Member No.: 3
Joined: 16-May 11
Mainstream prog rock isn't exactly a genre that I'm well versed on. Pink Floyd, and a few other notables, are virtually the only bands that have prog aesthetics that I especially "love". However, I do listen to a variety of bands that, while aren't entirely prog, have alot of prog influences in them.
La Dispute is one of those bands. Rather than being prog, it's more of a mixture. Now that I mention it, I listen to alot of bands that mix genres up like this; I mean, alot of people listen to bands like these, because bands tend to mix styles. However, it isn't as selfevident as it is in La Dispute, and related bands. This is because they mix the genres so effortlessly and cleanly that they blend together, and morph into something entirely unique.
La Dispute mix up post hardcore, spoken word, emo*, and elements of blues, melodic hardcore, screamo, and metalcore interspersed throughout.
* rather than think Fall Out Boy and P!ATD(which aren't even proper emo at all might I add), think Fugazi or Rites of Spring(if not aware of these bands, remedy that quickly, please).
And all of this is defined by the most unique vocals you will ever hear. There have been other bands with spoken words vocals (in fact, another band I'm quite fond of, and a band that has noticeably influenced La Dispute profoundly, mewithoutYou, is a master of that style of vocals). But this band is entirely new, and different.
Jordan Dreyer, the vocalist of this band, isn't simply a singer. He's an actor. They aren't simply "playing" songs; they're acting out stories and narratives through their music. I'm sorry, but this is new. This is a thing that hasn't been done before, and even if it has, it hasn't been mastered to a degree such as this band has on this album.
The vocals are shouted, stuttered, spoken, and screamed to get points across. You can feel every ounce of emotion pushed through the music. This album produces moments of actual suspense through the songs. If you're listening to these songs properly, you can actually visualize the situations clearly. You can do that for normal songs, but never has it any image been produced by a song this clear. Every word, ever strum, ever bang, ever note, has a purpose on this album.
The lyrics are the point. The music is great, exceptional, but the lyrics are what shines through on each and every song. These lyrics, are the kind of lyrics I adore. The level of quality these lyrics I have are what I look for in bands, and hardly ever find. Jordan Dreyer, not only an actor, is a poet, plain and simply.
Unfortunately, from the prog I've listened to, the lyrics aren't exactly the high point of it at all. Musical concepts are usually what those bands focus on, rather than lyrical concepts. And I'll probably get shunned for this, but lyrics will always win out in the end for me.
Also, while I'm criticizing prog without any basis of thought on it(SO DON'T GET MAD IF I GET SOMETHING WRONG), I've noticed that most vocals are a bit too theatrical too me; too hammy, in many cases. La Dispute's vocals, on the other hand, are a bit more... I'm not sure how to describe it. I'll get into argument more as this walkthrough goes along.
Yeah, a walkthrough. this is just the introduction to what I think of the band and the album. I'll be going through this album track by track over the next couple of days, dissecting each and every single concept and lyric the track has to offer.
This band didn't make me feel like "Oh, I relate" by, yknow, kinda being really vague about the situations it discusses, it made me feel like "Oh, I understand", because it's so specific, and so detailed.
There are bridges over rivers. There are moments of collapse. There are drivers with their feet on the glass. You can kick but you can’t get out. There is history in the Rooms of the House.
Member No.: 3
Joined: 16-May 11
Let's begin with the first track of the album, a Departure. For this track and all the other tracks, I will be examining the lyrics line by line, and discussing how those lyrics, the vocals, and the music correlate with each other, and how they relate to the overall theme of the album.
a Departure begins with a dirty sound. Like, murky. And a bit of intrigue as well. In the background, the instruments stutter around, in a misty dreamlike ecstasy. It feels mystic.
And then the music kicks in and you can tell that this isn't really a dream, but a nightmare. This is the night at its worse. This is the dark street outside of your window, this is the evading shadows around the streetlights out there; this is the dark wilderness meeting you, in your suburban, modernized home.
A voice begins to shout in the background. He says:
To -----, for everything.
(to scratched out, for everything)
Basically, he's setting this up as if this is a letter, or a foreword. You will see this pattern in the other "intermission" tracks, which all begin with "a" (a Depature, a Letter, a Poem, a Broken Jar). These tracks set up each part of the album, setting up lyrical themes and tying it all together. a Depature sets up not only the first part of songs, but the entire album as well. I'll get into that later in the song.
So, it's established that the narrator is sending this to someone. This is elaborated upon with more of the lyrics, as his voice bounds into the foreground.
Night fell on me writing this and I ran out of paper so I crossed the name out at the top of the page. Not sure why I’m even writing this. But I guess it feels right. It sort of feels like I have to-like an exorcism.
Now, it's established that the name is to someone important; this "someone" will be important in understanding exactly why the narrator is weaving this album together.
I guess that makes me sound crazy but that’s alright. Lately I feel like I might be, not that I’ve heard any voices or anything. Just like that everyday kind, where you forget things you shouldn’t and you think too much about death.
Another subject is established; the growing disturbance in the character. Due to death. He's thinking too much about it. I wonder why?
Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Or maybe you would have known? Or had known? Is it once knew? I don’t know what tense to use.
I know I never used to feel like this. I used to never think of death or hear voices. I used to feel like everything was perfectly in order, a normal life, but I guess then came a Departure.
That I know you understand (or would’ve understood?). I guess things changed after that, and I’m mostly scared now.
The character's disturbance is a recent thing, that was clearly caused by some sort of internal conflict caused by something relating to a dark path he was forced down; a Departure from his normal life.
But it’s there in the stories, or whatever they are. You can see it. Anybody could if they could Look. I wrote some notes in the margins explaining it. The rest is in between lines or in the fine Print. First, the feeling of abandonment, then trying to cope. Then death and hope and the thing Itself, waiting for me.
These are probably the most brilliant set of lyrics in the entire song. He sets up the order of all the songs with that passage.
