The new Muse record was never going to be an acoustic bluegrass covers album, was it? Still, the suitably intergalactic trailer for ‘The 2nd Law’ has already divided online opinion, with the bass-heavy clip causing some dubstep refuseniks to break ranks from the band’s legendarily loyal following.
So what have we learned about the album ahead of its September release? The clues come right from the opening title-card, when a disclaimer states: “The following preview has been approved for all audiences by the motion picture association of Helium 3”, with not just a link to the official Muse site but also “he-3.mu”.
We’re guessing that not only could the album be “set” on the distant planet of Helium 3 but also that this album could have the most intricate and comprehensive fictional world built around it since those creepy Michael Fassbender robot trailers and Guy Pearce TED talks for Prometheus.
What is Helium 3 anyway? In reality it’s a much sought-after environmentally-friendly fuel for nuclear fusion reactors which is so hard to find on earth that missions to the moon and deep space to mine it could become a reality. The relevance of that becomes clear in the opening shots of the trailer, as images of oil wells and refineries are inter-cut with panic on the stock market trading floors and petrol prices maxing out at the pump: speaking as a planet, we’re running out of gas.
Next up is a newsreader reciting the same words Matt Bellamy tweeted cryptically a couple of days ago: “All natural and technological processes proceed in such a way that the availability of the remaining energy decreases…”
For those of you who bunked off physics lessons, that’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics (plus a few electronic stutters) – which explains the title of the album. The final word of the speech (and the moment the already much-debated drop comes) is “Unsustainable”, which fans are already speculating is the title of the track.
If you’re thinking that the world running out of resources and having to launch off into space in search of redemption sounds like familiar Muse territory, you’re probably right. ‘The Resistance’’s epic album-closer ‘Exogenesis: Symphony’ explored similar ideas about the fate of humanity before the inevitable eventual heat death of the universe.
What else can we deduce from the clues we’ve had so far? Well, back in November last year Matt Bellamy tweeted that he was starting on a “Christian gangsta rap jazz odyssey, some ambient rebellious dubstep and face melting metal flamenco cowboy psychedelia.” After hearing the snippets of new material, maybe he wasn’t joking.
As for those wub-wub elements, somehow it feels appropriate then that Muse might be embracing dubstep. The snatches we’ve heard so far have already drawn comparisons with Korn’s experiments with Skrillex and the crossovers of bands like Chase And Status and Enter Shikari – though for a group who pride themselves on their live performances it’s going to be tricky thing to incorporate into their stadium shows.