Muse - The Resistance, Album Review


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The Resistance


Warner Bros.
out September 14th

[Rating Scale]


There has been so much said about this album. To get this right took a while; many listens and much contemplation.

Most feel that Muse is an entity not to be ignored or hastily scrutinized. Everyone acknowledges that they managed to carve a size-able niche for themselves in the collective consciousness of millions of fans around the globe, despite the fact that they seem to have been virtually ignored here in America. And, much like Kings Of Leon's recent successful release Only By the Night, Muse's intentions with their latest album, The Resistance, might be intended to permanently inject themselves into the American pop culture stream. It's very hard to believe that not many of my fellow countrymen are aware of this band or their catalogue of inspired rock anthems. To recall them only for a song on the Twilight Soundtrack ("Supermassive Black Hole") is utter insanity after five full length albums, numerous accolades, and hundreds of sold-out, wildly entertaining hi-calibre live shows. And yet, it seems as if teenagers in the Stephanie Meyers' Age of Popularity by Vampire Association are among that clueless bunch.

Furthermore, labeling the British three-piece a 'poor man's Radiohead' or (lead vocalist, pianist, guitarist) Matthew Bellamy a 'Freddy Mercury rip-off' is too easy. Those things are certainly obvious, though not necessarily bad. But Muse is so much more than who they take their cues from. They bring with them a talent for knowing how to strike a chord using all inclusive, eclectic combinations of rock n' roll, classical, r&b and electronica that resonates in the hearts and minds of a generation. From 1999's Showbiz on, Muse has carefully crafted and perfected their opulent sound; what was once a raw release of angst through artistry so palpable, it was almost too chaotic to corral in order to project a clear message. The message, however, became clearer with releases of Origin of Symmetry, Absolution, and particularly Black Holes and Revelations. The message was rebellion. Freedom. Individualism. Sometimes, in the most extreme cases, even anti-government.

Their music is designed around the spirit of performance. Muse writes music for the masses.

The Resistance is a continuation of that tradition. It is, essentially, a collection of rock opera anthems composed for stadiums and arena's filled to capacity, ready to soak up the message. Not perfect in any shape or form, or even as affective as Black Holes and Revelations, The Resistance is still arguably one of the best, though certainly flawed, albums I've heard this year.

"Uprising" has to be one of the most stirring call to arms Muse has ever produced. It's also a hell of a way to open the eleven track LP. It's the loudest and most accessible, with a dance rock undertone complimented perfectly by Christopher Wolstenholme on bass and Dominic Howard on drums. Matthew's electrifying guitar and strong insistent vocals crawl their way around hand claps and war cries that incite chills at volume max. Or better yet, if experienced, as is meant, stood amongst the paranoid youth advancing en mass, flashing lights, raised fists, and stomping feet. A recital of galvanizing lyrics such as: "They will not force us. They will stop degrading us. They will not control us. We will be victorious." sure to pass the lips of the worshiping base with reverent fervor. No one even sure who 'they' are, but convinced whole-heartedly that we are 'us' and a part of the movement. It's the most confrontational track on the album.

"Unclosed Desires", however, is an r&b throwaway included that falls short of whatever it was they were going for, if anything at all. It's dark sexual undertones probably make it one of those prime picks for another Twilight movie score. It has emo vampire loving sadist written all over it. It seems slightly out of place among sweeping ballads like "Guiding Light" and "I Belong To You", the latter even seeing Bellamy speaking French.

Everything else spends it's time floating in between the inventive, romantic and theatrical, to the mediocre and underwhelming. The harmonies, piano tinkling, and vocal crooning remain on par technically throughout. This band's talent has not been dulled or misguided after fifteen years. If anything, it's been sharpened and focused. They take a lot of risk here, many of which pay off.

Including "United States of Eurasia (Collateral Damage)", which is exactly what everyone says it is. But echoes of Queen aside, it's also the most ambitious piece on The Resistance. Bellamy boldly tackles that 'one nation' conspiracy with talk of 'wars that can't be won' and being 'punished for unproven crimes'. It's worldly and melodramatic. Over the top in many ways, but one cannot help but picture the spectacle it would present to concert goers. The three part orchestral journey we are consequently taken on with "Exogenesus: Symphony" could stand completely alone. Placed as it it though, quite strategically at album's end, it completely changes the direction from 'rise against the oppressive machine', to 'rejoice, stand apart and reinvent'.

However you lean on this, having listened to it one or many times, one thing is certain: The Resistance has effectively worked Muse's musically experimental dialogue back into the populous. They've been around, they'll be around, and they will continue to take risks. Criticism and accusatory comparison will likely fall deaf on the ears of the loyal resistance.

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The Resistance - Muse