muse the resistance
  • FRIDAY, OCTOBER 09, 2009

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Three years ago, Black Holes & Revelations solidified the Muse transformation from alt-core offshoot to peak-topping, synthesized glamor. "Knights Of Cydonia" became an instant classic, albeit borderline goofy, and the Middle-Eastern flair creeping through the Queen harmonies broke the surface. In short, Muse reached it's endgame: settling on a sound and a goal, treading a dangerous line between impression and humor, and succeeding in mainstream attention across continents. Now what?

Enter The Resistance, perhaps a nod to resisting it's own complacency in the realm of pseudo-infamous prog rockers. The rock radio has been ruled by The Killers and company of our day, leaving Muse to gather it's things in a corner, still pondering the fade-to-black, post "Time Is Running Out." There are hints of Absolution; Muse continues it's journey towards grandiosity with the epic-reaching space rock smeared across The Resistance, an album which contains multiple personalities of the band; climactic moments, somber moments, and even something billed as a "symphony." Now it is time for us to decide if it is worth the effort.

Claims that Resistance was going to be an "electronic" album (different from previous work in some way) seem to now fall on deaf ears. From the title track's soaring chorus, to the pensive rhythm of "Undisclosed Desires," each effort mirrors the repertoire we've already come to know.First track "United States Of Eurasia" delivers on the assumption that Muse has found it's footing in it's sound; the piano riff, harmonies, string licks, and political overtones are all part of the big picture. And "Uprising" has the solid back-beat and bass driven punch that Muse almost has a patent on, and the brash revolutionary tone of songs about victory over tyranny still play well within this lens. Sadly, the current climate of music will most likely dismiss this as a caricature of progressive rock (and from what I've read, it already has). The retrospective nature of referencing it's earlier material with somewhat inferior tracks is not a credit to their ingenuity (or the best use of it). It is a nod to their desire to continue to create songs that sound like Muse, but not so much so that it is self-plagerization.

However: praise where praise is due. Muse did happen to do something different here, and I'm of course talking about the three part super-massive "Exogenisis Symphony." Over forty musicians lent their talents to the sprawling epic, which seems to embody the essence of Muse's melodic preoccupations, without sounding like an orchestrated version of anything before it; an attempt at something more progressive than anything since Black Holes. If this is the true Resistance, "Exogenisis" is the attack on the Death Star; small, calculated, and almost hopeless—that is, until it actually works. The three-part series is enough to generate an interest in the symphonic preocupations of a band that is sometimes too big-picture for it's own good. Finally, Muse figured out a way to properly label and execute their efforts. I look forward to their first movie score. -joe puglisi
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