Album Review: Muse – The 2nd Law

[Warner; 2012]

After The Resistance sparked a widespread political upheaval resulting ultimately in the dissolution of the Orwellian mega-state of the United States of Eurasia (founded secretly in 2002, six months after the US government successfully planned and carried out the September 11 attacks,) many must have felt that Muse’s work was done. With the governments of the first world entirely reformed, how could there have been anything left to accomplish for the revolutionary band, whose eye-opening anthem “Uprising” now ranked alongside “The Times They Are A-Changing” in the hallowed halls of protest songs? Their illustrious composer and singer Matthew Bellamy, however, was far from finished. With throngs of devotees in attendance, Bellamy announced at a sold-out concert the target of The 2nd Law, his band’s next manifesto: Corporations, the most evil entities in the world behind first-world democracies.

“I still read a lot about… the influence of corporations,” Bellamy declared to the crowd at US Cellular Field, “but I make sure I’m reading from credible sources.” Even the dimmest flicker of doubt the crowd might have had regarding Bellamy’s authority on the subject of corporations was at that moment extinguished. Then, with a wave of Bellamy’s hand, a hush fell over the crowd, and the band launched into The 2nd Law. The onlookers stood, receptive, waiting to hear the latest message from the Resistance leaders who had saved them from a secret totalitarian government they did not even know existed, as a full orchestra bowed out the magnanimous strains of “Supremacy.” “Wake to see / your true emancipation is a fantasy,” Bellamy sang. The crowd stood at attention, desirous to know what he meant. He made mention of “embedded spies, brainwashing our children to be mean.” Oh, no! Somebody is brainwashing our children. Could it be corporations? “The time, it has come, to destroy your supremacy!” Bellamy wailed in a falsetto that shattered the glasses of every CEO in the city.

The miracles did not stop there. On “Madness,” a rosy pallor overcame the crowd as they realized they had fallen in love with Matthew Bellamy. “I have finally seen the light,” he proclaimed, as concertgoers in the front row began to tear feverishly at his clothes. Michael Jackson came back from the dead to join Bellamy on “Panic Station,” honored beyond belief to receive a tribute from Muse. Freddie Mercury did the same during “Survival,” after which he kissed Bellamy’s feet and announced that “Survival” shall be played instead of “We Will Rock You” at sporting events the world over, as it outmatched the classic Queen anthem in every respect. Then, on “Follow Me,” Matt Bellamy rose into the air. “Follow me, and I will not desert you,” Bellamy intoned, sprouting angel’s wings as he ascended. Bono appeared from the crowd and laid his sunglasses on the ground before the floating Bellamy, whose head was now encircled by a halo of the purest light ever to shine. The crowd roared with adulation. Some bent down to kiss the ground. Some spoke in tongues. Muse would truly show us The Way from corporate evil.

When it seemed like the day had been won, a giant upside-down pyramid spun capitalistically downward toward drummer Dom Howard during “Animals.” The corporations were attacking! A gasp of horror went up from the crowd as the pyramid turned inside out and swallowed Dom and his drumset whole. Horror turned to awestruck disbelief when (and I wish I’d made this part up) Dom emerged as a ninja and fought off an army of corrupt businessmen. Whenever a businessman went down, a rapturous cheer went up. All the while, Bellamy damned the businessmen with his highly original and non-clichéd brand of vitriol that had once toppled the governments of the first world.

Bellamy then looked to the stars for “Explorers,” seeking a heaven for himself and his kind, untouched by corporate influence and unreachable by evil, spinning pyramids of businessmen. Oh yes, the crowd thought, a world without corporations and all the evil stuff they do! “Run away and take me with you,” exclaimed Christopher Wolstenholme on “Save Me,” taking the words from the mouth of everyone present. Save us, Bellamy! Save us, Muse! “Hold my head up high, and help me to survive,” Wolstenholme pleaded again on “Liquid State.” Shafts of light shone down from above, illuminating Bellamy in saintly fashion. He had ascended from rock god to something beyond: a rock titan. Mattlas, they could call him, for the new world rested upon his very shoulders.

Mattlas raised his hand to call for silence, before delivering his ultimate indictment: A symphony in two movements called “The 2nd Law.” Having ascended to Titanhood, he could not risk speaking without destroying his followers with his voice’s beauty, so he called upon a credible source to be his voice: “In all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves an isolated system, the entropy of that system increases,” the Metatron explained, “New energy cannot be created and high grade energy is being destroyed. An economy based on endless growth is unsustainable.” Then Bellamy dropped a bass beat so deadly that the first four rows had to be hospitalized. The rest of the crowd convulsed with the Holy Spirit. Then, suddenly, another voice spoke up. “Hold on a minute!” it said. Everything went silent. Who dares interrupt Mattlas?

“First of all,” the unholy voice said, “economies only operate under the second law of thermodynamics to the extent that humanity operates under that law, so your analogy is invalid. Second of all, more entropy is created by the formation of stars than has been created by the whole of humanity, so there’s no urgency to the fact that an isolated system under the laws of thermodynamics is unsustainable. I don’t see why we should feel afraid of corporations on these grounds. Frankly, I fail to see why we should listen to any of this at all.” There was a long pause. A cricket chirped. A tumbleweed rolled by. Then someone in the crowd yelled “Unsustainable!” The music resumed, and the mass of acolytes descended upon the detractor, eviscerating him for his blasphemy, but that blood wasn’t enough. As the band continued into the second part of the “2nd Law” suite, the crowd rioted in the streets, forced CEOs out of their penthouses, and threw Molotov cocktails through the windows of the Stock Exchange. Industrial plants whose carbon emissions once choked the skies were razed to the ground. The Corporatocracy was over, and the world had Mattlas and Muse to thank.

A gathering of angels flew down and shed tears of the holiest water at the beautiful sight, as the final note of The 2nd Law resonated outward and upward, through the sky, higher and higher, up past the atmosphere, finally through the glass of a snow globe in the hand of a transfixed Matt Bellamy, backstage before a performance.

“I don’t understand this thing, Dom,” said Christopher Wolstenholme, “here’s our bandmate. I talk to him. I don’t know if he can hear me, because he sits there, all day long, in his own world, staring at that toy.”

“I wonder what he’s thinking about,” said Dom.