by Hugh Summers
|(image source: crackintheroad.com)|
From the peaking highs of Matt Bellamy’s falsetto voice in “Survival” to the deep rumble of slap bass in “Panic Station”, The 2nd Law certainly appears to be one of Muse’s most diverse albums yet.
So why did Matt Bellamy chose the title “2nd Law”? Well, surprisingly, he is referring to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, after hearing it on the BBC during the time of deep economic crisis.
Yet this album isn’t all about chaos and Matt Bellamy’s love of apocalyptic scenarios like the last album The Resistance (Inspired by George Orwell’s 1984); it also has a theme of love with the more legato and expressive tracks such as “Save Me” and “Liquid State” in which Matt Decided to hand role of lead singer to Chris Wolstenholme, the band’s bassist who happens to have a remarkably soothing voice.
Once again, Muse have not failed to deliver a powerful album opener with “Supremacy”, living up to that of “Apocalypse Please” from “Absolution” and “Take a Bow”, to open “Black Holes and Revelations”. This track really sets the theme for the rest of the album with its powerful opening of guitar, drums and trumpets with a familiar pentatonic riff, often favoured by Muse, contrasting with the later soft tune of violins and a beautiful demonstration of Matt’s vocals.
From this we move to “Madness”; with its deep bass line and soft vocals, it can certainly be seen as one of Muse's quietest songs in recent years; yet do not let that put you off for it is riddled with beautiful vocal ornaments by Matt and a more-than-elegant chorus.
At first, I believed “Panic Station” to be Muse taking the Mick, yet, after some more listening (and a bit of research), I have found it to be an extremely enjoyable song with a slap bass intro and syncopated vocal line with funky techno chorus. I can’t help but smile when hearing this song.
“Prelude” and “Survival” (Survival + an introduction) make the one of the most beautiful orchestral introductions and some of the most impressive vocals I have ever heard to form a piece that is simply awesome (did I mention it is the official song of the Olympics?)
“Follow me” has really grown on me; it begins with a deep and extremely moving Muse-style introduction. It gradually builds up to an explosion of sound. Personally, I am not particularly a fan of dubstep, but the deep dubstep bass mixed with the emotional roar of Matt’s voice has really exceeded all of my expectations.
“Animals” is certainly not my favourite song on the album but at first I was scrutinising Matt for toning down, personally, a bit too much, until I heard the fast drum roll lead up to fast-paced guitar solo and the beautiful wail of Matt’s voice, finishing with the roar of some sort of boxing ring to relate to the title.
“Explorers” seems hypnotic like a lullaby and is extremely soothing as it slowly builds to an extremely harmonically enticing and beautiful chorus and fades to the original lullaby theme ending with chimes and Matt Bellamy whispering “go to sleep”; I really love this track.
“Big Freeze” is a surprisingly upbeat track with funky strumming in the background by an electric guitar; I have a feeling that this may draw in the” indie hipsters”. I really like the direction Muse has decided to take.
“Save me” is when we first hear Chris as the lead singer; he has a great voice and the song isn’t half bad, I think this song may grow on me in time; the syncopated drums in the chorus mixed with sleigh bells give it a sort of joyous feel, and the song itself is quite enjoyable.
In “Liquid State”, I think the metal approach Muse have taken is rather good. Chris’s voice certainly begins to sound quite punkish and the piece has a strong bass line that may prove quite memorable.
“The Second Law: Unsustainable” is another song with a fantastic orchestral intro and relates back to the theme reinforcing the whole concept of a world on the brink of economic collapse; the strong dubstep is entirely played on Matt Bellamy’s guitar and really adds to the element of chaos in the album.
“The Second Law: Isolated System” is an instrumental track to close the album and is actually quite dark and depressing; I feel it makes a genuine impact on the listener and it really conveyed a deep sense of emotion to me as I listened to it.
Overall, I was really surprised by this album. I believed the bar had been set too high by The Resistance, yet what I have listened to over the past few days is one of the most brilliant, clever and inspiring albums I have ever heard. I would strongly recommend this to you if you are a fan of Muse or of rock, metal, dubstep, classical music or techno. I might as well just say: if you like music, then listen to this!