Intergalactic rockers return with a typically outlandish sixth album.
Ian Winwood 2012
One of the most remarkable characteristics regarding Muse, themselves an entirely remarkable band, is the sheer speed at which many of their songs are recognised as being classic compositions of the grandest order. A track like 2006’s exquisitely bonkers Knights of Cydonia could only have been of their making. So it comes as no surprise that The 2nd Law takes no time at all to make its presence felt.
What is surprising, though, is that the band that so often would be Queen begins like Led Zeppelin. The swaggering Kashmir-style six-shooter riff of Supremacy is not only the sonic equivalent of a band bursting through the doors of a saloon bar and stopping the clientele dead; it also affirms that Matt Bellamy is a master of the guitar in the order of Metallica’s James Hetfield or AC/DC’s Malcolm Young.
The array of musical styles on show across The 2nd Law means that, like many of this band’s past albums, it doesn’t entirely coalesce into a seamless collection of songs. Panic Station borrows from both Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, without ever attaining the majesty of either tune. But when this album works, it works well.
Survival, an official song of the 2012 Olympic Games, rides emphatic thumps, whereas Liquid State, one of two tracks penned by bassist Chris Wolstenholme, adopts a fluid groove. Closer The 2nd Law: Isolated System manages to unsettle the listener by use of a searching piano motif, reminiscent of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, famously heard in The Exorcist.
This may be Muse’s sixth studio album, but throughout the group present themselves in any guise they please. Where they go from here is anyone’s guess. But as it stands, this is a more than satisfying exploration into the unknown and more.