- abandonment - coping - death - hope - and the thing itself
This first chunk of songs focuses on the abandonment. The next chunk focuses on coping with that sense of loss. Then, death, mixed with a feeling of hope; and at the end of it all, the Thing itself, waiting for the narrator at the end of all things.
It’s all there in the pages ahead of here. It’s there waiting for you. Or for me. I’m not sure.
The whole story.
The ending of this set of lyrics shows that the narrator will be heading down this path with you. He will provide his own insight into these stories, into these events; and he will connect them to his own life.
This track is basically the introduction page, or foreword, or maybe even a passage scrawled on a dedication page, to a set of stories, that the narrator has collected from all around him. These stories are annotated with the narrator's thoughts to show why he chose them. These thoughts weave the album together, and show him personally being moved forward as a character by them.
That's the start of the character's descent into the wildlife outside. This is him dealing with the demons inside. This is his exorcism. And it may even become your own as well.
The next track is Harder Harmonies, and it furthers the feeling of abandonment. I will tackle that track in my next post. I encourage you guys to analyze any albums you want too, so that I don't feel like I'm spamming the thread!
There are bridges over rivers. There are moments of collapse. There are drivers with their feet on the glass. You can kick but you can’t get out. There is history in the Rooms of the House.
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-May 11
(To clarify, this is addressed to Meursault) See, in your review, you called Between the Buried and Me a sort of ADHD for music. Maybe I'm the other side of that statement; they feel natural to me, and most music feels annoyingly repetitive. I'm sick of little progression in what I listen to, I'm sick of songs dwelling on the same melodies and riffs for their verses. Because sure, sometimes they'll strike it lucky and play a really catchy riff or a melody I enjoy and then lucky me I can hear it for thirty seconds at a time, maybe the duration of the song even. But then there's inevitably gonna be a large slew of songs that aren't so lucky. Boring. As. Hell. Like "Comfortably Numb," Pink Floyd. Hate it, one of the most boring Pink Floyd songs I've heard, yet it's somehow one of their more popular ones. It's just so.. bah. It spends so long on the same boring sound, which is entirely just my opinion that it's boring but it's not just my opinion that it spends a fair amount of time on it, that definitely happens, and the fact is a lot of people enjoy the sound so they're lucky enough to get to experience it for so long.
A grand goddamn majority of songs are like that. I don't think I need to convince you of that. This is why I drifted towards the more technical genres as I learned about them and developed my tastes. I went for bands like Metallica and Megadeth because songs like "Orion" and "Five Magics" went through all kinds of different sounds. To me, that was good songwriting. That wasn't some subjective thing like "Oh, I like this sound," or "Oh I like how those two notes sound together." This was something objective, these were songs that changed their riffs and sounds and melodies, often even while trying to tell a story. The way I saw it, the more complex a song was, the better its songwriting was. If there was more things to think about in the song, there was.. well, more to think about! It could tell us more! It could express itself in a manner that wasn't restricted by something as petty as "I like this sound, I don't like this sound."
This is why my favourite Genesis song was, for a time, "The Battle of Epping Forest:" It was eleven straight minutes of some of the most content-packed rock I had ever heard. I didn't care if the transition to the Reverend verses felt a little bit dodgy or that a lot of the song didn't actually sound that appealing when I really got right down to it, because I understood that that was subjective. Anything can sound good to anyone, I guarantee that. Anything can be an acquired taste, and even the most acquired of tastes can be loved at first sight by some people, it all depends on the context and what they were raised on, what mood they're in, what's going through their mind, what they want to hear, what they expect to hear.
So then I started playing Rock Band, and at least I could learn to appreciate even the more boring songs in a new way: I could at least tell if a song was gonna be fun to play or not, and the challenging ones tended to be really fun. The most fun ones were, as before, the ones that changed. Where you had to test yourself and could experience all kinds of sounds in one song. And in Rock Band 2, I was introduced to "Prequel to the Sequel," which was easily the most fun song in that whole game (though "Panic Attack," "Colony of Birchmen," and "Visions" came close). Here was a song that really changed. It went everywhere, it gave me so much to think about just from the guitar part alone, and its metal riffs were insanely fun.
I think that's why Between the Buried and Me chooses the riffs they do: Because they're fun to play. I've seen a lot of behind-the-scenes videos of the band at work, and they really seem like just a bunch of guys who do what they do because they enjoy it. Hell, "White Walls" is literally about the topic of the music industry and why they write the way they do: They don't want to write songs they don't want to play, and they don't want to be some band of fake people who are worshipped like gods (so I will agree on complaints of their fans). When I see the band as this, and then I go and listen to the stuff they put out, I.. well, there's so much to think about.
That's really a good way to sum up why I love this band: They always give me something to think about. Maybe they just hit me at the right time in my life, that's pretty likely.
Plus, I'm at least at that point in my life where I am addicted to heavy metal riffs, and I've grown to love Tommy's growling vocals (I will fully admit that growling vocals are an acquired taste, as they were for me as well). But I like to think that every single riff, solo, and genre shift is placed there for a reason. In a lot of cases, that reason is either "It subverts an earlier riff" or "It's fun to play." But it's that possibility of a third option that intrigues me so much. >w< Plus figuring out the subversions is equally fun.
But then again, I think it's safe to say I just plain think too much in general.
EDIT: STOP THE FUCKING PRESSES I HAVE FIGURED OUT THE CONFUSING PROSPECT 1 PLOT WITH "MELTING CITY" AND HIS WIFE AND ALL THAT
Member No.: 175
Joined: 14-August 12
See, you mention "Orion" and "Five Magics," and that is the kind of thing that I really like. That is where the music really has a hold on the story-telling, especially "Orion" since that is an instrumental. What bothers me about Between the Buried and Me is that they 1. lack a kind of finesse that I think is important to musical storytelling 2. are boring to me.
