Can You Resist ‘The Resistance’?

Isiah Reyes

Currently one of the most futuristic groups in the world, Brit-rock band Muse, delves into a more classical realm with its fifth studio album, “The Resistance.”

The band’s extravagant rockers continue to change their sound with each successive album by exploring a variety of instruments and styles. In “The Resistance,” the band uses piano and strings and even a full orchestra to a great extent, but there are still few stadium rock songs that should satisfy the average Muse fan.

The 11 tracks on the album take the listener on a sci-fi journey that preaches the oncoming apocalypse and the resistance to stop the inevitable. Fans are already used to the hidden messages and conspiracies that are concealed in almost all of the album’s lyrics.

With new sounds, old themes, and high expectations, does this album live up to the group’s previous highly regarded work?
The first track on the album is “Uprising,” which is also the first single. The song features a very distinct sci-fi sounding synthesizer. It’s a great opener to the album and it sounds like a song Muse would normally undertake (not breaking any new ground yet).

The second song is the album’s title track, “Resistance.” It starts off ominous, building a dark, creepy atmosphere. Then the piano and tribal drums kick in continuing the same feel – but then, completely out of nowhere at exactly 1:40, it busts into the main chorus and one of the catchiest lines is sung:
“It could be wrong/could be wrong/it could be wrong/could be wrong.”

It’s very catchy. Anyone could hum that all day after just one listen. It then goes back to the piano-sounding intro and near the end it dies off. It’s definitely a good song, but not as good as the opener.

The third track, “Undisclosed Desires,” is where the new direction of sound is noticeable. This is the closest song Muse has ever done resembling R&B. There are no guitars present and it sounds as if the hip-hop beat is made from a drum machine. It’s a good chill, mellow song, but not as good as the first two.

The fourth track is “United States of Eurasia.” When it was first heard, everyone was comparing it to Queen, the English rock band of the ’70s and ’80s. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

The song starts off with a classical piano intro, then it copies the “Bohemian Rhapsody” (famous song by Queen) layer of vocals which lead into a very Arabic-sounding transition (sounding like Aladdin), and finally the song reaches its climax which is “Eurasia-sia-sia” being shouted again and again.

Before concluding, there is a cover piano solo of “Collateral Damage” (by Frédéric Chopin, famous French composer from Poland) which is a nice way to bring the song to a close.

Listening to “Eurasia” is definitely an expedition, but listening to the album thus far, the high expectations from most Muse fans are still not being met.

The fifth track is “Guiding Light,” and it’s a ballad that sounds like a national anthem for another country. The tempo is slow, and the bass is repetitive, but on the good side, there’s a guitar solo that redeems this song from the depths of mediocrity.

The next track is “Unnatural Selection,” and it is by far the best song on the album. It begins with a church organ, and then it turns into a solid rock song. There’s a segment in the middle where it slows down for a bit, but no worries – it ends with an addictive metallic sounding riff that is sure to leave the listener’s neck straining from so much head banging.

The following track “MK Ultra” tags into the philosophy of a guitar-driven lead but adds a little electronic sound that makes it stand out and become unique. These two songs remind Muse fans why they became fans in the first place.

The eighth track is “I Belong to You.” The featured piano seems to be jazz-influenced and there is a good rhythm to it for about the first two minutes. Then one of most unpredictable things occurs in the song that has never been done from Muse before: Bellamy proceeds to sing in French.

That’s right, French. The song transitions into a remarkable interlude called “Mon Coeur S’Ouvre A Ta Voix” (“My Heart Opens Itself to Your Voice”) which is an opera-inspired romance song with a foreign feel to it. It almost sounds like Fantasia. Then when that’s over, it returns to the opening rhythm with an added clarinet solo to cap it off.

“I Belong to You” is easily the second best song on the album, but just when you think you have Muse figured out, they again surpass everyone’s expectations by recording their last three songs with the help of an orchestra of about 40 musicians.

The last three songs are “Exogenesis: Symphony Part I (Overture),” “Exogenesis: Symphony Part II (Cross-Pollination)” and “Exogenesis: Symphony Part III (Redemption),” but they should technically be considered one song.

“Overture” sounds like the opening to a Star Wars movie. It tells the story of humanity leaving a destructive Earth behind to populate elsewhere in the universe. Violins start off melodious and the tone makes it seem as if everyone should brace themselves from an oncoming attack of the other kind.

“Cross-Pollination” starts off with a piano solo for about two minutes leading into a dramatic undertaking of an intense sonata seemingly making music during an alien invasion. It gets pretty intense, but toward the end, the battle calms down and it appears as if there are no survivors.

“Redemption” begins with the dust clearing after the war is over – at least that’s what it sounds like. It’s inspirational and the kind of music that plays during the credits of a sad movie. Adding the three pieces together, the result is a concerto of immense magnitude.

The only problem with the symphony is that it seems to be out of place, like it was tacked on at the end. It would have been better if it was released as a separate long play to act as an extension of the album. Fans would be much more appreciative of it that way, as they wouldn’t feel “forced” to listen to classical music.

Looking back at the album, it doesn’t nearly live up to the hype or the level of greatness as previous albums. Some of the songs are a bit bloated and could have been cut short, but other than that, there are no major production faults or any cringe-inducing sequences. It still deserves a listen and it’s a worthy addition to the Muse discography.

There are two versions of the album available: the normal version (only CD) and the limited edition version (CD and DVD). For a few bucks more, you can watch the “making of” DVD, though it’s not really worth it.

Overall, Muse is no longer just a rock band; its range of music has long since surpassed that. People who are biased against other genres of music will probably be disappointed by “The Resistance,” but for the rest of us who aren’t, let’s enjoy what the British band has to offer.

My rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.