Written By: Noam Asulin
Album review - Muse - Will of the People
Release date - 26.8.2022
Record company - Warner Brothers
Genre - Alternative Rock / Multi-Genre
To review a "Muse" album is a bit of a challenge if only because every "Muse" album is a whole world. There is always something unusual hiding there that you least expect.
I don't think it's necessary to introduce this amazing band, but nevertheless, "Muse" comes from Teignmouth, Devon in England and was formed in 1994. It is a power trio that includes Matt Bellamy (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Chris Wolstenholme (bass) and Dominic Howard (drums). To date "Muse" released nine studio albums, with the first album "Showbiz" released in 1999. An interesting anecdote is that Chris was originally a drummer, but since Dominic was already in the band and took the position of drummer, Chris learned to play bass.
The band's new album was produced by the members of the band and was defined by them as "a greatest hits album – of new songs". It was written in response to their label's request to release a "greatest hits" album, which the band refused to do, unless they did it their way. According to Matt Bellamy, the result was a montage of the best of "Muse". A new version of all types of genres that the band touched on in the past.
Starting with their seventh album "Drones" released in 2015, the band took a different direction in regards to the theme of the album. Each album included a central theme, around which the songs revolved. For example, in "Drones" the theme was "dehumanization of modern warfare" and in the album "Simulation Theory" it was "science fiction and futurism".
The album "Will of the People" also revolves around a central theme and whose lyrics are influenced by the uncertainty and stability in the world. According to the members of "Muse", the Western world and nature, which until now lived in symbiosis for many years, are threatened and therefore an urgent call for political action is required to save the world.
Like its predecessor "Simulation Theory", the new album mix electronic sound with live instruments of guitars, bass and drums. In my opinion, in "Will of the People" the band tried to return to the roots of rock sound that characterized it at the beginning, giving a little bit less room for "computer" sound, although here too, the presence of electronic and industrial sound is noticeable.
The opening track "Will Of The People" is a defiant glam rock song, inspired by the chaos and protests we've seen around the world recently. Epidemic, wars (even in Europe), demonstrations and riots, attempted uprisings, natural disasters and destabilization of the world order. Although the theme and pattern of the song is somewhat reminiscent of "Uprising" from 2009, "Will Of The People" is in my opinion one of the weakest songs on the album. Repeating the phrase "Will of the people" is quite annoying to me and doesn't really lead anywhere. The verses are the strongest part of the song.
The next track, "Compliance" is a sort of dystopian synth-rock song. It begins with the 1980s sound of a synthesizer and with lyrics that talk about life in an oppressive society. A stronger being than us, trying to lure the compliance of the vulnerable with promises of security and reassurance ("Fall into line, you will do as you're told"). As mentioned, these lyrics are not surprising, because this is the band's line since "Drones". The verses have a simply amazing baseline by Chris and it really adds to the song.
The next song "Liberation" also continues in this line ("We intend to erase your place in history"). This song takes a more classical direction that is very reminiscent of "The Resistance" and features piano and multiple vocal layers and harmonies by Matt Bellamy, giving a serious vibe of a song from "Queen's" repertoire. Despite the references to this great band, it's still an amazing and mesmerizing show (especially Bellamy's), that gives me chills every time I listen to it.
This album has some of the heaviest songs of "Muse", for example, the first single released from it "Won’t Stand Down" which has a fast tempo, heavy riff and screams, and "Kill Or Be Killed" which is also very kicking and metal driven. In my opinion "Kill Or Be Killed" gives a small taste of the old "Muse" from 20 years ago, with a sound that is very reminiscent of songs from "Absolution". It is interesting to note, that on this album the drummer Dominic Howard experiments, for the first time, with double bass, something that only adds to the feeling that "Muse" intended to take some of the songs on this album in a slightly more "heavy" direction.
The fifth track "Ghosts" is a sweet ballad, but it's nothing short of amazing in my eyes. It rests on the exciting piano playing and amazing vocal ability of Matt Bellamy. If we have already mentioned Matt, then he sounds wonderful throughout the album and it seems that in each song we get a different color and a different tone of voice from him.
I must mention that on the first listens to the eighth and ninth tracks, "Verona" and "Euphoria" respectively, I felt that they were the weakest tracks on the album. But after repeated listening, my opinion changed and I think these are wonderful songs that also remind me of "The Resistance".
The closing track "We Are Fucking Fucked" continues the kicking and excellent line of other songs on the album. This song is a kind of "doomsday vision" that tries to show that our fate is decided. ("The black vacuum of the universe, it was designed to swallow us whole").
Before ending, I must refer to the fifth single from the album called "You Make Me Feel Like It's Halloween". This single made trying to define the style of this album irrelevant. This song is another proof that "Muse" never ceases to surprise, and even more so. It proves that no matter how prepared you are for their surprises, you'll still be shocked, because you really haven't heard a single like this before... This song combines "Somebody's Watching Me" by "Rockwell" with "People Are People" by "Depeche Mode", with sounds of synthesizers and computer effects from the 1980s, a guitar solo that managed to bring Prince back to life for a few seconds... and a music video full of horror movie montages... simply awesome!
In conclusion, the ninth album by "Muse" is a wonderful and diverse album. It will remind you of the old "Muse" from twenty years ago, but it does give a taste of the older repertoire such as "Absolution" and "The Resistance". I hold the opinion that a band should develop and experiment, as long as it does not sell its soul to the wishes and dictates of the record companies. In this case, "Muse" managed to balance what was expected of them with their musical ambitions. They managed to present different and varied music material, some would say even excessively, so that surely each of the band's fans will be able to find at least one song that will speak to them. Therefore, even if you miss the old "Muse", give this album a chance and come with an open mind, I'm sure you can find some moments of pleasure in it.
The big problem with this album lies solely in its length. With ten songs and only 37 minutes of music, there is nothing left but to want more.