Starting with 1, what I mean by finesse is that a lot of what they actually do does not tie together that well for me. It feels like they write parts of songs then throw all those parts together. I can understand only wanting to play the stuff you want to play, but, and this is especially if you are telling a story, you have to keep what is happening in the story of the lyrics in mind. Look at "Comfortably Numb." That is an excellent example of story and music going together. You have the way the doctor sounds being kind of spacey given the state of the main character, then you have the light, airy feel of the guy on drugs, then you have the experience of the concert with the guitar solo. Now, I'm not saying BTBAM should sound like Pink Floyd (Though I bet they take influence from them). I can dig that BTBAM has their own sound and style. But if they had done something like "Comfortably Numb" and changed the singing style depending on the lyrics and the music too, that would be cool. I could get behind the shifts in the music. But I'm pretty sure that is not what is happening, they are just playing what they want to. Sometimes they do this, like that circus bit I mention in my review. It makes it feel like the guy is floating through space during that. Then it shifts to METAL and annoys me.
Now for 2, I am desensitized. That is why it is boring. No, not even that really. Sure, it's predictable that they are going to write songs like that, but what bores me is that a lot of their shifting around musically is just palm-muted riffs and haphazard guitar melodies. I can't latch on to anything. That comes from just having all of the space just filled with sound. Now, it's better on this album than the last, but still, it's not spaced out enough. I really think that this album did do better than their last couple though.
Now, yeah, there are a lot of songs that just don't do anything musically, most in fact. A lot of Prog is even that way really, focusing on traditional song structure. I can commend BTBAM for never following traditional song structure for the most part. I mean, I think they do Verse-Chorus-Verse, but in a unique and original way.
"Comfortably Numb," coming from it as a fan of Pink Floyd (not hardcore, but I like them) and that song, I can say that part of what people like about that song is the storytelling I said about above, the other part comes from the guitar solo itself. If you look, that thing is on pretty much every list of greatest guitar solos. Why? I mean, it is not technically insane or anything, he is just using the Aeolian mode. It's the note choice though. The note choice is ridiculously perfect. It's the same reason "Stairway..." has such a good guitar solo. That, and the build-up to it. And that goes for "Comfortably Numb." The build-up to it is awesome.
I know you probably recognize this, but be careful of saying songs are good because they are complex. Their are a lot of songs that are complex enough, but are pretty bad. It's not complexity that makes good songwriting, it is whether the music itself is good, is well done. In all technicality, Pop is the most well-written genre. Everything is manufactured to be perfect. Sure, it is unadventurous, but it is perfect songwriting. Boring? Sure, to people like you or me. I can allow myself to like it still. I don't know if you can, so I won't make that assertion, but I know that when I was your age, I couldn't get past the fact that it was all just electronic and manufactured and kind of boring.
A complex song can be written really poorly. It all depends on how the music fits together in the end. Now, there are exceptions, but most of those lie in the Avant-Garde and I don't want to get into the Avant-Garde today, that would just take forever honestly. In the Avant-Garde, what I have said kind of doesn't apply, yet it kind of does.
As an aside, I think that BTBAM was meant to be on Rock Band. Playing "Obfuscation" is SOOOOO much fun.
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-May 11
I can like anything, partly because I recognize how petty it would be to have my appreciation of something hindered simply by not liking the sound so I try my best to enjoy at least what I hear. Even "Comfortably Numb" sounds alright (though I disagree about the vocals being selected to match the story there, Roger Waters always sounds the same to me). And as for pop, I have tried especially hard to like the sound of the songs on the radio specifically because of people whining about how much it sucks. I see that as like complaining about growling vocals or saying dubstep sounds like garbage. It's all just subjective, and I consider it all bullshit.
And let me tell you how memorable the "Comfortably Numb" solo was to me the first time I heard it: Didn't even notice it. Let me tell you how memorable it is after listening to the album many times and developing a respect for it: I honestly didn't realize there was a guitar solo there until you mentioned it. Then I was like "Oh yeah, I.. remember that. Kinda." I just. I don't even consider most of Pink Floyd's stuff to be anything more than background music, stuff to put on if I want something that won't distract me from my work. Even Animals, which I admit is one of my favourite albums, I rarely actively listen to it. Though I love the concept behind it.
I should stress that what I like to hear and what I like to listen to are two different things. What I like to hear, I don't put much thought into and is just the primal part of my brain going "I'm in the mood for this today." What I like to listen to is what I think about, and so I prefer it to be something that makes me think. No matter what you make me listen to, I will like how it sounds. ...except maybe some punk. Maybe. But I will still tolerate it as patiently as I can.
You brought up a good point about the lyrical-musical dissonance, one that I had originally written a reply to in my earlier post but for some reason deleted it. I do actually agree on that point, and I suppose what I like about Between the Buried and Me is that, if the music matches the lyrics or not, it's very hard to tell. So it allows me to just... guess what the story is entirely based on the music. Hell, before I read the lyrics to Future Sequence, I wound up coming up with all these different interpretations of the story based on the way the music goes! But still deeper down I also hate that it's hard to tell. I don't like lyrical ambiguity, though it does seem like Tommy writes with ideas in mind; their songs never seem to be about nothing. But if it ever turns out one of their songs is about nothing, I will dislike that. Hell, okay, so "Viridian" off of Colors turned out to be about nothing and was just a brief instrumental which pissed me off because Colors is constantly hyped up to be this magnificent concept album but bah.
But what I enjoy about The Parallax is that the lyrics might very well match the music for all I know. The problem is that it's very difficult to tell because the lyrics are so cryptic and complicated and often have elements that require knowledge of previous albums. But in the case of "Bloom," I know at least that one's lyrics do match its music, though in a rather ironic way. Sinister lyrics, upbeat song. And "Astral Body" is fairly similar. And "Lay Your Ghosts to Rest" gets epic during its chorus because its chorus is Prospect #2 discussing his mission he had set out to do ("Augment of Rebirth" has the lyric "(My mission must stay focused. I work day in and day out.") and the "day in and day out" line made me realize that that was also said on "Lay Your Ghosts to Rest" so what if he's talking about his mission and see this is what I'm talking about), gets circus-y whenever he starts talking about Folder 502 (which, as I interpret it, was planted by the Night Owls, and "Fossil Genera" where they originated had a fairly circus-y feel to it, PLUS the fact that Prospect #2 comes from "Lost Perfection" off of The Silent Circus, emphasis on circus). And then "Extremophile Elite" gets intense when Prospect #1 starts to panic because of the machines and then also when both Prospects meet and yes. Plus it's not like Tommy had reason to sing differently for the Prospects; they're supposed to be mirrors of each other. The only other characters, he did sing differently for, or at least maybe I look too deeply into it. The "She Speaks" section of "Telos" has Tommy put on a sort of.... soul-y voice that makes me think of female singing, and "Bloom" is just plain "Bloom." I suppose it's a bit lazy that he stuck to the same growling for the Night Owls in "Silent Flight Parliament," but then again "Fossil Genera" was a growling song too so at least it's consistent.
