Muse have never taken themselves lightly and while at times it comes across as self-indulgent, more often than not Bellamy and Co. manage to impress. It’s no surprise that The 2nd Law is a remarkably different album to anything they have ever created; in the months leading to the release, all three members stated that this was an attempt to step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to produce a ‘new sound’. Whether you enjoy the result or not, they have certainly achieved their goal.
‘Supremacy’ opens with an android infused groove and orchestral elements that are a welcome addition; powerful and menacing, such an introduction to The 2nd Law is only to be expected from the progressive minds of the men that have given us some of the most popular, futuristic, tech-laden rock in recent years. An eruption of Bellamy’s signature falsetto interrupts the rigid tempo set by drummer, Dominic Howard and his military drum roll before the track rises to an almost deafening crescendo. We’re off.
From there on in the record twists and turns. The funk laden ‘Panic Station’ is reminiscent of the ’70s sounds of T. Rex and Marc Bolan. ‘Survival’ seems to be a Marmite delight, an ostentatious display of grandeur, each album has one and this time, Muse have outdone themselves; a hint of operatic chaos, heavy metal riffs and one final crescendo of classic rock vocals, marks ‘Survival’ as an impressive and iconic display of song writing. The introduction of dubstep is certainly startling however; tracks like ‘Follow Me’, ‘Unsustainable’ and ‘Isolated System’ don’t belong here. Just because it seems to be the most popular form of electronic music, it doesn’t mean that the technological rock monsters have to capitalise upon it. Leave the Wub-Wub to Skrillex and the army of Top 40 pop artists.
The latter half of the album is slower, less rocky and arranged to showcase the band’s lyrical abilities; unfortunately they are less impressive in 2012 as they once were and by this stage in the record, we come to expect domineering musical arrangements to distract from whatever the commentary, Bellamy is trying to share with us. Tracks like ‘Big Freeze’ make a valiant effort to awaken this listener but ‘Animals’, and ‘Save Me’ do little to impress and simply bore.
‘Liquid State’ resets the tone to earlier, but all too late. Perhaps if the preceding tracks were scattered amongst the more energetic songs, their complete blandness would have been diluted. As it stands, The 2nd Law is an album of two halves, the first being a powerful and moving display of talent and progression in their career; the latter an unimaginative effort to prove there is more to Muse than the tried and tested rock and roll.