The Word Alive
The Cellar, Southampton, UK - 1/12
The 2nd Law
Written by: PP on 11/10/2012 05:35:03
Those of you who suspected that "The 2nd Law" would be driven by dubstep based on the two initial songs we heard from the record, don't worry, Skrillex isn't making a surprise guest appearance on it. At least not until the very end of the disc. Fortunately, those fears were only an understandable overreaction to the shocking development that Muse out of all bands would include w-w-w-w-wobbling on their record, as it only exists as backing material to a few songs on the record. So previous fans can breathe a sigh of relief, because the band are still on a quest to write the biggest song in the history of music, even if their interstellar spaceship approaches planet earth a little closer than it's been for a few albums now.
"The 2nd Law" is essentially a record where modern meets old in the usual timeless manner that all Muse material is delivered with. "Panic Station", for instance, dabbles in Michael Jackson inspired pop territory, whereas "Survival" could easily be mistaken for a Queen song if it wasn't for Bellamy's unique vocals reminding you what band you are listening to. But that's not exactly what I meant with 'old', because the album contains a number of tracks which reach far back into Muse repertoire from the "Absolution" era, with "Explorers" leading the way as the most "Absolution" esque song since, well, the title track from that album. That's good news for the older Muse fans who'll agree with me that "Absolution" is unquestionably their best album, even though it isn't their biggest sounding album necessarily.
As for the modern part, yes, dubstep or at least something akin to dubstep does make an entrance on a couple of tracks. "Follow Me", for instance, sounds otherwise colossal like any other Muse song out there, if it wasn't for the bass vibration/wobble on the background. I don't really understand what makes it necessary to do that, because the song is otherwise a solid progressive rock song precisely in the manner that we like our Muse served in 2012, and it adds absolutely nothing to the song. Of course there's also the fucking idiotic robovoice and wubwubwub and all that crap on the two last songs of the album, "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable" and "The 2nd Law: Isolated System". Adding violins, sociopolitical subliminal messages, and a choral backing doesn't make it any better. Fuck that shit, and fuck the people who defend this idiocy while dissing bands like Attack Attack! elsewhere. Tell me again how this is different just because it happens to be Muse doing it? Hypocrisy at its most blatant.
But again, I need to underline that out of the 13 songs on the album, it isn't a major part and shouldn't prevent you from buying the album and enjoying it thoroughly. However, one issue does stick out and it's the mostly weak middle section of the album starting from around track 7, "Animals". These cuts are still majestic and grand (it is Muse after all), but unfortunately that doesn't automatically mean they are great songs just because they sound massive, at least not in my books. And that's really the major flaw with "The 2nd Law" overall: in the process of completing their quest at writing the biggest songs on the planet, they lose the qualities of what make for a great song. Sure, they are iconic and quintessentially Muse songs, but they are a far cry from the best material this band has written. So despite a strong opening and "Explorers" later on, it is with mixed feelings that I leave "The 2nd Law" behind me. It's not a bad album by any means, but it's probably the weakest the band has put out to date.
Download: Supremacy, Explorers,
For the fans of: Queen, Coldplay, 30 Seconds To Mars, Radiohead
Release date 28.09.2012
Helium 3 / Warner