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Muse's '2nd Law' a shining example of the musical eclectic


Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 09:01


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On September 28, 2012, English alternative rock band Muse released their album 2nd Law. With the rising popularity of the band’s new single, “Madness,” and their recent performances on shows like Saturday Night Live, Muse is quickly taking over the American music scene.

The sixth studio album release from the trio was to be “something radically different” from their previous albums, according to bassist Christopher Wolstenholme in an interview with UK magazine Karrang!
With the varying blend of genres, radically different it is.

Muse is famous for its capacity to experiment, its musical precision, its emphasis on the instrumental and powerful bass lines. These elements are still evident in Muse’s newest album, but they seem to have toned down the long, drawn-out instrumental solos. Their new songs are markedly more lyrical than previous others, without sacrificing the musical expertise their fans have come to know and love.

The first song, “Supremacy,” kicks the album off strong with amazing orchestration and a bass line that commands attention. Lead singer, Matthew Bellamy, establishes a vocal supremacy through displays of his range and volume. Drummer, Dominic Howard’s use of military-style snare gives the impression the band is starting a march toward some undisclosed enemy location.

“Madness” is their number one single from 2nd Law. With influences from Queen and David Bowie, one would think they were listening to an ‘80’s rock station when they hear it on the radio.

Next is “Panic Situation.” It starts off funky-fresh, giving Wolstenholme a great opportunity to show off his bass skills. The funk-style is reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ early days. If you buy the explicit version of the album, this is the song that made it that way. Apparently, one use of F-word in one song warrants the warning label.

After a short orchestral prelude, the song “Survival” begins with vocal “ah-ahs.” Captivating from the start, the empowering lyrics and uplifting instrumentation made this a shoe-in to be the official song of the 2012 London Olympics.

After “Survival” are several well-done compositions that give a refreshing positive interlude before the final songs.

They’re more typical of alternative rock with a few layers of electronica and rock ballad. These are great songs, but don’t seem to stand out on their own as much. That is, until the final two.

2nd Law is named for the second law of thermodynamics, which essentially defines a concept known as entropy and is stated as, in all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state.

The second law of thermodynamics is a central theme in the final songs of the record, a two-part pair titled after the album. The first part, “2nd Law: Unsustainable”, is the band’s attempt at Skrillex-style dubstep, and they did a mighty-fine job.  To add to the musical talent the band demonstrates, Muse reportedly did not use a synthesizer in the production of the song.

“2nd Law: Isolated System,” the second part of the final song, has more of a calming effect in contrast to the first part. It rests on a steady piano melody, string orchestra accompaniment and several sound bites. “Isolated System,” though musically soothing, foreshadows a quickening of pace through the sound bites Muse uses.

All in all, the album 2nd Law contains 12 songs and a short prelude, none of which I would call poorly written or composed. Muse stepped it up for their transformative expose’, reassuring their fans that old dogs can learn new tricks.

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