Sound — 8
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".
Lyrics — 8
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.
Overall Impression — 8
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.