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The Final aMUSEings: Will of the People

Content Warning: Language


Welcome back to aMUSEings, the series where we take a closer look at Muse's nine studio albums. Today is an emotional day, as this will be the final installment of aMUSEings. Be sure to stay tuned all the way to the end, since I've included a special message to all of my readers. There will also be my final ranking of songs, and my overall thoughts on this series. As for Muse's most recent works, this album was released on August 26th, 2022. Their previous album, Simulation Theory, came out in 2019, which was obviously just before the Covid-19 pandemic. This event delayed the production of the new album, but the pandemic gave Muse a unique insight and opportunity. At this point, the band had been wanting to make an album about the state of the world. The chaos, riots, and even anarchy that had begun to plague society. Muse wanted to make a statement, to expose what had been happening. That's where the title of this album came from. Just like Uprising all those years ago, this album is a wake up call to see how society really is. A reflection on the people we have become, hence the album's title. For the last time, here is Muse's Will of the People.

After the divisiveness of Simulation Theory, with its electronica synth based music, Muse and their fans desired a return to more of a classic Muse sound. The band delivered with Will of the People. Backed by the themes of hysteria, madness, anarchy, uprising, and chaos (See what I did there), this album packs a punch. Full of rocking, heavy guitar from Bellamy, fantastic bass lines from Wolstenholme, and some insane drumming from Howard, Muse's Will of the People is among their best work of all time. Matt has even said during interviews that Will of the People is "a greatest hits album - of new songs - essentially." Honestly, that's a perfect way to describe this album. A newer, more refined sound that hearkens back to the classic Muse albums. So without any further ado, here's the last track by track breakdown of this series.


Will of the People: And we once again open with a bang. Muse were definitely both having and poking some fun when they made this track. Will of the People is based around a repeated choral effect of the same name, which is heard throughout a majority of the song. It also became the stadium chant for the tour, but we'll get to that a bit later. With a theme that could be seen as the antithesis to Uprising, this track and its associated music video show how extreme some people are willing to get. You can especially feel it with the instrumentation. Matt's vocals have a slight distortion effect on them, and when combined with his guitar, set the stage for how this album is going to go. Chris' bass follows the guitar riff, with some special transitions and effects thrown in throughout. With some driving drums from Dom, this song kicks off Will of the People with some insane energy. Bellamy even throws in a little scream during the outro, really driving home that Muse are back, and they've got a message to share. 


Compliance: With how diverse this band has been over the years, it's honestly surprising Muse have done something completely new for a song. Compliance is here to prove that, as it is the first song to feature beatboxing from Matt. This song feels similar in style to something from Simulation Theory, with the overall lack of guitar and synth based instrumentation. According to Bellamy, "Compliance is about the promise of safety and reassurance sold to us by powerful entities during times of vulnerability. Gangs, governments, demagogues, social media algorithms & religions seduce us with misleading untruths and comforting fables. They want us to join their narrow worldview in exchange for obedience and turning a blind eye to our own internal voice of reason & compassion. They just need our Compliance." Pretty intense theming, but nothing we haven't seen before from this band. Speaking of things we have seen before, how about some insane drum fills from Dom Howard. Every verse transition and bridge feature an excellent showcase of his skill, which is off the charts. More fun vocal effects from both Wolstenholme and Bellamy give Compliance a funky atmosphere, along with the synth-guitar solo and vocoded beatboxing. One of the more interesting songs from Will of the People, and a solid addition to this album.


