Muse – The Resistance

Release Date: September 15, 2009
Reviewed by Evelyn Miska

Muse is, without a doubt, one of the most underappreciated bands to try and break into the U.S. market. They’ve scored some huge successes in Europe and the United Kingdom, but have remained relatively unknown in America. All this could easily change based on the strength of their fifth full-length album. Sad that it took five albums before many American listeners sat up and took notice, since other albums such as Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations were excellent in their own right. Nonetheless, perhaps The Resistance will be the album that changes things.

While the entire album is outstanding, there are a few songs that immediately stand out. “Uprising” opens the album and is one of a number songs that will evoke comparisons to Queen. However, lest listeners think this is just Muse rehashing music that’s already been done, they do what the band is superb at and uses these other influences as a starting point for their own creativity. “Uprising” has an excellent rhythm that propels listeners along, just enough nostalgia isnpired by the keyboards and, of course, Matthew Bellamy’s vocals. This is a song that will not only intrigue listeners, it will grab them and yank them into the rest of the album.

“Resistance” is another exceptional track with that sort of huge sound perfect for filling arenas. Again, Bellamy’s vocals pair well with the rest of the song, but it is the combination of keyboards, synthesizers and terrific guitar riffs that pull the song together. Epic in scope and sound, it just makes listeners want to hear the song live and loud. “Undisclosed Desires” takes a completely different approach and is a bit less of a twist on arena rock. Sounding more like early Depeche Mode, the song is more dance-oriented and more electronically based than other tracks but adds some variety and shows that Muse is capable of writing a huge variety of songs using many different influences.

“United States of Eurasia (+ Collateral Damage)” gets back to the epic feel and sound as found on “Resistance”. Beginning with a simple piano melody, the song seems innocuous enough, but as the song shifts into a Queen-like chorus with tight harmonies, it becomes clear this isn’t just another ballad. The song builds to a peak as it twists around Bellamy’s vocals, middle Eastern sounding piano and string melodies and a driving drum rhythm. The song ends with a variation called “Collateral Damage” which is based in part on Chopin’s Nocturne In E-Flat Major, Op. 9 No. 2. While the end may seem a bit odd, it won’t be much of a surprise to long-time Muse fans as the band has taught their listenrs to expect the unexpected.

“Exogenesis” is broken into three parts and rightfully described in the song title as being a symphony. The beginning of the Prelude truly has that huge, dramatic feel of a classical opera or symphony and it is easy to see why much of the album’s space is dedicated to these tracks. Close to the two-minute mark the song begins to incorporate vocals and this is a place where Bellamy’s falsetto fits perfectly. The layers and gradual crescendo of the three pieces of this one song might seem odd on a rock album but, somehow, Muse gets it to work and work brilliantly.

It would be a real shame if this album doesn’t finally get Muse noticed more in the United States, as The Resistance is a clever, masterful and intelligent recording. The scope of these songs is huge, ebbing and flowing perfectly, carefully balancing unique influences and showing these musicians at their best. There is no doubt that this is one of the best albums of 2009.


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