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4 stars While not a traditional "prog album". It has elements of progressive rock. It is a concept album pertaining to the world as it is. A practical police state. This album discusses the emotions of the people stuck in/dealing with this increased security and "big brother". It is a complete album in the vein of mix of Queen's "A Night at the Opera" and "The Game". With many genre's interwoven into what I call a masterpiece of prog/heavy/blues-funk. Bellamy's vocals are at their peak. While Wolstenholme and Howard provide a beyond exceptional rhythm section. The overall content of the lyrics are quite true and inspiring. To me the stand out tracks are are the first three. The album kind of tapers of with some "dubstep" influences, but what makes it cool is it's all done on Bellamy's customized guitar.

Definitely an album worth your time and a great followup to their epic album, "The Resistance".

Report this review (#829183)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well. I have had two days to suck this one in. Although, in that time it has gathered at least 10 plays, so I have safely formed an opinion. That opinion is that the great run of Muse was truly 2001-2009. Four 5 star albums in a row, I don't know many bands that have that, let alone popular alt-rock bands.

What's wrong with this album is what some people said was wrong with the Resistance, but much worse. There is too much plagiarism. I loved The Resistance, and it is actually my favourite Muse album, but I could still hear it. But here, it is more prominent than ever. And it's not just influence. There are direct melodies from other songs that have been slightly altered. I can hear Don't Stop Me Now and Another One Bites The Dust by Queen, Significant Other by Steven Wilson, and even previous Muse song, Invincible. It just becomes annoying.

Muse sound like a teenage band who are trying to find their own sound but can't help but copy their idols. And this would be understandable if this was the case. But it isn't. Muse have had their own style, multiple times, they have even influenced many bands after them. Dream Theater named them as an influence on Octavarium!

Now. That is the bad part. There are no truly great parts of this album, but that does not mean it isn't good in some sense. It is both their most progressive, and most pop release yet. The opener, "Supremacy" has some very prog metal layers, a couple of odd signatures (I think, I'm not great at listening), and a fantastic falsetto hook line. Very Muse. The next song, lead single "Madness" is almost the polar opposite. And once you get past the original copying of "I Want to Break Free", it's actually quite a nice synth rock song.

"Big Freeze" is one of the highlights, and although everyone says it sounds like U2, fortunately I have really never heard U2 and am not bothered by it. "Panic Station" (apparently the next single, ugh) is probably the worst on the album, sounding so 80's that it actually wears sparkly pants.

The majority of the album is weak, electronic inspired stadium rock, with not much to give, but I'm sure you could like them given a few listens, but really not stand-out like songs on previous albums.

But something rather new comes up on the last four tracks, beginning with two without Thom Yorke, I mean Matt Bellamy, on vocals. Instead, introverted bassist Chris Wolstenholme takes spotlight, and pulls out two very countering songs, the slow ballad "Save Me", and the hard rocker "Liquid State". His vocal delivery is good, and he even does the characteristic Muse falsetto very well, and is a good simple alternative to Bellamy's insane vibrato.

The final two songs are essentially a 9 minute instrumental track, with some interviews and spoken vocals intertwined. If you ignore the obvious 'brostep' breakdown, "Unsustainable" is actually a really nice track, with some great dissonance, and Matt's wavering vocals reminiscent of the absolutely astounding "Overture" from The Resistance. The second part, "Isolated System" is much more ambient, and actually nicer. I think that Muse could pull of some really nice post-rock sort of stuff (side project idea?) if they wanted, and this is quite relaxing. I'll admit, the woman's voice is rather annoying, and Bellamy's knowledge of science really doesn't help the apparent concept, but it's still nice. Not perfect as a finale, though.

Overall, ignore the plagiarism, you've got a alright alt-rock album with prog and electronic influences. But there are no absolute stunners. Even in the coldly received "Resistance", pretty much everyone agreed that 7 minute explosion "Unnatural Selection" was brilliant, and the opening riff of "MK Ultra" still stands as one of the best riffs ever in my opinion. The 2nd Law shows Muse developing, but they seem to be without the great songs that got them somewhere.

If you hated the Resistance, you'll hate this too.

If you liked the Resistance, you'll probably be a bit disappointed, but there's some nice stuff.

If you are a teenage girl who worships everything that Matthew Bellamy does, you'll love this.