Liberation: If the anti-government message wasn't already apparent, just the first three song titles hit the message home. One thing we have been missing thus far in this "Greatest Hits Album" is some phenomenal piano playing from Matt. Liberation takes care of that, along with including some falsetto from Bellamy. I would like to highlight Matt's singing here. As always, he is a great vocalist for this band, but there is something special about the Liberation vocals. Bellamy's voice is so clear, so powerful, and just beautiful to listen to. He still has the chops to sing in falsetto after over twenty years of Muse, and it's simply incredible to hear. Like previous songs such as Take a Bow, Liberation builds over the course of its runtime. But rather than crescendo at the end, it peaks during each chorus before bringing the energy back down for the verses. A unique stylistic choice that makes this track stand out among the rest. On top of his killer vocals, Matt's lyrics are also spectacular. "Silenced, you'll make us feel silenced. You stole the airwaves, but the air belongs to us. And violence, you'll make us turn to violence. You've left us choice less. Our backs against the wall no more, and we have plans to take you down. We intend to erase your place in history. Soon you'll be left with nothing. So I guess we should thank you , thank you, thank you. We've had enough! We thank you for playing your part in our liberation." Just a masterclass. 


Won't Stand Down: The first example of Muse going metal on this album, and it definitely won't be the last. As part of their most recent album, Won't Stand Down really combines elements of all other Muse albums. A Simulation Theory style synth intro, Absolution era heavy guitar, vocals straight off Origin of Symmetry, theming from The Resistance, Black Holes and Revelations style drumming, killer bass work reminiscent of Drones, an overall orchestral feel like The Second Law, and screams that sound just like Showbiz, this song synthesizes everything Muse have created and then some. I mentioned that Won't Stand Down was Muse going heavy, and man to they lean into the metal style The opening guitar and bass are dark, infused with heavy energy and full of deep, rich sound. Bellamy's vocals are distorted, switching between falsetto and full on screaming. "I never believed that I would concede and get myself blown asunder. You strung me along, I thought I was strong but now you have pushed me under I've opened my eyes and counted the lies and now it is clearer to me. You are just a user and an abuser and I refuse to take it." Just the first verse of lyrics are so poignant and awesome. Dom's drumming also features a double bass pedal, which is traditionally used in metal music. The new addition allows him to drum twice as fast, really giving this song some crazy energy and intensity. Won't Stand Down also features some kickass guitar breakdowns during each transition, really showing how heavy Muse have gotten. After the second chorus, which features more great lyrics from Bellamy, Matt really goes for the screams. They're raw, almost disgusting, like a guttural scream from an animal. Accompanied by some insane bass from Chris, and you have yourself one of Muse's best and heaviest songs.  


Ghosts (How Can I Move On?): If you're going to make a song about the pandemic, it has to include something about the pain and loss felt globally by all those who were lost. Ghosts slows things down for Will of the People, really grounding the emotional tone. Like Liberation before, this song is primarily based on piano. The highlight here are Bellamy's lyrics. "How can I move on, when everyone I see still talks about you? How can I move on, when all the best things I have we made together? Here's to letting go, but I am lost in a void with your ghost and our memories." Absolutely brutal stuff. Wolstenholme joins in for the final chorus, providing even more raw emotion for these vocals. This is perhaps Muse's most emotional song, as the pain is tangible in both singer's voices. 


You Make Me Feel Like It's Halloween: Given this is the first true holiday song by Muse, Halloween was absolutely the perfect choice. With a predominantly featured church organ (the first time since Megalomania), this song is perfect for the spooky season. Some funky bass and guitar open the song, followed by even funkier synth. This track is filled to the brim with weird and unique sound effects. It's over the top, and a genuinely fun song to listen to. Being an 80's inspired song, Halloween needed to pay homage in the solo. It certainly delivers, with a Van Halen inspired riff that adds even more uniqueness to Halloween. With some more 80's and classical homages during the outro, the song closes with a killer (pun intended) drum fill from Dom. You Make Me Feel Like It's Halloween is an absolutely bonkers song, and the over the top cheesiness makes it one of my personal favorites from the album. 


