or restraint, and "The 2nd Law" contains some of his most over-the-top vocal performances to date. In opening track Supremacy he wails like a drunken opera singer, and "Survival" sees him transforming into a sort of West Country Nick Cave. The lyrics to the latter may be appallingly cheesy, but they're delivered with such conviction that you can't help but love it. This, coupled with a choir turning up on several tracks and Bellamy's voice being mutated by distortion and echo on the likes of "Panic Station", means that vocally there's never a dull moment on this album.
Lyrically, the album has been mooted as a concept album concerning how humanity is doomed to die out as it rapidly outstrips its own resources (don't forget that Bellamy is a proper tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy nutter) and the likes of "Supremacy" and "Panic Station", as well as the snippets of dialogue heard on the title track, attest to this. But "Madness", a tale of trying to save a doomed relationship, is one of the most personal songs that Muse have ever put their name to - Bellamy singing the line "I have finally seen the end" as the whole band kicks in at full force is one of the album's most poignant moments.
There is a bit of a letdown, however, in the form of two tracks where Chris Wolstenholme decides to take over vocal duties and rattle on about his alcoholism. There's nothing wrong with this - he's a perfectly competent singer and his backing vocals have enriched Muse's music since the beginning, but letting him sing lead in a band featuring Matt Bellamy seems a bit like asking Jimi Hendrix to just strum out a few chords on an acoustic while someone else takes care of the guitar solo. // 7
Overall Impression: To be honest, there's not a lot to say here that I haven't already said. Yes, the whole album is ridiculously over-the-top, but it doesn't matter because it works so well. Firstly, criticising Muse for being over-the-top is a bit like the time when I walked out of a Tindersticks gig at a festival because it was too depressing. Of course it bloody was. Secondly, they remain one of the most fearlessly experimental and progressive bands we have left today and "The 2nd Law" sees them pushing their boundaries significantly further than before. Upon hearing the first few tracks off this album, the temptation is to slap them round the face and ask them what the bloody hell they were thinking. Here's to their bloody-minded ambitiousness, and their best album since "Absolution" by a country mile. // 8
The 2nd Law
GTorrigiani, on october 08, 2012 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Three years later their last effort, "The Resistance", Muse come out with maybe their most anticipated album, as they had expanded a lot their fanbase (this affected the whole album alot). The first thing that comes to your mind (or your ears, or your temporal lobes... as you want) is that the album is very diverse, you get to listen to what some of us like to call "good ol' Muse" in "Supremacy", "Big Freeze" and "Liquid State" but also to their attempt of innovation, which you gotta appreciate as it isn't easy when you are composing your sixth or seventh album.
Muse attempt to innovate their own sounds in two different ways: looking at the past and at the future, but always putting their own touch in it. "Panic Station is clearly a reference to 70/80's funk in its Stevie Wonder-ish groove, same goes with the obvious Queen reference in "Survival". "Follow Me", "Madness" and "Unsustainable" obviously look at the future, as they are both strongly influenced by electro/techno.
"Explorers" sounds like an "Absolution"'s style ballad while "Animals" is an undefinable song, I really find difficult to correlate it to any of their previous works, maybe it's because of that I like it so much. I only left out "Save Me" by purpose, why? Because it left me nothing, I easily find it the weak song in the CD, it doesn't stand out, either in good or bad, it's just filler. // 7
Lyrics: Apocalyptic scenarios reign again in Muse's last effort much like they did in "Black Holes And Revelations", with some exceptions ("Follow Me" being clearly referred to Matt's son's future). Muse have really never stood up for their lyrics and they still don't in "The 2nd Law", but Matt's singing has always fill that blank and still strongly does. His gorgeous falsetto in Supremacy is maybe the highlight of the whole album, same goes for "Panic Station".
The innovation for the vocals was Chris' leading in two tracks ("Save Me" and "Liquid State") which disappointed me a bit; I recently heard him singing in "Hyper Music" chorus at Reading Festival and it blew my mind, it put my stakes too high, he lets down a strong track like "Liquid State" with his vocal which sound boring to me. I think it wasn't really a good idea as in comparison with Matt's mindblowing skills it really feels mediocre. // 6
Overall Impression: This album is certainly a grower, I remember listening to it the first time and wishing I'd never bought it, then I gave it another chance and I wasn't disappointed at all. I blame the fact that it starts with a boom ("Supremacy", easily the best and the hardest track in the album), but it ends on a low note with "Save Me" and "Liquid State", which can't compare to the starting track (I don't consider "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable"/"Isolated System" part as the album as a whole, it's like they are an expansion to it.
