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Muse The 2nd Law album cover
3.37 | 142 ratings | 13 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Supremacy (4:55)
2. Madness 4:39)
3. Panic Station (3:03)
4. Prelude (1:03)
5. Survival (4:17)
6. Follow Me (3:51)
7. Animals (4:23)
8. Explorers (5:48)
9. Big Freeze (4:41)
10. Save Me (5:09)
11. Liquid State (3:03)
12. The 2nd Law: Unsustainable (3:48)
13. The 2nd Law: Isolated System (4:59)

Total time - 53:49


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Line-up / Musicians

Matthew Bellamy / Vocals, guitar, keyboards, piano, synthesiser
Chris Wolstenholme / Bass, backing vocals
Dominic Howard / Drums

Releases information

Label: Helium-3

Thanks to Gallifrey for the addition
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Warner Bros / Wea 2006
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The 2nd LawThe 2nd Law
Warner Bros. 2012
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The ResistanceThe Resistance
Warner Bros. 2009
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MUSE The 2nd Law ratings distribution

(142 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

MUSE The 2nd Law reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
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.


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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#832241) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Review by 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.'


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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#834803) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, October 08, 2012

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions and Crossover 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.


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Send comments to ProgShine (BETA) | Report this review (#841185) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review by richardh
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!


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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#845682) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 26, 2012

Review by kev rowland
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 www.progarchives.com 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.


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Posted Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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


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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#914211) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 15, 2013

Latest members reviews

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, a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1022082) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, August 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 s ... (read more)

Report this review (#1011230) | Posted by Memo_anathemo | Monday, August 05, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 fa ... (read more)

Report this review (#849187) | Posted by Earendil | Friday, November 02, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 bette ... (read more)

Report this review (#836185) | Posted by A_pullmeunder_Z | Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 qui ... (read more)

Report this review (#831468) | Posted by kluseba | Monday, October 01, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 al ... (read more)

Report this review (#829241) | Posted by Gallifrey | Thursday, September 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#829183) | Posted by PerpetualProphet | Wednesday, September 26, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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