Muse, 'The Resistance' (Warner Bros.)

The Resistance
Critical Mass
Label: Warner Bros.

by Sean Fennessey

Ambition isn't the word. Gall isn't either. The vocabulary probably hasn't been invented to describe the yearn and churn of Britain's most shameless band's fifth album. Having mastered electro-prog, surf-prog, and prog-prog with 2006's relentless, stone-faced dialectic on alien invasion, Black Holes & Revelations, they turn to the next logical ladder rung of pretension: symphony. And they may have finally found the perfect category to fuse with their ever-swooping brand of rock.

Singer-guitarist Matt Bellamy has composed film scores and is no stranger to overblown calls for revolution, so when he wails, "We will be victorious!" on The Resistance's opener, "Uprising," it's hardly a surprise-his band has been making soccer anthems for nearly a decade. But by the time the Queen-ish "United States of Eurasia (+ Collateral Damage)" begins, a new wrinkle appears. As Bellamy completes a chant of "Eura-SI A-SI A-SI A," an interpolation of Chopin's "Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat" begins, and that's just a hint of the three-headed Cerberus to come. The "Exogenesis" symphonic triad that closes the album is perhaps the most ridiculous bit of self-serious posturing since Rick Wakeman's The Six Wives of Henry VIII. But it's fun! And Bellamy -- long derided as a Thom Yorke sound-alike -- has had an epiphany in embracing his inner snob. Epiphany. That might just be the word.



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