The 2nd Law review by Muse

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  • Released: Sep 28, 2012
  • Sound: 5
  • Lyrics: 3
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 4.3 Poor
  • Users' score: 7.4 (417 votes)
Muse: The 2nd Law
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Sound — 5
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.

Lyrics — 3
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.

Overall Impression — 5
"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.

111 comments sorted by best / new / date

    third(-)eye
    Wow, what the hell happened to you in your childhood to make you act like this?..
    EyesWideOpen
    If you don't get banned after this then I'll be pissed because I've gotten warnings for some extremely mild stuff and you are calling people fags and twats.
    iommi600
    The fact that I appreciate those albums are PROBABLY (just probably) the reason I own them... Anyway, just hoping that the next mod to stop by delete all this jazz...
    iommi600
    Being a fan (or "true fan", "big fan", whatever you want to call it) =/= liking. I'm not into all their albums, but I own the ones I'm into. It's also certainly different from "a band you know nothing about". Also, fanboys? Asslicking? lulz
    theFACEdude
    Just to be clear, I downvoted you not because of iommi but because you seem like a dick
    vppark2
    I accidently downvoted you because I was too focused on downvoting MuseicianX...fml...
    iommi600
    Dude, are you butthurt or something? If I give my opinion on anything around here, you come around all angered and reply. Besides, I know nothing about Muse, that's why I already ordered this album and I got their 3 first albums on CD. Get over yourself.
    Mack888
    also, being a fat, greasy, ginger, buck toothed sheep shagging haggis eating wet fart producing skirt wearing fanny > MuseicianX
    Mack888
    What does being a teenager in Scotland have to do with anything? rofl
    iommi600
    It's hard to tell when you comment the very same thing on EVERY article I comment, but whatever.
    ironman316
    bro.
    Mack888
    getting stabbed > MuseicianX
    iommi600
    rofl at this shit, I feel sad that it took me so long to realize this guy is a troll.
    vppark2
    I suggest ppl do give him 5 likes for that comment just to see his response/reaction if he actually will throw himself off the bridge. I just liked it, congrats MuseicianX.
    Mack888
    being born in October 1989 doesn't make me a teenager, does it genius?
    spiff-corgi
    It's a great album in general, just not a great Muse album. Muse can't ever return to their Showbiz or Origin days but what they are doing now is at least decent and worth a listen. I'd rather they just did what they want and produce a few solid tracks each album like they do than become a tribute band to their early work.
    BlueIceBox
    It's not a terrible album, but in my opinion it's their weakest release. It's a half baked album. It sounds as if it's building up to something special, but before you know it, you're listening to the last track.
    JrTriforce
    It's odd how most people think that this album is better than Resistance, but Resistance has a 8.6 rating, and this one only got 7
    Hebriqui
    I don't feel people should review the album relatively to their opinion on the older work of the artist. In my opinion, you need to look at the album with quite a clean slate. If you know that an album won't be in the same style as previous work, why judge it negatively on behalf of that? That just seems rather stupid to me. About the album itself: I think it's one of their better albums. It's got a few "weaker" tracks (read: unsustainable and big freeze), but also a few small masterpieces. A lot of instrumental layers, and Bellamy pumps his vocals out with great range and power as always. Great riffing and a good concept.
    Superperfex
    I hate how anyone that hates muse calls their fans, "fanboys." First of all, If I say that I love this album, it does not mean that I'm a fanboy. I like this style, and always have. They just never made muse songs with this style. Now that they are getting better by expanding their horizons, people jump up their throats and say it sucks. Not only that, but I get attacked for saying that I love the album. To anyone that is even reading this, I provided my side of the argument. What gives you the right to hate on my opinion?
    crazysam23_Atax
    What gives you the right to say people who disagree with you are wrong? If other people say it sucks, why do you care? You like it? Cool. Enjoy it. I don't like it. I'll spend my money elsewhere. Why's that an issue?
    Superperfex
    You're wrong because you think I am wrong. That's why. I'm just expressing my feelings about something; which is something you can never prove or disprove. It's how I feel. Deal with it. I think it's a great album and that they are doing just fine. No one cares if you don't buy it.
    JoshuaLilley98
    I think this album is very good in my opinion, but some of the songs did take a while to grow on me
    itsgoodtobefree
    Some of the songs would be great if they hadn't traded in their instruments for computers (Follow Me and Madness come to mind). Panic Station and Animals are amazing though.
    ggkiwi
    please have some decency to know how the songs were produced before spewing stuff out. its really idiotic when you find out youre wrong
    itsgoodtobefree
    Whatever. My main point was that I wished they would have made a more "proper" sound rather than an electronic sound for those songs.
    Ironpriest
    Even the "dubstep" was made with guitar, bass and drums. That's quite a bloody effort and kinda cool...
    Kueller917
    Also Follow Me was done on a computer in studio but the band does a good job translating it live.
    DantePhoenix
    Good thing there is still a band that will keep giving us something both catchy and musically competent. I salute you, Muse. Thank you for the diversity and NOT RELEASING THE SAME FUCKING RECORD OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Not saying it's their best, but I'd give it a 9. Naysayers: Hold your tongue, because there is a good chance this record will grow on you.
    seventh_angel
    The thing about Muse fans is that they seem to find an excuse for everything bad they make. I like Muse; although Resistance and this one are kind of bad. Yes, both have a couple of good songs, but not enough to make them good albums. What really irritates me is the fact that they say "Oh they changed their sound but they're still amazing" or "I first didn't like it, but this song is a grower" while listening to that god-awful "Madness" song. Face it, if that song was done by any other artist you didn't even know, you wouldn't give a **** about it. That's what happens with 80% of Resistance or The 2nd Law, and that's what pisses me off about those albums and Muse's fanbase. I know I should respect everyone's opinions, and I usually do, but these people who blindly follow bands really irritate me.