As you could have noted in the entire review I really didn't like Wolstenholme's songs, which I consider the weakness of the album. "Supremacy", "Panic Station" and "Big Freeze" stand out as the most impressive tracks each one for its own reason (I find it strange that none of them was used as a single) and other tracks are some kind of filler (some more, some less). As a whole I found "The 2nd Law" a semi-disappointment, because it features some of Muse's highest heights but some of their lowest deeps. // 7
The 2nd Law
unregistered, on november 06, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Muse originally started as a Radiohead-esque alternative rock band and have since grown into one of the biggest stadium rock bands of recent years (not of all time, though). After a lackluster fifth album - "The Resistance" - the Devon trio's sixth attempt, weirdly entitled "The 2nd Law" is a drastic change in sound for the band. However, things do begin a little familiarly, with "Supremacy", a stadium-filler song with more than just a little debt to "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin. With a big riff, epic strings and a stunning climax, Muse fans will settle right in to "The 2nd Law" with this song. But with the lead single "Madness" up next, the listener is almost thrown into the deep end of the band's experimentation. With no guitar, minus the Brian May aping solo in the bridge, the song is driven by electronic instruments and a basic beat.
Upon first listen, the results aren't good, but "Madness" is definitely grower. Other highlights include "Panic Station", "Animals" and "Follow Me", the latter pulling dubstep off successfully, unlike the first part of the album's epic closer, "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable", which has a promising beginning, but ends up a confusing mess by the end. The only problem I have with the sound of the album is that an artist or influence can be tied directly to every song, for example, Led Zeppelin with "Supremacy", U2 with "Big Freeze", Queen with "Survival" and "Explorers", Queens Of The Stone Age with "Animals" and "Liquid State". The list goes on and on, and unfortunately there are only a few flashes of originality in "The 2nd Law". But when copying sounds as good as this, I'm not complaining a huge deal. // 8
Lyrics: Matt Bellamy's lyrics have never been his strong point, and with "The 2nd Law", there is only the occasional exception. They go from "not half bad" (see: "Animals") to "f--king atrocious". Case in point, "Survival", the over-the-top, Queen-esque, popcorn song of the Summer written for the 2012 London Olympics. "It's a race, it's a race, I'm gonna win, yes I'm gonna win" sings Bellamy, and you can't help but feel he could've tried a little harder. But then again, it is for the Olympics, and the way he so passionately delivers those terrible lyrics does make you overlook how bad they are.
In fact, Bellamy's vocal delivery on a lot of songs is sometimes the highlight: "Panic Station" is filled with so much breathless, pelvis-thrusting effort that Prince would be proud. Of course, Bellamy is known for voice, mixing deep vibrato with screaming falsetto with ease, and "The 2nd Law" is no different. But the big change is bassist Chris Wolstenholme writing and singing two songs: "Save Me" (a typical Muse ballad) and "Liquid State" (rockiest song on the album). Weirdly, these are the highlights lyrically, and shows what talent Wolstenholme has, and also raises the question if his talents will be put to use again. // 7
Overall Impression: Here's a track by track guide to "The 2nd Law":
"Supremacy": big 7-string riff, thumping drums, epic string, check, check and check, another classic Muse song.
"Madness": a grower, and better live, this shows Muse's experimentation at a peak.
"Panic Station": a personal, funky favourite. Mixing Talking Heads, some David Bowie and 80s Queen, this song is one of the more successful experiments on the album
"Prelude": a simple, orchestra-and-piano, um, prelude to the main course that is...
"Survival": much has been made of the official Olympics anthem, and I like it just for it's sheer ludicrousness.
"Follow Me": featuring Bellamy's recently born son's heartbeat, this song feels like a remix of just a plain Muse song, and is a "marmite"-type of song.
"Animals": featuring initially calm and quiet electric piano, bass, drums, and flamenco-esque guitar, who all tumble each over in an interesting 5/4 time signature, this song suddenly explodes into a strong riff and what sounds like a Wall Street Riot in the background.
"Explorers": a slow one that sounds just a little too much like "Don't Stop Me Now" for my liking.
"Big Freeze": this sounds like U2 doing a cover of "Map Of The Problematique", a Muse song that is great, unlike this one.
"Save Me": the first of two Wolstenholme-headed songs. A typical Muse ballad, it possibly goes on for a bit too long.
"Liquid State": kicking things back into gear, distorted bass and guitars clash as Wolstenholme spits about his troubling alcoholism.
"The 2nd Law: Unsustainable": oh dear. Another rock band has tried "going dubstep" and it hasn't worked, despite the promising beginning.
"The 2nd Law: Isolated System": a beautiful track to end on, as twinkling piano says goodbye to "The 2nd Law".
All in all, a mixed bag for Muse. While undoubtedly better than "The Resistance" and the band's debut, "Showbiz", it struggles to trouble the better, although not bigger, albums of Muse's career ("Origin Of Symmetry", "Absolution", "Black Holes & Revelations").
Top five highlights (in no order): "Supremacy", "Panic Station", "Survival", "Follow Me", "Animals". // 7