Report this review (#829241)
Posted Thursday, September 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Muse are probably the most famous contemporary Rock band coming from United Kingdom and they have perfectly managed to walk the thin path between musical innovation and commercial success in the past. The trio continues to walk on this path with the new release "The 2nd Law". On one side, the quite unique vocals of Matthew Bellamy, the diversified progressive song writing and the multiple influences from rock bands of the seventies and eighties such as Queen can still be found as trademarks on this record. On the other side, the band added a few calmer and introspective songs to their repertoire but also included a few more Electronic Rock and especially several popular Dubstep influences on the new album. One could perfectly describe this record by saying that Queen meets Skrillex with some Coldplay moments. The new album though definitely tries out some new elements but in its whole it's less innovating and especially surprising as the previous "The Resistance".

As highlights, I would first of all cite the vivid Dubstep single "Madness" where the title fulfills all its promises. Another potential hit is the upcoming single "Panic Station" that sounds like a Funk orientated mixture of Queen and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Of course, there also is the almost exaggeratedly bombastic "Survival" that has been very well chosen as song for the Olympic Games in London last summer. A different kind of highlight is the more laid back and danceable "Follow Me" that could have been a big hit in the eighties and coming from a band such as Pet Shop Boys. We also get the dark and bass guitar driven Alternative Rock song "Liquid State" which is one of two tracks featuring bassist Christopher Wolstenholme on the vocals. Finally, there are the two closing parts of "The 2nd Law" that mix atmospheric and dramatic orchestral parts with up-tempo Dubstep influences which gives the whole thing a weird science-fictional sound. It's an interesting experiment but is definitely less gripping than the "Exogenesis" trilogy on the last release.

This means that the new record is still diversified and entertaining and contains many strong potential singles. The only negative point I would cite out is the fact that there are a few too many calm tracks in the second part of the release and that the material is overall less gripping and surprising as it has already been in the past. There are also a few too many influences taken from the eighties that almost feel like plagiarism from time to time. But in the end, this record is neither a true step back nor a step forward but rather a step towards new directions and trends after the strong last output. Personally, I prefer the previous release but the new album is still better than about ninety percent coming from other popular Alternative Rock acts in the world.

Report this review (#831468)
Posted Monday, October 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Muse have excelled on their latest release "The 2nd Law" featuring some mind blowing songs that have a colossal epic sound with infectious melodies and powerhouse vocals. Bellamy is simply wonderful on this album, crystal clear emotive vocals that move into falsetto high register effortlessly. His guitar work is astonishing and on this release there is a symphonic quality that resonates in a cinematic soundscape. The concept of the album deals with a world in turmoil where its occupants are under constant surveillance and the threat of a police state domination looms as the government tightens its grip on a frightened populace.

The opening track 'Supremacy' is a stunning composition that has a very distinct James Bond musical foundation. It would work beautifully with the next Bond film "Skyfall". The guitars are heavy on the low end with an odd signature and the ending phrase is lifted directly from the James Bond school of thought.

This is followed by the hit single 'Madness' with a Dubstep techno repetitive figure and Bellamy solid on silky smooth vocals. The rhythm is measured and the melodic sound overall is reminiscent of a synthesized version of Queen.

Next is the blindingly brilliant 'Panic Station' that floored me on first listen and then grew on my like Osmosis. Wolstenhole's bass figure is funkadelic and the rhythm is at first akin to INXS' 'Suicide Blonde'. It is a danceable number with a profound funky groove that reminds me more and more of Stevie Wonder's retro classic 'Superstition'. In the mid-section is an ascending psychedelic sound that is joined by a phased guitar motif.

After this wonderful start 'Prelude' comes in which is a peaceful piano and strings instrumental with angelic choral intonations. It leads into 'Survival' that is the world famous 2012 Olympics theme, that I liked when hearing it during the opening ceremony. It loses some of its majesty here but is still endearing though bombastic with those choir sections. The guitar is tremendous with an old school style, almost like a parody of a western theme. The huge choir voice sections are a little too bombastic for my tastes. It is followed by 'Follow Me' with a nice clean synth sound and Bellamy's accomplished vocals that have a melancholy feel here. A catchy melody is driven by buzzing synth pulses and an atmosphere of grandeur.

'Animals' begins with electric piano and Howard's steady percussion. The vocals are laid back and echoed with gorgeous guitar licks. This song sounds like it may have been lifted from "Absolution" or "Origin of Symmetry" with that signature Muse sound, building gradually to the instrumental break. The guitar work is superb as always complimenting the bass and drums. It builds to a loud coda with angry voices, sounding like the recording of a riot, perhaps paying homage to the recent riots that have taken place in the UK.