And also I feel the need to mention that "Specular Reflection" had a musical excerpt from the intro to"Swim to the Moon" and "Telos" had a musical excerpt from the intro to "Lost Perfection." It's not relevant to anything; I'm just. I like to talk about neat things I find in The Parallax.
I do want to also say that (and maybe this was just me) "Fossil Genera" had a very well done music-lyric connection. The lyrics and music to "Beyond the satellites" were very sinister but upbeat, and then it went back to what almost seemed like typical Between the Buried and Me to me at first, but I thought that all the heavy parts to the song maintained a notable sinister/ominous feel to them, occasionally bordering on spacey, which complemented the lyrics so very well. Then the ending had a very grand feel to it, and after years of trying to figure out what the hell the ending is saying, I'm 70% sure that it's saying "These qualities of man that we are mentioning are what allowed the Night Owls to slip past our radar," so it's a grand topic about human nature always focusing too much on moving forward and never stepping back and reviewing. AND AND AND the time signature that the ending bit is in didn't just come out of nowhere! It was first seen earlier in the song during the passage "We have come to tell you all that we could have prepared for this," which also seemed to be from the perspective of humans except during the Night Owl time. And this particular passage has that sort of rhythmic steel-ish drum sound to it which makes me think of working in some sort of mine, which could be seen as possible evidence that this is a human speaking and they're working in a mine! Because Night Owls!
See, I will agree that there are plenty of times where Between the Buried and Me probably just threw in something for lulz (like the horse neighing at the start of the instrumental section to "Disease, Injury, Madness") and I kinda roll my eyes at parts like this, but I still think there are so many parts that were carefully planned and they're just really easy to miss precisely because of how complex the songs get. And it's the times like that that I feel really excited and love the band so much.
Final bit: Your review mentioned that The Parallax was a concept album and I just.. I just want to clarify and make sure this is understood, not that I'm assuming you don't know, but because I don't know if you do and I just want to clarify because this is a massive pet peeve of mine. A concept album is not an album that tells a story. That is a rock opera, which can be a type of concept album. A concept album is simply an album that is unified by a concept, even a very broad concept.
..and I apologize if any bits of this post looked emotional or rude or anything. I'm half-asleep.
Member No.: 175
Joined: 14-August 12
Don't worry, I tend to not take these things personally. I figure you might get annoyed at some of the things I say considering I am attacking something you enjoy.
I forgot to mention the other thing about the guitar solo. It is not just a solo. It carries the melody from then on. Instead of it being something set aside to be there to show off David Gilmore, it continues the story.
I never thought you couldn't like anything. Though, and this is perhaps your word choice, I would assert that you cannot try to like anything, you have to let yourself like it. I know it sounds similar, but in my mind they are different. If you are trying, you are probing the music, trying to latch on to it. When you let yourself like it, you open yourself to it, let it latch onto you. I think you got at this when you were talking about what you like to hear, thought it seems a bit unclear.
Also, your reaction to "Comfortably Numb" probably will be different from mine since I am a guitarist and will notice guitar solos instantly. If the guitar takes the forefront, I am there, I am paying attention.
I'm going say that dubstep and growling can be bad. Growling is atonal, and so people don't like it. I like atonal music, but only when it is done well. Growling, to me, is used well for the most part. Black Metal and Death Metal have every right to use it considering their subject matter and things like that. Growling has to fit. When it doesn't, that is when it is bad.
Now, dubstep. Here is a genre that annoys me. See, I said I like atonal music when done well. By that, I mean when it is done by someone who knows what they are doing. Aaron Copland, Charles and Ruth Crawford Seeger, Arnold Shoenburg-they were composers that knew what they were doing with dissonance and atonal scales. Dubstep tends to just be noise that someone figured out on a computer. No talent and no understanding of what they are doing. When used well, it is really good. I like some dubstep, but only when it is reigned in. So, basically, I hate brostep. But when everything gets out of sync in a really bad poly-rhythm, I hate it. When it just becomes nothing. This is different from, say Sunn o))), where it is just noises. Well, yeah, that's fine. They are supposed to be that way. I'm supposed to be able to dance to dubstep, but when it falls apart, it isn't doing it's job.
That is what I am getting at. When something like growling or dubstep is taken in the wrong direction and is destroying the song, that is bad. You could say that this is all subjective, saying something is bad or not, but...no. To say that is a bit of a fallacy filled argument. See, it is circular logic, which invalidates an argument. It can be, I should say. So, just be careful using that term. 'm not saying you necessarily did that here, but you did use it as a blanket statement for people like me who look at the song and see if what they are doing is done well, objectively well. To make assertions that something is objectively good, it lies in whether or not two notes, two sections, complement each other, go well together and get what is supposed to be happening across to the listener. If it does all of that well, then it is good. Objectively. To like how it is done is subjective. I gave you what is as close as I can come to an objective look at growls and dubstep.
As for concept albums (of which I know a good deal), I give you a quote from the wikipedia article:
In music, a concept album is an album that is "unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative, or lyrical". Commonly, concept albums incorporate preconceived musical or lyrical ideas with all songs contributing to a single overall theme or unified story.
Concept album includes narrative stories. I would say that Parallax II is a concept album because so much is conveyed through the music other than just a story.
