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ALBUM REVIEW: Muse, The 2nd Law

TITLE: The 2nd Law
BAND: Muse
LABEL: Warner
RELEASED: September 28th 2012

Tonight, The Guardian released a preview of the new Muse album for those lucky enough to know about it. It’s out on Friday and from the singles that have already been released, Survival and Madness, you’d think the band have entered a phase of dubstep mixed with Queen-esque licks. To be honest, that’s not a million miles from the truth. With influences ranging from Skrillex to Led Zeppelin, this is one album that no one will be able to pin to any genre.

Having reviewed both the singles from the album, I wasn’t going in completely blind. However, there are a few surprises to say the least. The album is named after the second law of thermodynamics, which states that differences in temperature, pressure and chemical potential eventually equilibrate, causing the physical system containing them to dissolve. All sounds pretty complicated but the album definitely has a sense of doom with a countdown to an end. With a couple of sci-fi songs and even a dash of metal, it’s certainly a mixed bag that isn’t a definite hit with the fans. It is pretty powerful though and is guaranteed to leave you in awe by the end.

A lot of that is down to the closing tracks, dubstep smashes Unsustainable and Isolation System. With robotic vocals, computerised chaos and an apocalyptic outro, these tracks give the album a flourish and you’re left wondering if the world is really ending. Unsustainable is a metallic superhero of a track and is bursting with metallic energy and suspense while Isolation System has snippets of news bulletins from around the world, creating a dangerous, urgent atmosphere despite the calming chimes and air of mystery.

The spacey theme continues in Explorers and Animals, which both have a lost melancholy to them. The former’s slow piano support and pop ballad elements make it my favourite track on the album. It has got a great story attached to it about feeling alone in a strange place, which is something everyone has experienced. Animals has a mellow guitar and plenty of atmosphere that provokes your curiosity.

Muse have long been compared to Queen and it has never been more clear than on Panic Station. With the 80s psychadelic sound and a riff that is suspiciously similar to Another One Bites The Dust, they’ve never been closer to their fellow British rock legends. Opening track Supremacy is certainly a show-opener and is packed full of drama and slamming drums. The classical fusions give it a Phantom of the Opera slant and Matt’s vocals haunt the entire track, which explodes in a crescendo of guitars.

The album isn’t short of electronica either and it’s best seen on indie track Big Freeze and classic Muse number Follow Me, which features Matt’s son Bingham’s heartbeat keeping the rhythm. Both of these tracks are club hits and they’re ready-made live tracks to add to their already impressive set.

It’s not simply an album focused on doing things differently and creating big anthems though. There is a lot of deep subject matter too, as seen on Save Me and Liquid State, self-penned by bassist Christopher Wolstenholme about his alcoholism. Indeed, they’re two very different takes on the issue with Save Me being an atmospheric song of despair, which mirrors falling into a bottomless pit and metal track Liquid State confronting his demons head on. He takes over the lead vocals too and the emotion is red raw and incredibly powerful. Much heavier than a typical Muse song, Liquid State is really quite edgy and it has got a lot of grit, reflecting Chris’ determination.

If you’re into psychadelic-rock and sci-fi inspired dubstep, every track will be your cup of tea. Muse are experts at re-inventing themselves and for their sixth album, they’ve done it again and it would appear that they’ll only keep evolving.

Take a listen yourself at http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2012/sep/24/muse-2nd-law-album-stream

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