A gentle keyboard is accompanied by very soft vocals on 'Explorers', "don't give in, we can walk through the fields, and fill in nature's glow, but all the land is old, there's none left for you or for me". The chorus is uplifting with the soul stirring lyrics sung so emotionally as Bellamy pleads, "free me from this world, I don't belong here, it was a mistake, a prison in my soul, can you free me, free me from this world". It sounds very much like Radiohead and I noticed Bellamy has lost a lot of his intakes of breaths between phrases that punctuated the earlier Muse albums. At the end of the song the song goes up a key for one more chorus and a lilting piano closes it off.

'Big Freeze' follows, with a 4/4 beat and some glorious lead guitar passages. The vocals are more forced on this song and it settles into a sustained string bend at the end which is effective. 'Save Me' is more serene with sanguine vocals sung beautifully by Wolstenholme with elongated phrases over a reverberated guitar sound. It breaks out into a syncopated faster tempo by Howard, and then an odd time signature locks in to drive it to its conclusion, accompanied by Bellamy's guitar arpeggios.

A heavier distorted riff crunches on 'Liquid State', one of the highlights on the album. It is refreshing to hear a chunk of metal guitar palm mutes after all the ambience and melancholy preceding. Wolsteholme has a more aggressive vocal style and the theme deals with the hard knocks of life, "kick me when I'm down, feed me poison, fill me till I drown." The chunky riffs grind throughout and really kick this along superbly.

The next song has fast violin serrations and epic atmospherics. 'The 2nd Law: Unsustainable' has a cinematic quality and some intriguing narratives about conserving energy and entropy. The next section is deliriously off kilter with a robotic voice and weird sonic guitar slides and electronic pitches. It comes out of nowhere as a distinct sound and then Bellamy joins in with intonations. This is followed by 'The 2nd Law: Isolated System' with piano chimes and angelic guitar sounds. It builds with violins and more narrative voice overs about finding a solution to the world's problems, namely the countdown to complete shutdown.

"The 2nd Law" album starts off brilliantly with 4 powerhouse songs and then afterwards tends to sound more pedestrian; catchy songs but nothing outstanding. The last 3 songs are excellent and bring it back to its masterful quality. This is certainly one of Muse's most innovative albums, though I am still more inclined towards their earlier material. The sound is more diverse and they take more risks on this, delving into a myriad of musical genres, from Dubstep to 80s techno, channelling Queen, Radiohead, and Coldplay, and implementing an incredible degree of experimentation. It is not a full blown progressive experience and most songs would fit comfortably onto an alternative radio playlist, but it delivers a sizeable impact and grows on the listener. None of the tracks are particularly lengthy or complex in structure, but I enjoyed it more than "The Resistance". In any case it is definitely well worth a listen and no doubt the Muse fanbase will be absolutely delighted with this excellent album.

Report this review (#832241)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'The 2nd Law' - Muse (6/10)

Believe me, I wanted to hate this album. I really did. After having heard the teaser "Unsustainable" about a month back, I was left scratching my head, and certainly not because it was too abstract for my plebeian musical tastes to process. As far as the single was concerned, it sounded like Muse had dumbed down their symphonic edge to the point where I could expect a bib and apron to come along with it. Adding insult to injury, superfluous dubstep influences were rampant, offering the sonic equivalent of having my brain fried in a saucepan. Considering that the other two singles ("Madness" and "Survival") certainly weren't much better in the songwriting department, I was actually rather looking forward to writing what I only imagined would be one of my most negative reviews yet. Of course, as it turns out, I greatly overestimated the sort of emotion Muse's sixth album would conjure in me. "The 2nd Law" is by no means excellent, but Muse's outrageous approach to alternative rock is worth a certainly worth a spin, although the flash-over-substance dynamic suggests that it won't remain a hot topic for long.