And I wasn't necessarily saying that BTBAM never matches lyrics and types of vocals with the music, I was just saying that they are inconsistent with it. And I get sometimes they like doing things ironically. "Fossil Genera" is a song I really like by them because of the musical cohesion.
Yeah, I can see the mirror thing, but if there are characters outside of the two mains talking and I can't even tell, that is kind of bad like you pointed out.
There is so much potential in this album. If these guys make another one progressing in this pattern, I think they can really hit something important, not just a good album but an important album that balances everything to near perfection.
Member No.: 25
Joined: 6-October 11
Does Muse count as prog? I love every Muse album that comes out, barring the Resistance because bleh. I listened to it before I read anything about it, and I tend to agree with the reviewers: it's boring. It sounds like Muse wanted to have their music used in movies and commercials.
2nd Law, on the other hand, was pretty awesome. It wasn't exactly quality music for the most part (I never was too much of a fan of Muse's ballads), but it marked another change in their sound. They experimented a lot more in that album than in any other, barring BH&R, or maaaaaaaaaybe OoS.
Either way, I'm a fan of dubstep (sure, there's some good brostep out there, but I mean stuff like Porter Robinson or Nero and Skream, artists who actually play real dubstep), which Muse actually played surprisingly well.
Friend: Eh, this guy comes on from the wrong angle, in my opinion. He keep stalking about how different their music is and how to expect something disappointing, but I guess he missed the memo that Muse announced that they're changing their sound, so it's basically a side project with the same name...sort of.
Also, he mentions plagiarism. A few points here: While I did feel a sense of Another One Bites the Dust in Panic Room, Queen is obviously an influence of Muse as they have mentioned. Of course some of their sound will bleed through, whether consciously or not. Also, it's pretty darn hard not to "plagiarize" these days with so much music already out, but I don't think they're "plagiarizing" anyway. You have to understand that this album serves three major purposes;
1) Energy and destruction
The 2nd Law refers to thermodynamics, of course. This album is more science-based because it relates back to the ideas of the Absolution album -the end of the world and humanity itself. Destruction goes hand in hand with this motif as a reminder that the world falls apart and as a wake up call that we all need to be thinking about this. As for humanity, that it touched upon in point 2...
2) Humanity and Life As can be assumed by their new direction, there are a deal of songs in this album that are about love, as well as human nature as seen in "Animals" and a few other songs. The idea here is to draw out a side of their music that had not always been in the open. Wearing their hearts upon their sleeves, I suppose. Taking a more serious and slightly more optimistic tone by addressing life but also sticking in a few reminders that not everything is made of glitter. It's more well-rounded than most of their other stuff, in my opinion.
This album is a creative gesture on their part. It's supposed to be a large amount of experimentation with new stuff as well as old stuff. As for old stuff, they mentioned that they were thinking back to the music they liked when they were young and decided to have some fun based off that. No harm here. It's basically like bringing for experimental b-sides into an album or something.
In general, keep in mind that this is surely not a normal album, so you can't expect the same things out of it. I personally like the brass and strings that they decorated it with, and I think it's pretty cool in "Follow Me" how they took a dustep-ish breakdown and put good vocals over it, essentially creating something new out of something else new. I like this album because I think it is cool that they did so many new things in one single album. Of course I wish they would make some more rock stuff, and maybe they will, but right now I think it's pretty cool how they took an entirely new and daring side.
Me: I haven't even heard the album yet. I thought it didn't come out for another week. So, I have no opinion on this album yet except that “Madness” IS pretty much “I Want to Break Free,” and also is nowhere near as good, and that “Unsustainable” is…lacking. Maybe it will fit better into context.
You have to keep in mind as well that this guy is writing from the perspective that Muse is a Progressive Rock band, and that they were so in the past, and that if you are a Prog fan and a fan of Muse's Prog stuff, you will be sorely disappointed. Whether Muse really is Progressive Rock at all is up in the air for me, but still, I can see his point. I have a lot of criticism of Dream Theater that is really similar to this guy’s criticism of Muse.
I’ll get back to the whole plagiarism issue after I hear the whole album.
(After hearing the album)
Before I begin, I wanted to point out that the review didn't really criticize the change in sound, he criticized their heavy borrowing from other bands, saying they didn't need to since they had a style that didn't rely on that at all. Also, I kinda am confused by what you meant about what you said about “Follow me.” Nothing new was done there. At all.
Okay, so, looking past the heavy borrowing, I can say that this is a really weak album. I was bored. Bored and baffled. I really liked Animals and that was it. I liked when the Bassist sang, though those songs, well the second one he sang on, fell flat. I’ll get back to why the other one fell flat for me. I also liked little bits and pieces that really kind of showed Muse being themselves and still retaining their new sound. I think the main one that stands out to me is near the end of Madness, where it stops sounding so much like “I Want to Break Free.”
The album ranged from passable to just me saying "no." A lot of it doesn't work for me. They don’t seem to know how to make interesting electronic music. They really just kind of, fell flat all around. I don’t even remember “Animals” now, even though I liked it. It is a forgettable album. Maybe if I listen to it again, I will find more in it to like or remember. I still think that Survival is just outright bad. Not Neutron Star Collision bad, but still. A lot of the album falls between okay and bad. I just feels so lost. Kinda like they didn’t know what exactly they wanted to do so they recorded stuff.
The reason I can’t say I liked it when the bassist sang on “Save Me” was because it sounds too much like a song by Steven Wilson called “Significant Other.” It was the same reason Big Freeze fell flat, because I heard too much U2. It’s not even so much plagiarism though as it is lack of originality (VERY close to each other, but there’s a subtle difference if you know what I mean)
I couldn’t get past the fact they were just blatantly taking aspects of other’s music and just making songs around pre-existing songs. I understand wanting to incorporate influence, but this isn’t that, it is just them kind of becoming the influences, just doing bad versions of them. So, instead of plagiarism, we have a lack of originality and being taken over by their homage to a point that borders plagiarism.
