We can all agree that Muse is a bombastic band, not afraid to stretch the limits of their sound. And why shouldn’t they be when they consistently fill out stadiums around the world? Front man Matthew Bellamy tweeted that their sixth album would be a “Christian gangsta-rap jazz odyssey, with some ambient rebellious dubstep and face-melting metal flamenco cowboy psychedelia.” Fans weren’t sure whether to laugh at the comment or take it half-seriously. And after listening to “The 2nd Law,” it’s obvious that Bellamy was not far off.
“The 2nd Law” is an extremely diverse album, and yet it’s a hot mess. Before listening, ask yourself if you can live with that. The LP contains a mix of influences like Queen, Rush, Led Zeppelin, U2, Chopin and Bowie as well as lesser influences like Skillrex in the tracks “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” and “Madness.” In Muse’s previous album, 2009’s “The Resistance,” Bellamy drew from his classical training to write a three-part symphony. Now Muse has chosen to tackle a different genre: dubstep. Well, sort of dubstep — they’re still using instruments after all.
Although Muse is quick to adapt a new sound, they haven’t abandoned their roots. And that’s what makes “The 2nd Law” radically different from their last album, which left many fans disappointed. “Supremacy” features guitar smashing and operatic vocals that recall Muse’s 2001 album, “Origin of Symmetry.” Even on the dubstep track “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable,” the singer makes sure to boast vocals over this new robotic sound.
“Animals” revisits the soft intensity of their first album. It’s low-key, but the song ends with riot-like sounds — Muse has always been political. The track “Supremacy” feels influenced by Led Zeppelin. The lyrics boast, “Wait to see your true emancipation is a fantasy.”
On “The 2nd Law,” the band is still delivering in classic Muse fashion. Chris Wolstenholme’s bass lines are awesome. He also sings in the new album, and it’s a nice softer contrast from Bellamy’s explosive voice. Wolstenholme’s singing gives Bellamy full permission to noodle around instrumentally in “Liquid State” and “Save Me.” Dominic Howard’s drum lines are more accompanying and not as powerful as they were on the track “Assassin,” but they’re still competent and powerful enough. “Save Me,” “Follow Me” and “Explorers” revisit the quieter “Showbiz” days, keeping fans satisfied.
Muse’s new album is entirely diverse. You have their core sound in “Supremacy,” and something disco-like in “Panic Station.” Muse has always been daring, and they’re great live. They tried new stuff in “The 2nd Law,” but delivered on the old, which “The Resistance” didn’t do. So while this album is eclectic, it’s also rewarding. And it’s definitely better than “The Resistance.” More guitar could be added, and some tracks are obviously better than the others. But for experimentation and pure entertainment, “The 2nd Law” deserves a listen.