Going back a little ways, Muse were a big band for me in high school. Before I had really opened myself to the 'modern' scene in progressive rock, Muse were there to offer a more streamlined experience, while still managing to bring that sense of bombast and arrangement. By the time "The Resistance" dropped and left me disappointed, I had already moved onto different things. "The 2nd Law" perpetuates some of the negative traits I saw in "The Resistance", but there is a greater sense of inventiveness to the music than there was in 2010. Muse are still defined by a somewhat contrived combination of symphonic music and angsty alternative rock, although I'd argue a lot of the depressive feeling in their music has been rather diminished. In its stead, vocalist Matt Bellamy splits his time between singing about personal topics and heavy-handed politik. As was even moreso the case with "The Resistance", Bellamy's political material is cheesy and ineffective, although his voice is as powerfully operatic as it's ever been.

Muse aren't necessarily expanding their boundaries on "The 2nd Law", although there's a surprising variety to the sounds and styles heard here. Barring the tired Queen-isms and shallow symphonic arrangements of the singles, Muse tend to incorporate these styles well. "Supremacy" sounds like it could either be a national anthem or soundtrack to the next James Bond film. "Panic Room" is the sort of dance-rock track I'd imagine gets played in trendier London clubs. "Follow Me" throws out all sense of rock, focusing instead on vocally- driven pop electronica, complete with the frustrating dubstep 'wub'. There are plenty of experiments that don't work, although there are a couple of gems here. The atmospheric "Animals" and the full fledged post-rocker "Save Me" are both excellent, and stand as being two of the greatest tracks Muse have ever done. Particuarly on "Animals", the classically- derived melodies do not feel forced in the slightest; they allow themselves to get a little wild and even proggy without the overwhelming pretense that usually comes along with it.

Bellamy described "Explorers" as a collaboration between Louis Armstrong and Meatloaf doing a post-metal track, and while I wouldn't say it quite matches the promise, it's an interesting enough 'ballad' track, highlighting Bellamy's vocal skills. Speaking of vocals, bassist Chris Wolstenholme offers his vocals on a couple of tracks, including "Save Me". Although he's certainly not as distinctive as Bellamy, his no-nonsense approach is refreshing, especially after the majority of the album has been spent digesting Matt's larger- than-life performance.

Much like "The Resistance", things wrap up with a multi-track suite. This time around, it's only a two-part composition, and in a sense, I believe it summarizes my opinions on the album. The first half ("Unsustainable") is a sour hodge-podge that feels like Muse were trying to force themselves to throw as much as they could into a short time, without the merit or skill to justify it. Although the follow-up and closer does not particularly wow me, it demonstrates that the band can exploit the rich sound of a string section properly. "The 2nd Law" feels like a progressive rock album catered to the whim of the masses. It is filled with surface complexity and surprises, and while these can be very enjoyable on the first few times around, there isn't the sort of depth that will likely have me coming back for more in the future. With each album, Muse have tried to outdo previous efforts in terms of bombast, and in this respect, "The 2nd Law" certainly succeeds. There's obviously been a fortune invested in it, but it's come to the point where the 'epic' quality is feeling more forced than ever. It's not without merit, and it's certainly better than I thought it would be, but this path Muse is taking with their music is, in a word, 'unsustainable.'

Report this review (#834803)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've only gotten into Muse within the last couple years, so I don't have the perspective of a longtime fan, but I'll try to put this album in context as much I can. This album is a departure from their usual work, but that is the nature of any prog rock band. Prog constantly evolves, for better or for worse, but it is always growing and adapting. Muse incorporates electronica and dubstep influences here. While this may seem shocking, Muse is evolving with the times. No matter what you think of it, dubstep is wildly popular these days. Muse uses dubstep here sparingly, so it really enhances the music, I think. If you open your mind, you'll hear some really thought-provoking music and lyrics. Muse never fails to deliver lyrically. If you're willing to try something new, check this out. You'll find something to appreciate, I guarantee it.
Report this review (#836185)
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
2 stars It's not sych a bad album, but.... it lacks absurdly in originality. Every single song remind me of some other band. And it becomes impossible to just listen as a Muse album, cause it looks a cover record.

It's not just influences, the songs actually are almost identical to other bands styles.

You have Led Zeppelin and Queen here, then U2 and Radiohead there. It's too much complicated.

Matthew Bellamy's vocals still great, but there's too much influence and too little Muse. And they can do better than that, unless they are aimming for big markets and bigger audiences, and that seems to be the case.

