Friday, September 25, 2009

Album Review: Muse - The Resistance (5/5)


I've found my fourth major contender for album of the year (which now only 5 and selected 4.5 star reviews can achieve) following India.Arie's Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics, Dave Matthews Band's Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King and Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown. Muse have always been that type of band whom I know exist but haven't bothered to pay attention. In 2006 they delivered one of the best albums of the year with, Black Holes and Revelations but it wasn't until my purchasing of the Twilight soundtrack that I realized how much I actually liked them due to their popular electrifying single "Supermassive Black Hole."

I've recently given, Black Holes and Revelations, a good listen-through and I definitely would bestow the title masterpiece upon it; an enjoyable restrained dramatic masterpiece. To say, The Resistance, follows up well would be an understatement--It's rare that I would enjoy a symphonic/alternative rock album so excessively as that genre isn't necessarily my strong suit, although there are exceptions (Kings of Leon's Only By the Night and 3 of 4 Coldplay albums, which have all been on repeat on my iPod for a considerable amount of time). The Resistance, is an impulsive and interesting set of songs; just one of the reasons why I'm so drawn to it. "Uprising," the groups third top 10 hit, is a sensational opener--clobbering with synths, electronic guitars and drums fronted by Matthew Bellamy's intense vocals.

Title track "Resistance" heads a prodigious set of harmonies soaring behind the tightly composed acquisition of rapid drums and punching strings. Ballemy and the backup singers both sound good on the evenly sung chorus, I like the double repetition of: "Could be wrong, could be wrong" as Ballemy adds another segment each time as his layered harmonious vocals escalates behind. This was an intital favorite. Next up is the otherworldly "Undisclosed Desires" the first slow song of the album, providing various soundscapes, fixed with an appealing bassline which supports the admirable burst of syths and strings. The chorus is haunting, but the rendering combination of drums, synth and light strings convey a slight radio friendly appeal, it kind of sounds like Lady GaGa's "Paparazzi" but more stripped down and less poppy--It's a strange comparison, I know, Lady GaGa + Muse, but the two songs do dispense some similarities.

The outlandishly titled "United States of Eurasia [+Collateral Damage]" begins with deep piano chords, before it ascends into a Queen esque composition, where the orchestration picks up and drums come into play and the piano chords become even deeper as Bellamy belts and stylishly repeats the lyric ("Unless we do as we're told"). This is a fantastic song and the harmonies are just as commendable as some of the other tracks, it's possibly my favorite track on here (at the moment--I've been through quite a few over the last couple of days). The slow burning atmospheric "Guiding Light" is another personal favorite, It starts of raw and stripped down--hard hitting drums and a running light electronic guitar before it picks up greatly for the fantastic guitar solo. It's pretty amazing--I could imagine the perfect '80s styled 'performance' video, where a man in leotard and sweaty vest with a ribbon tied around his head comes out and goes crazy with an electronic guitar.

Soaring "Unnatural Selection" portrays a starling production--melodically tied with tastefully structured drums and raging electronic guitars, building up to that beatitude closing on the chorus, which features energetic chanting as Ballemy passionately belts: ("I want the truth.") and if 6 solid songs in a row wasn't good enough, the album continues to shine as it precedes into its second half, which is just as compelling as the first to my delight. "MK Ultra" hits hard with penetrating drums, running consistently throughout the song--the melodies are awesome, they sound so good, especially the layered effect on the lyric ("we're breaking through.") Or is this my favorite track on here? It's unbelievably hard to choose.

The last part of the album is clunky in a good way. The aptly titled "I Belong to You [+Mon Coeur S'Ouvre A Ta Voix]" is surprisingly less epic that you would expect (mostly because of the title) It's possibly the albums most solid moment out of the first 7 tracks. It depicts lenient piano keys as well as consistent drums--It enters poppy territory, it sounds very radio friendly to me (but that's just me). It may not be as dramatic as some of the previous tracks, but it works well and keeps the album on its toes and aware and you just can't argue with that. The three part Exogenesis series, which has to be among the most extravagant pieces of music I've ever heard. It's aesthetic all around--so much feeling and eagerness. First up is "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 [Overture]" which begins with a glossy orchestration, violins intact as drums become the centrepoint and the violins become more haunting.

"Exogenesis: Symphony Part 2 [Cross-pollination]" incorporates a nice piano keys enlightened start before breaking into heavy electronic guitars and drums. Lastly, "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 [Redemption]" ends the album, with an atmospheric, whimsical type feeling--angelic piano keys and a soaring orchestra, still keeping those drums intact. The artistry on these tracks are amazing, they give me goosebumps.

The Resistance, is a fantastic album--solid, robust and just tastefully creative. I was a tiny bit sad there was no "Supermassive Black Hole" the song that made me want to find out more about the band, that's more than ok--as delivering such an outstanding piece of work makes up for it. Just a couple months ago I thought Dave Matthews Band's Groo Grux King was the best alternative/rock (symphonic) album of the year--oh, how opinions have changed.

Best: United States Of Eurasia [+Collateral Damage], Uprising, MK Ultra, Guiding Light, Undisclosed Desires, I Belong To You [+Mon Coeur S'Ouvre A Ta Voix], Exogenesis: Symphony, Three part series.

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