To point to a good homage, Dream Theater’s “Never Enough” pays homage, as you know, to Muse, but then Dream Theater takes off with it, makes it their own thing. This does not happen on the new album.
It’s just disappointing because I was pretty interested to hear they were doing even more than alt rock, but they did almost nothing "Muse" with it. It didn’t work, it just sounded like they’re expanding genres badly. He, the reviewer, was disappointed because it's not up to snuff really.
Friend: I like your point that "So, instead of plagiarism, we have a lack of originality and being taken over by their homage to a point that borders plagiarism." because I really don't believe they would decide to plagiarize but I would believe that they may have gotten a bit lost in trying to come up with new stuff. Still, though, I like this album 3 times better than the Resistance. The more you listen, by the way, the more you pick up on the songs. And when I mentioned "new stuff" a lot earlier, I meant new for them, not necessarily new in the world of music. But if you watch the "making of" videos on youtube ...
... they really show how much they get into their music. That's what excites me; it's like combining a symphony with electronic and rock. Not like it's necessarily new, or that they're necessarily good at it, but I like that they're doing it. And I think that most of the songs have at least something about them that stands out to me. For example, I initially hated the extreme falsetto in Supremacy, but now I love it because it's such a unique nit-bit of that song and it's something I wasn't used to.
Of course they're not incredible at their new stuff, but I really respect the effort that they do contribute. And if you watch the making-of for Unsustainable, you can see how much they work with their own instruments (after they make an electronic "demo" first).
Me: I'll listen to the album again, see if there's more I like in it. I guess it's just that I have a completely different perspective on them in general. Nothing they do impresses me any more than most other bands, most bands do a lot for their music, work hard on it. It takes a band a lot of time and effort to put out any album. I can say it's commendable for them to want to not repeat themselves, but I don't care how hard they work, I want the work that comes out of the effort to be GOOD. Otherwise it's wasted. I can understand LIKING the album, I guess there is stuff to like here, but I can't think it's good because it just is so unfocused, uninteresting and just derivative. I'll get back to you on what I think of it after a second listen.
I still haven't really listened to it again. So, I still need to do that.
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-May 11
Re: Guitar solos. While I don't play guitar myself, growing up with Guitar Hero/Rock Band has at least given me a large appreciation for the instrument, so it tends to be the first instrument I really hear. I do hear guitar solos. But in the case of "Comfortably Numb," I suppose it's because by the point in my life when I got to hear the song I had already heard a million other guitar solos before. There comes a time in every man's life where he has heard so many guitar solos that new ones fall flat, even if it's not actually new but it's simply new to him.
And for the record, when I assert that everything is subjective, I kinda am trying to invalidate arguments. I'm trying to say "Music shouldn't be something we have to argue about; it should be something we just enjoy." I like being pretentious, but I'd rather not be pretentious at the expense of bands that someone might love. It's why, while I don't much care for Radiohead and Pink Floyd's more popular stuff, I try not to talk about it much. More a case of politeness, I suppose. I don't see the point to not be polite.
Then again, I also don't like arguing. I do it a lot, but I don't like it. I'd rather use my energy to try and spot new things, find new ways to appreciate something I couldn't appreciate as much before. Like your points! You do make some very good points that I can agree with.
Now that we've had a lot of time to talk about it, I do agree on disliking Between the Buried and Me's inconsistencies. I suppose I just let that one slide, as I'm definitely a fan of theirs by this point.
And I also concede to your points on growling and dubstep. I'm not exactly experienced with either; I've heard a lot of growling in my life but I've never actively done it besides with Opeth and Between the Buried and Me. And my full experience with dubstep is listening to medleys on YouTube for hours while writing Rapture. It's always been background music to me. xD Hell, Rapture was the first time in my life I had ever heard dubstep. So I'm not in a position to talk much about it. I just.. well, the majority of my friends in Mevagissey instantly dismiss all dubstep as being shit, and so I've grown to regard bashing dubstep as being as intolerant as bashing anything new.
Now, let's talk about Muse.
Before I had heard much of Muse (beyond "Knights of Cydonia" because Guitar Hero), I had a friend who was a massive Muse fan. However, he was also a massive Radiohead fan. So from the start, I associated both bands with each other, and hopefully you've seen by now how little I care for Radiohead. Then I went and got The Resistance and thought it was alright and went and bought the rest of their albums. They've.. always been a mixture between background music and the occasional song I really like, though with time they've become a band I will gladly listen to attentively.
Their lyrics annoy me, though. Jeez, guys. Write a song about something other than "RISE UP" for once, will you? It almost felt insulting on "United States of Eurasia" when completely out of nowhere Matthew sings "AND MUST WE DO AS WE'RE TOLD?" It has nothing to do with the lyrics and just occurs that one time! We get it, Matthew! You don't like doing as you're told! So when I got The 2nd Law and realized that it didn't actually have all that many songs about rebelling, I felt very relieved. :D Sure, it had a song or two about love which occurs on every album, but love's a topic I'm fine with hearing over and over again.
I mean, when I get right down to it, I do like Muse. I'm glad to listen to them; it's always a pleasant experience for me. It's the fans I hate. It's always the fans I hate, fans do nothing but ruin things for everyone. xD Muse are good, but they're far from the best band in the world. None of them are that talented at their instrument, their lyrics are pretty good at their best cases ("Megalomania" was what I was directed to when I wanted to see a case of good lyrics, and I laughed out loud), and they're frequently labelled as progressive when it's by some standards that not even I understand. I mean, maybe Muse is progressive in that their sound changes a lot? "Supremacy" was apparently supposed to be this album's token "progressive" song, but it still had two verses and two choruses and that's it. "The 2nd Law" is far more progressive than that, either because it's a suite or it's supposed to be one song, I actually don't know which is intended, but either option is far more progressive. xD
As for the topic of them playing off their influences, maybe it's just me, but I don't mind it. If it's what they want to do, I really can't see anything wrong with it. Plus I acknowledge that, and this might be confusing logic to some, songs like "Panic Station" and "Survival" are Muse's sound now. This shouldn't even require further explanation, it should be common sense that what a band releases is officially what that band sounds like because there you go, that band just released themselves sounding like it! Every song on The 2nd Law adds up to become Muse's sound of the time, and then you add that collective sound to the sound of their previous releases to get what their overall sound is.