Report this review (#841185)
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Absolution blew my socks off when I first heard it and The 2nd Law comes pretty darn close to doing the same.Although nowhere near as dense as that masterpeice, this work sees them exploring a variety of ideas and styles from Stevie Wonder r'n'b to Led Zep hard rock and of course Queen. As we all know they are big fans and are never short of a 'tribute' or two , the wonderfully pompous Survival being a prime example. My favourite track is undoubtedly the title track as split into two parts. The first part (Unsustainable) apparently draws strong influence from 'dubstep' (whatever that is) while the second part (Isolated System) is a beautifull chilled out sounding peice with a powerfull repeating electronic theme. Goosebumps all the way.

I do have some reservations about one or two tracks especially Panic Station. Could have been so good if the wonderfull brass section hadn't been mixed so low.Production wise at times its a bit too 'Americanised' for my taste but that said nothing ever drags and every time I listen to this album I am never bored. Its not prog rock in any traditional sense but its got barrel loads of energy and ideas. Good to have them back and NOT firing blanks!

Report this review (#845682)
Posted Friday, October 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm pleasantly surprised about how much I like this album. I heard people saying how awful it was, and I heard Unsustainable, which, believe me, is the low point on the album. Overall, the album is definitely more simplistic and electronic-based than their old stuff, but thankfully it's not all faux-dubstep like Unsustainable. The album is actually pretty eclectic musically, even though there are noticeably quite a few ballads, but, thanks to impactful lyrics like the ones in Explorers, this isn't too much of a problem. For example, there are Queen-esque dramatic tracks like Survival, a smooth electronic jam (Madness), a funk-electronic hybrid dance song (Panic Station), even an old-school Muse track with some harpsichord-sounding keys (Animals), some U2-like rock (Big Freeze), a very non-Muse sounding grunge song (Liquid State).

Overall, the album has grown on me immensely, but even though the last two tracks, Unsustainable and Isolated System, are brave attempts at originality with a noble message, they are awful. The album as a whole, however, is not, and I'd even say it's rather good.

Rating: 7/10

Report this review (#849187)
Posted Friday, November 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
4 stars These days when I am reviewing albums, I often search the web to see what others are saying before I commit words to the page. I never change my opinion on the music, but sometimes I find some facts that may have been missing from the press release (if indeed there was one). So before starting on this one I of course went straight to and started to read the first review by AtomicCrimsonRush, where he stated that Bellamy's vocals on this album is just incredible, especially the way he moves to falsetto. 'That's exactly what I thought' I said to myself. Then he commented that opening song 'Supremacy' would have worked very well with the new James Bond movie. Well that answered one question for me, as I had again thought the same and was going to check to see if it did indeed make an appearance. Then he goes on to say that they come across as Queen and at that point I decided to stop reading any further so that I could actually write my review without feeling that I had copied someone else's in totality!!

Bellamy is at his absolute best here, of that there is no doubt, and the more I have played the album the more convinced I have become that Muse in 2012 are what Queen would sound like if they had started in the Nineties instead of the end of the Sixties. I haven't actually heard any of their albums since 'Absolution', which incredibly is 9 years ago now, so the change in their style over time is probably more obvious to me than those who have followed their career more closely. Although they do retain their harder roots, they are obviously a much more polished and refined band than they used to be and they aren't afraid to play whatever style they want, often switching inside the same song.

This is an album that screams 'class' from the highest rooftops, and all I can say is that the local boys have done good. There aren't exactly a plethora of bands from Devon, although Kirk Brandon attended the same school as me, and Wishbone Ash have always been seen as the local heroes (although they actually came together in London and only two of the four were from Torquay), but these Teignmouth lads have done the old county proud. There may not be as many crunching guitars as there used to be, although there is a nifty powerful digression in 'Survival' (which is highly influenced by Brian May). You won't have read it here first, but this album is a solid four stars in anybody's book.

Report this review (#875283)
Posted Thursday, December 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For practical reason I always rip my CDs right away after purchase to my iPod so that I can play it anytime I want. I sometime transfer them into a SD card and then insert it into my portable speaker to be mounted at my bicycle. One day when I rode my bicycle I was surprised with a track that sounded very rocking and I was not aware what that track was coming from - which band and which album? I thought it was something like Rush or any other hard rock bands like Audioslave or others maybe. I finally got to know when the second track was played as that was the kind of music I have been aware of: Muse! And well yeah ...the track that I was not familiar with was the opening track of 2nd Law album: Supremacy.

