The 2nd Law
$9.99; Rating: ****
With each successive album,British band Muse transports one from a fantasy world created by their previous productions to an entirely new world with its own state of unrest,which manifests in intense bass lines and operatic vocals. Origin of Symmetry (2001) was about evolution of technology; Black Holes and Revelations (2006) talked of catastrophic war; Absolution (2003) dealt with revolution and a new world order. The release of The 2nd Law,on October 1,was much anticipated,especially when frontman Matthew Bellamy tweeted that the album is their first Christian gangsta rap jazz odyssey,with some ambient rebellious dubstep and face melting metal flamenco cowboy psychedelia.
The 2nd Law is the chaos that Muse naturally revels in,and brilliantly executes. It comes with a reference to the second law of thermodynamics,a process by which energy in an isolated system goes on from being concentrated,to being more dispersed,wasted,and eventually rendered useless. The first track,Supremacy,introduces one,with Muse-esque heavy instruments,to the metaphorical process: Greatness dies,unsung and lost,invisible to history.
Madness comes next. A techno rock-dubstep love song,it surprises listeners with Bellamys soothing voice,complemented with slick beats and no gyrating bass lines. Survival,on the other hand,has an infectious,feverish energy and revels in ostentatious orchestration meant for performance at a proscenium.
Panic Station is a a very 90s funk piece,with high-pitched oohs and aahs and violent lyrics,for which the band has received a parental advisory label a first for it. Next,Follow Me,written by Bellamy for his newborn,starts with the babys heartbeat with dubstep,and crosses over to electronica.
The last two ideologically conjoined pieces,The 2nd Law:Unsustainable and The 2nd Law: Isolation System,form a chaotic narrative of the second law of thermodynamics,with Thom Yorke-like techno and an apocalyptic end.
If anyone doubted the kind of musical stew that would come out of mixing diverse genres,Muse has set the record straight. The pieces are frayed and almost fettered by various elements,but there is a certain Muse-like order in all that chaos. The 2nd Law may lack the intensity of Muses best album yet,Absolution,but is,nevertheless,hugely entertaining. Fans will not be disappointed.