As for a lack of originality, I won't argue with that as I can see the logic behind that argument. I just.. don't care. xD There was never such a thing as originality, and there never will be. Pink Floyd's sound was heavily influenced by the context of their time, Led Zeppelin's was definitely heavily influenced/often outright taken from the context of their time, The Beatles even at their most experimental got their sound from somewhere. So I really don't consider overall originality to be a factor in whether or not I like a song. I do, however, consider originality in the context of the individual band's discography. Like Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon being dedicated to Syd Barrett, much like previous releases they had already put out, much like releases they would put out later like "Shine On Crazy Diamond." And, being fair, Between the Buried and Me does have a tendency to dwell on the subject of personal happiness and human nature, so when I saw the lyrics to "Telos" I kinda rolled my eyes because it was remarkably similar to what they had already done time and time before. Though at least "Telos" was necessary to the story of The Parallax, and if my interpretation is correct it was actually ironic lyrics this time as Prospect 2 was heavily influenced by the Night Owls.
So, going by my standards here, The 2nd Law is the most original album Muse has released. They're not retreading on ground they have already covered, or rather there are certainly cases of that ("Supremacy") but they're not what people remember.
To give a rather straightforward explanation of my opinion on the album: Supremacy, I rarely listen to because it's just kinda that sound I associate with Origin of Symmetry which I also rarely listen to. Madness, I adore 100%. Panic Station, I often listen to on repeat. I've been doing that a lot lately. Prelude/Survival, I wasn't sure of the first time I heard it, but now I really love it. It's very quirky and upbeat and energetic. Follow Me, hate the intro, love the electronic sound. Animals, very catchy, very fun, great ending. Explorers, this is where I just kinda awkwardly skip music. Big Freeze, almost completely forgot this song existed. Save Me, adore it. Adore it. Cannot tell you how happy I was that there was finally a Muse song with a different singer for once, and this really felt like the kind of song I could love. It didn't sound like Muse at all and I loved that. It sounded so relaxing. ;w; Liquid State, eh. It's. I do like the singer and the music's pretty good, but the rhythm sounds way too like "Newborn" and "Unnatural Selection." The 2nd Law: Unsustainable, I love how they create the sound entirely with their instruments, and I love the vocal samples, but.. when it actually gets going, this song is actually fairly boring. Not much really happens in it. o_o It hardly even sounds like dubstep. The 2nd Law: Isolated System, okay I will be perfectly honest this song is the perfect way to end an album. It reminds me of the third part of "Exogenesis Symphony," so they may have been going for that general feeling and I love it.
Also, I hate the title of the album being represented numerically. I want to call it The Second Law, that feels so much cooler!
Member No.: 175
Joined: 14-August 12
I understand your point about guitar solos, I totally do. I get so bored listening to metal because a lot of soloing sounds so unoriginal to me. I guess it helps that "Comfortably Numb" was a song that I had heard my whole life and that when I started paying attention to soloing, it was one of the first I scrutinized. Then I learned guitar and tried to write a solo. Goddamn is it hard to write a solo where EVERY note is perfectly placed. I mean, Petrucci pretty much always writes a good solo, same with Synyster Gates actually. That's my perspective of it.
As for using subjectivity to invalidate, I will repeat what I said. Be sure it does not become a circular argument. I mean, most likely, people won't call you on a rhetorical fallacy, but then again, pretentious fucks like me are everywhere hahaha.
I can say that I also despise argument. To argue is just saying nothing new, you are just yelling while the other yells and neither listens. I debate. That is what I do here. When you approach argument as debate instead you become more open to ideas. I get the impression you are debating me and not arguing. And because we debate, I am more open to your opinions. I find your opinions extremely interesting and they give me a new perspective on things, which I love. It gives me so much to think about.
Now, as for arguing about music and things that people should be allowed to enjoy, I would say you can debate it all you want. Debate is polite in a way. You are not supposed to, in a debate, say that the person is wrong for liking a band. But it is to say that they are misguided in thinking that what they like is automatically good. You can debate the merits of a subject while not having that affect your enjoyment. I fully recognize that The Spirit is a massively shitty movie, yet I love that shit. Always debate, always be open to criticism. It is not impolite to criticize, so long as you make it so that it is not impolite. That way both get a different perspective on a song/band. Each should come away thinking. Does that mean the person who enjoys the music should be swayed not to? No, because enjoyment of music seems almost irrational. You like what you like. But, the thing is that it is important to distinguish between whether something is good or not and your enjoyment. I like metal. A lot. But a lot of it is, musically, trash. Punk is that way too. Everything from any genre can fall into this, and does. Does that stop me from liking it, from letting it get into me? Nope. But I recognize that it isn't good, accept it, then ignore it as I bang my fucking head.
As for Muse, I hate the fanbase. That friend in my early post pretty much only listens to Muse. It. Is. Infuriating. He obsesses over everything Muse, thinks they are fucking gods among men.
Your reaction to them is pretty much mine, up to a point. I disagree about the new album, but this is just me personally. I can't get past how they are letting their influence consume them and doing nothing with it.
Again, to say everything is unoriginal is to fall into circular argument, so be careful. Yes, everything is influenced by something, but it is only influenced. To quote the great T.S. Elliot:
"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from which it was torn."
and Muse follows the bad poet a lot. Madness is so much like "I Want to Break Free" it is distracting to me. Same with "Big Freeze" and "Save Me." I am just disappointed in them. I really liked The Resistance album. I thought they could go somewhere interesting. But then they switched and tried to take more from their influences and got lost. I thought that there were moments of brilliance in "Madness," which annoys me even more. The last minute or so is just beautiful, and is so "Muse" yet was also showing their influence that it redeemed the song a bit. I hate "Survival." It's just cheesy and lame and annoys me a lot. I can't even look at it objectively, I hate it so much. I barely remember the rest of the album honestly. I thought the "2nd Law" two-parter was boring. The second half was better than the first, but the message is being shoved down my throat and I just want to spit it up. Lyrically, Muse bores the piss out of me, because, like you said, they tend to just talk about the same thing over and over.