Yes, I have to admit that through this first track I almost don't recognize that this is Muse because it's so rocking and I really enjoy it. The way Bellamy sings is really wonderful and the song itself has a very good composition let alone the powerful meaning of the lyrics. I thought that Muse has changed music direction with this kind of rockin' opening track that finally becomes my favorite as well. The second track Madness represents the typical music of Muse. Panic Station is another good track with a straight forward composition. This album represents Muse existence in the tradition of British pop music with strong flavour of rock. The album has powerful message, lyric-wise. There are some orchestration like Prelude to open the next track Survival, as well as the one presented at the epic The 2nd Law: Unsustainable and Isolated System. I like these last two tracks that form like an epic, especially with some narration as well as the use of sound effects.

Overall, it's a very good album which I can enjoy from start to end. There are some progressive elements inserted in some segments in the album. It's a nicely-composed album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#914211)
Posted Friday, February 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Muse formula to success is simple: a couple of songs for MTV, another couple for a soundtrack in a box office movie and that's it. The rest of the album is always excelent. I love the music in this album, maybe some of them are not that real prog but they are good songs indeed. The first track sounds like perfect for a James Bond movie, with excellent orchestration, and the typical low verse part rising to a climax in the chorus. The second track is a complete tribute to Queen, the choruses, the guitar, the way Matthew sings ... Really good indeed. The next songs are well performed, well arranged. Matthew is always at a great level, performing and singing. Chris and Dominic have good participation, but I think they have pretty more action, in terms of progressive music, in Sing for Absolution. But the album, as I mentioned above, is really good. The last track, a mini suite, suited perfectly for the World War Z movie, as a background soundtrack, and the song Follow Me, as well for that movie, is really good, though more alternative oriented. Not as excellent as Sing for Absolution, or The Resistance, but The 2nd Law is another proof of how one band can be successful and be heard by heard by all the world, making music for the masses, subliminally and taking control of the industry with good compositions.
Report this review (#1011230)
Posted Monday, August 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

New elements in an album that revisits sounds from the past and points new directions for the future of Muse.

Somehow I knew I was going to like The 2nd Law, without even knowing why. And well, my impressions were correct. Where The Resistance was a difficult effort of appreciation, and it is certainly his weakest album, this one is really an effort much more "digestible", which introduces new sounds for the band at the same time it shows a sense of familiarity revisiting some of sounds they have explored in the past.

There are other sounds too. No Muse album that was so much electronic, and dubstep may shock some (I personally do not like, but in the end did not bother me much). Although electronic music is not my cup of tea - and I have found it unnecessary for the song Follow Me - I have to admit that the beat of Madness is addictive. Speaking of which, I think no other Muse album was so influenced by Queen: there are some passages of Explorers' melody that remind me of the classic Don't Stop Me Now, Madness seems like a modern version of the album Hot Space (and ironically better than many of the songs from that album which is my least favorite of the Queen), and sexy tapping bass-line from Panic Station that opens me back immediately to funky Another One Bites Dust.

And talking about bass ... nothing surprised me in The 2nd Law as Chris Wostenholme assuming the leadership of the vocals on two songs. He sings very well! His voice is fresh, friendly and somehow soft, though sing the heaviest song on the disc, Liquid State. As other members have pointed out, Chris is the member who brings the heaviest ideas to the albums. Besides Liquid State, he sings Save Me, which is my favorite song on the disc and perhaps the most beautiful they've done (besides Falling Away With You). Both deal of his victory against alcoholism, and I must say I'm proud of you Chris! I sincerely hope he will have more opportunities to sing other songs in the next album, bringing the Muse a bit of momentum the Queen, which saw Brian May and Roger Taylor - both excellent vocalists - taking lead vocals on some of the band's songs.

Overall, The 2nd Law to hear it was a very pleasant experience for me. Tied with Origin of Symmetry in the position of my 2nd favorite album, it can alienate some with their electronic elements and some sections that seem derived from other bands or the very old stuff from them, but it is a masterpiece and I'm not ashamed to take this. My favorite songs are: Supremacy, Madness, Panic Station, Survival, Animals, Save Me, Liquid State and the two parts of the title track (the second one I had heard in the film World War Z).

4.5 stars.

Report this review (#1022082)
Posted Thursday, August 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars "MUSE will eat itself," my son predicted confidently in 2009 as we listened in mounting horror to 'The Resistance'. "And it will happen with their next album." Well, what do you know, he was right. Sadly.

