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Review

Alternative British rock band recapture their sound with 21st century symphony

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September 18, 2009

British Alt-Rock trio Muse have produced a thing of incredible beauty with their latest release, The Resistance. After capturing the public eye way back in 2003 with their third album, Absolution, they found themselves firmly entrenched in the American popular consciousness by 2008, a journey which included an appearance on Guitar Hero: Legends of Rock and honorary degrees from the University of Plymouth.

Impossible to categorize into a single genre, The Devon-based group’s fifth studio album is a stratospheric space-opera, infused with both larger-than-life electro-rock guitar strokes and soothing, melodic keyboard overtures. Conjuring up an amalgam of conflicting sounds results in an overwhelming juggernaut that doesn’t take its foot off the gas from start-to-finish.

They literally throw everything at the wall, and surprisingly most of it sticks.

The first track, “Uprising,” launches the record in typical Muse fashion. The rapid, synthlaced beat and pulsating discotheque bass that opens the song is soon interjected by frontman Matthew Bellamy’s soaring falsetto. “Rise up and take the power back/ It’s time the fat cats had a heart attack,” he chants rhythmically.

“The United States of Eurasia,” a reference to the Orwellian dystopia of 1984, is perhaps the most diverse and aesthetically beautiful single track to be found on The Resistance. Listeners will immediately draw obvious comparisons to Queen.

Complicated and intricate piano medleys bookend the ascending emotional onslaught that provides the meat of the track. The atmospheric musical blast is balanced by the unsettling and ominous lyrical content: “You and me fall in line / To be punished for unproven crimes / And we know that there is no one we can trust / Our ancient heroes they are turning to dust,” Bellamy wails, channeling a haunted image of Freddie Mercury.

The very next song, “Guiding Light,” is a different being altogether. The steady lyrics reveal a heartfelt confession of love, punctuated by a sharp solo that would make Brian May proud.

The trajectory of the record almost defies human logic, bursting through the gates of convention and entering the uncharted territory that can only be reached through extraordinary creative potential. With each successive album, the Muse has seemingly attempted to go bigger and bigger, and it appears that they have finally hit their creative zenith, compressing an entire discography of variety into fifty glitz-filled minutes.

Resistance concludes with the most unique and adventurous, endeavor of the band’s career, a three-part symphony (Entitled “Overture,” “Cross-Pollination” and “Redemption) Bellamy said he has spent many years arranging completely by himself.

“A large percentage of the composition is orchestral,” he described in 2008. “I have never wanted to collaborate with a string arranger as they make it ‘theirs.’”

A roller coaster in terms of both style and pace, the Symphony begins with more sweeping keyboard arpeggios and piercing guitar licks, before taking on a much more classic feel in “Cross Pollination,” which creates a perfect synthesis between past and present.

The magnificent “Exogenesis” finally provides a conclusion to the mind-bending journey that is The Resistance. Steady drums, vibrant strings and a frenetic guitar riff gradually build toward a serene, peaceful climax-a subtle and beautiful way to end a flawless album.

Andrew Phelps is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.