I also agree with you about the title. I think that I like Origin of Symmetry best by them, but I haven't listened to them in a while. I can't listen to long or it all starts to sound kind of same-y. Then again, when you hit Black Holes... it gets a little more interesting.
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-May 11
(Note: I don't know what it is about this, but I am unable to maintain all my politeness when discussing this, so I want to put this disclaimer that all this is strictly my opinion.)
Regarding Origin of Symmetry, I don't even know. It's just.. unmemorable to me. It's got a very late-90s sound to it, a very alt. rock, Radiohead-ish sound at times. A sound I could literally fall asleep to, a kinda.. dull sound, like it's easy-listening that happens to have been played with rock instruments. Like The Dark Side of the Moon! Or maybe it's the fact that I bought this album after having listened to The Resistance which in my opinion is a rather similar album in sound. I'll go track-by-track, maybe we can figure out why I don't listen to it much.
New Born, I dunno, it's just really.. un-notable to me. Okay and I'm listening to it right now and I realize the verses actually have somewhat catchy guitar parts. But I can't stop thinking of Radiohead when I hear this. It's hard to explain, it's a sort of.. soft-rock feel, I suppose. It's pleasant to hear but not something I want to listen to. (Plus, and this is a stupid complaint, I hate babies so I subconsciously steer clear of it from the title alone.) Bliss, I.. okay exact same as before. (Not-so-good complaint, the lyrics make me uncomfortable for some reason.) Space Dementia, saaame as befooore. In fact, this song sounds like the spacey feel of Bliss mixed with a bit of the qurkiness of New Born, so it's basically just the past two songs put together. I will admit that the ending is memorable and I commend it for that. Hyper Music, really, all my complaints seem to boil down to "This makes me think of Radiohead or at least that general era of sound and I just don't like or have much respect for that era/sound." AND OKAY I'M LISTENING TO IT AND THEY ALL SOUND LIKE THEY HAVE THE SAME OR SIMILAR CHORDS AS EACH OTHER, ALL WITH THAT SAME SOFT-ROCK/ALT-ROCK SOUND, it gets repetitive. Plug In Baby is where I make my exceptions. I like Plug In Baby a lot. Probably because it was in Guitar Hero 5. But no, I can note differences in the sound here. The bass actually sounds different here. ..that's all I got. (And just wow the title of this song and the lyrics make me strangely uncomfortable, I don't know why that is. It's like, when Matthew isn't singing about resistance and love, he's singing about something vague that makes me uncomfortable.) Citizen Erased, I heard a shitload of hype for this one thanks to having Muse fan friends. Plus it's one of their longest songs so I was curious (only seven minutes, seriously? -.-). And I will admit that the main riff is extremely catchy and fun to headbang to, though I'm not a fan of making it the verse riff and then making the chorus something that feels to me like generic Muse. I love that the second verse and chorus are quiet subversions of the rest, and I love the guitar solo afterwards, though I'm mixed on the long outro. I mean, I love that it's long and I love that it's quiet. But it feels extremely dull in comparison to the pumping riffs of the main song. (Plus I subconsciously dislike this song because, when kids these days think of "Citizen _____," they're going to think of "Erased" rather than Kane. It's already started happening!) Micro Cuts, I forgot this song existed. It's quirky and yet repetitive, Matthew somehow manages to sing even more obnoxiously than normal, and I just bah. Decent ending, though. Screenager, lyrics make me ridiculously uncomfortable, probably just because of abuse I've been through. But I feel like there are ways to talk about abuse in music without making it awkward like this. Muse just completely flew in the exact opposite direction. Darkshines, whoa here's a song I also forgot existed. It has a similar "somewhat mysterious almost eastern" sound to it like Screenager did, yet it has a more conventional Muse sound like, oh, most of the other songs on the album have. Including a chorus that makes me think back to Hyper Music (at least in terms of "quiet verse HELLO WE ARE SHOUTING, NOW HERE IS THE CHORUS"). Feeling Good, okay I also enjoy this one. Hate Matthew's vocals on the second verse, but that's just me. Megalomania, I was expecting godlike lyrics after all the hype and wow these are pretty good and that's it. The sound? It's.. well, I have no idea what mood it's trying to convey, though I'm surprised that Matthew went to all that trouble to get a genuine church organ and then still went and made it sound synthesized anyway. I love the ending, though. For some reason, I get big Gabriel-era Genesis vibes from it. ..but that's about it.
I suppose, now that I've gone through the album and really thought about it, I can sum up my thoughts. Every Muse album uses influences from different genres, but it just so happens that the genres they take for this one are genres I've heard so much of that I'm sick of them and find this boring. And then there's a lot of subconscious things there that also help to make this whole album.. well, a bit of an unpleasant experience for me, really.
I dunno, for some reason when I hear this album I think of midwestern American college kids wanting to do something creative and coming up with soft rock from the 90s, yet somehow a fairly talented British band in the 2000s perfectly emulated that sound.
It's just not my cup of tea, I guess, if you want me to say it more politely. <:D
Member No.: 25
Joined: 6-October 11
Understandable. I disagree, but I never really listened to Radiohead until several years after I began listening to Muse. I heard them compared a lot, so I thought I'd give them a try.
To me, Radiohead sounds completely different, though it may be because I started listening to Muse with Origin of Symmetry and Radiohead with Kid A, and there's a LOT less of a similarity between those two albums. Then again, I don't really like Radiohead all that much, believe it or not. They're so... somber. They lack all of the energy that Muse has, and so whenever people compare the two, it just blows my mind.
I guess it really depends on where you started with both of them, though.