BELLAMY's songwriting has always been key to this band, and on this album he appears to have mellowed into inevitable, if premature, middle-age. His songs are a little rotund around the middle, a little too comfortable, a little - pleasant. Any raunchiness is faked (I submit the execrable faux-funky 'Panic Station' as an example). The band is now institutionalised, a national treasure, as demonstrated by their invitation to write a song for the London Olympics - which produced the single worst song in the history of event-based music ('Survival'). I feel embarrassed just listening to it. And it gets its own prelude! Really. The schmaltzy ballads and fake concert hall piano twirls ('Explorers', I'm looking at you) are grating. Only at the end of the album does he bestir himself to produce something listenable - both parts of the title track are corkers for different reasons. Finally some sinew visible under the layers of fat, some beauty emerges from the confected landscape. Bonus: the tracks make an important point. Two tracks for the MUSE playlist.

Two other musicians play with him, though at times they're hard to spot. One of them gets to write and sing a couple of songs. Ah, band democracy. Well, they're better than some of the stinkers BELLAMY perpetrates on us.

I wish I had better news to report.

Report this review (#1284021)
Posted Thursday, September 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars Starting as early as Origin of Symmetry in 2001, Muse's sound has continued to diversify. They've held their albums together with high song quality and lyrical unification, but with The Resistance, things started to go wrong. With the Second Law, they didn't know where to stop. In thirteen songs, they present too many different styles: symphonic rock, funk, electro-pop, straightforward alternative rock, hard rock/metal, and the controversial dubstep song' need I go on? Combining this many genres is determined to be a mess. It does not sound like an album. It does not sound cohesive.

The songwriting suffers as well and many of these tracks are weak. Whenever I listen to this I usually end up skipping about half of the songs, though there are still a few very strong tracks on here. Supremacy is the best, as the regal, grandiose, symphonic opener, and Survival could have easily launched itself into the upper echelons of Muse songs, had the lyrics not been so cheesy and the completely unnecessary choir been removed. One of Muse's heavier songs, it is utterly overblown' but it was written for the Olympics, after all. After you hear these two highlights, you know that Matt Bellamy's voice has not deteriorated whatsoever, and is probably eternal.

Of course, I have to talk about the electronic influence that has expanded from Undisclosed Desires and might be the dominant sound on The Second Law ' though it's hard to tell, considering there are so many different styles on it. The songs most strongly based in electronics are Madness, Follow Me, and Unsustainable. Madness is pure pop with a trace of dubstep in the background, complete with a simple riff, echoed by a catchy hook, 'M-m-m-m-m-m-ma-ma-ma-madness.' But only Muse could say the word 'evolve' twice in a prime-for-the-radio love song. Unsustainable is buried near the end of the album, and it's the song that made this album so controversial before it even came out. Three years since first hearing it and I still can't decide if it's good or bad ' there's nothing to judge it against because it's one of a kind: dubstep with an orchestra, choir, and robot vocals, with the spoken word parts addressing thermodynamics. Way to go, Muse. It's unique, and a song you should listen to for its novelty, if nothing else.

Bassist Chris Wolstenholme is responsible for the writing of two of the songs, Save Me and Liquid State, which sound completely normal and generic in comparison to the rest of the album. He sings them, and he has a good voice, though both compositions are fairly average. Save Me is slow and boring, pretty near the end but still nothing special. Liquid State is a heavier song, done well, driven by bass and worth listening to.

Towards the end, even as early Follow Me, the album takes on a distinctly non-Muse feeling. It becomes disconnected from the listener and doesn't really sound like them. Maybe that's me just going into denial about how they've taken their experimentation too far, but even the more traditional songs, the ballad Explorers and fairly basic Big Freeze, lack the signature Muse feel. This disconnection reaches a high with the closing track Isolated System. It's Muse's only (non intro/interlude) instrumental song, though featuring a great deal of samples. The emotional piano still conveys the old Muse idea that the world is going to end, but it's a piece that just doesn't sound like something they would write.

And the lyrics ' I've always admired Muse's lyrics, but I have no idea what is going on here. So many of them are ambiguous, cheesy, or inaccessible. There is little to no common ground between songs that attempts to unify the album, as was done on Black Holes and Revelations, and to a lesser extent, The Resistance.

The Second Law is a mediocre album. There are a few good songs, but too many different clashing styles and too much experimentation. It is inconsistent in terms of quality and sound, and so disjointed that it does not flow or sound like it should be together. Their worst album so far.

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Posted Sunday, June 7, 2015 | Review Permalink

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