    Juln.
    even if Madness was made by someone else, I would have still recognized the beauty of the final part of the song, or the choirs, or the guitar solo.. it's still music, isn't it? You can't say it's an awful song because it has electronics or whatever.. it's like looking at the new iPhone5 and say "god, that's awful! it has a retina display, how could they do that to cellphones!! now every-freakin-cellphone has a retina display! they're too mainstream!"
    SlapBassTetris
    You're foolish. if someone legitimately likes a song, why should you care? what makes your opinion more important than anybody else? it's a good album, a great album in fact. But muse has grown out of your tastes. their not the same band they were when they started. You also can't make assumptions like, "if someone else made it you wouldn't care about it." That shits never happened, but muse made this song and i like it. Madness has a U2 flavor to it and i like U2. Your opinion doesn't matter and neither does mine, but i feel i have to call you out on your bullshit anyway.
    ptrnsntofpwn
    I like some of your points but some songs actually do take time to grow on you. I know plenty of songs off albums I heard on the first listen and I was like "Oh great! Filler!" that I now listen to all the time...and I like madness i definitely like it better than their other single off this album. I don't understand your Madness hatred
    spiff-corgi
    I completely agree. There's this stigma that the word "grower" is a cop-out for a filler song, but some of my favourite albums are comprised of songs that take a few listens to truly appreciate. If people want music that's immediately accessible it sounds like they should just stick to the charts.
    theFACEdude
    Haha I actually love Madness now. The first half is a little bit average, but everything from the solo onwards is pretty awesome.
    spiff-corgi
    "Face it, if that song was done by any other artist you didn't even know, you wouldn't give a **** about it." Really? We're doing this? You're saying as an absolute that nobody who ever listens to Muse would be bothered about Madness if it wasn't made by Muse. You know this for certain. Cos it sounds a bit like you're stating your opinion as fact. I'm as underwhelmed as most other people with Muse's last 2 albums, but Madness is a great, inventive pop song.
    NeutralFan
    I agree in principle, but I think you're being a bit presumptious. I'm a long-term Muse fan who's still making his mind up over the album, but I know one thing for certain: at first I didn't like Madness, but it really has grown on me. The rest of the album is hit(hugely)-and-miss(again, hugely ) for me, but in Madness's case I have a legitimate opinion that runs counter to your theory. So change it, bitch.
    Kueller917
    The blindingly following happens it a lot of fanbases. It's rather sad sometimes when they fool themselves into liking everything and defend it under terms like "real fans". That said, don't knock out everyone for this. I've had my growers (songs can grow on you!) and instant favorites off this album, but also the tracks I'd rather live without.
    vppark2
    You and I should start a protest. A protest to get rid of those people who blindly follow bands for the sake of it
    TheChaz
    I don't even like Muse. Madness is pretty much their only song I like.
    crazysam23_Atax
    That about sums it up for me. I really tried to get in "The Resistance". I listened to it for hours. Eventually, I just deleted it from my music library. If "2nd Law" is essentially more of this "we're experimenting" crap, then I'd rather spend my $10 elsewhere.
    L.A.P.D.
    Colohue I really loved your review of the lyrics. I will be looking forward to your reviews of other albums.
    SlapBassTetris
    very undeserved score. this album is great. The problem is most of you are judging this album based on what you think it should be, not what it is. Since this is ultimate guitar, the majority of you are probably metal heads who don't understand anything outside chuga chuga music. it's unfair to blast a great recording because you're butt hurt that it's not the same thing as showbiz or origin of symmetry.
    NeutralFan
    I agree that reviews should always be as objective as possible. However, that's not to say that someone can't dislike this album objectively. I for one like it, but parts of it let me down, and I can understand how an impartial listener may dislike it. Fact is, everyone is going to compare this album to what they know of music and the music they like - including Muse fans - so you're never going to reach total objectivity in a review of it. The best you can hope for is that people are educated, clued up and sensible enough to judge the album as objectively as they can.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Look, man...what if it's just your opinion that it's a "great recording"? You seem to be acting butthurt because some of us disagree with you.
    burghUK
    It's a step in the right direction from resistance. I can't think of one band who's fan were ever happier with new releases over the "older" ones.
    G0dzilla
    Back in my day, they didn't call it trolling, they called it being a dick. To be on topic however, i enjoyed quite a few tracks from the new Muse CD.
    theFACEdude
    Still not sure about this album, though some songs are slowly growing on me. They sound like they're trying too hard to be different and experimental, and it's hindering their ability to write strong songs.
    blackwingbat
    "In an increasingly AI driven world, where the built-in brains of a computer game are smarter than any human..." This person has clearly never paid attention to the AI in a computer game. Or their English language classes in grade school, judging by the idiotic mistakes throughout the review.
    Jamie_W
    Animals is good. The end of Survival is good. The rest isn't for me.
    chemie1986
    I read the first review...as soon as I read "wet the appetite", I knew I was going to be listening to drivel (it's whet btw, you can't "wet" an appetite). Knights of Cydonia is not "old Muse" btw. The new album sucks baws.
    rocklee1431
    Even people who don't personally like the album have to admit matt did a real nice job on the guitar for the first time in a while. I'm glad he finally dusted it off.