Kill or Be Killed: I mentioned earlier how Won't Stand Down wasn't the only time Muse went heavy on this album. Behold, Kill or Be Killed. With a tapping and sliding guitar intro synced with Dom's double bass drums, the song opens intense and maintains it through the entire five minute runtime. The main riff, full of wicked fast tapping similar to Reapers, is the true basis of energy for this song. The opening lyrics are also really solid. "Cornered, I'm exhausted with fear. Our love and compassion dissolved, and demons have materialized in me. Can't fight them, they're taking control. And we've tried, oh, we've tried so hard to be good. But the world rewards us when we're bad. Fate is driving me insane, it's forcing me to face. I must kill or be killed." The bridge and solo section of this song are perhaps the most unique parts of Will of the People. Starting with some heavy guitar chugs, the highlight immediately is apparent in the vocals. For the first time in Muse's studio catalog, Matthew Bellamy does a death growl. Traditionally, Matt has never had the chops to do a metal growl. Whenever he increases his singing volume, his voice goes higher, hence all the falsetto. He was able to pull it off for this song, however, and the result is spectacular. If I haven't also driven it into the ground by this point, the double bass drumming from Howard is also awesome. It's something Muse had only done a couple times before this point, and Kill or Be Killed is the first time they really dive into it. Just an amazing metal song from a band that traditionally doesn't go super heavy. 


Verona: Muse have covered a wide variety of emotions in their songs. Anger, hostility, pressure, chaos, love, anarchy, jealousy, and freedom just to name a few. One they haven't covered before, however, is nostalgia. The synthesizer and guitar in Verona perfectly encapsulate that emotion, along with love and a dreamy feeling of longing. More amazing vocals from Bellamy also contribute to these feelings. Not the most groundbreaking, unique, or crazy Muse song, but a solid track for Will of the People


Euphoria: This one is my favorite from the album. Perhaps that's due to its similarity to Black Holes and Revelations, but we'll get into that. This song is probably the most classic Muse sounding from Will of the People. The wavy, up and down synth line sounds like the guitar from Bliss, only more modernized and electronic. Given its name, Euphoria provides a rush upon listening. This is especially apparent with Wolstenholme's bass line. Grooving and powerful, his foundational bass sound is critical in the greatness of this song. Each name drop of the song's title is accompanied by a drum fill from Dom, along with Matt singing in falsetto. "Worn out, everything will fall apart. So shine a light and warm up this heavy heart. Give us euphoria! Brooding, I need renewing. I want satisfaction, a gut reaction. Give us euphoria, give us euphoria. It's been all work and no play. Give us euphoria, give us euphoria. I need to numb all the pain." The best part of Euphoria has to be the solo, however. The higher pitched notes are all played with whammy effect, accomplished with some insane tremolo picking. This song is the best of the best when it comes to Muse. From the drums to the bass to the absolutely incredible guitar playing, Euphoria delivers on everything it promises and more. 


We Are Fucking Fucked: During interviews for both this album and previous, the band has mentioned how difficult it can be to place songs in album order. That was not the case for this one. Given the title, there would be no other place on an album for this type of song than the end. While not the heaviest song on the album, these lyrics do hit pretty hard. "You really believe we can survive all of this. The black vacuum of the universe. It was designed to swallow us whole. It's a losing game. We're at death's door, another world war. Wildfires and earthquakes I foresaw. A life in crisis, a deadly virus. Tsunamis of hate are gonna find us. We are fucking fucked. We are fucking fucked." Pretty downer lyrics that sound like the apocalyptic Absolution. I guess when you're making a song about the current state of our world, it's pretty negative. While the message of this song is clear, the band also put some real thought and effort into the actual music itself. The fuzzy guitar sound combined with the distorted bass add to the doom and gloom atmosphere, with the bass being especially predominant. For the outro to both this song and Will of the People, We Are Fucking Fucked features some backup vocals on top of the bass. These are pretty special, as they contain the highest recorded studio note sung by Bellamy, who sings "Stockpile! and Hole Up!" This apocalyptic anthem was the perfect way to close out Will of the People, and is also up there in terms of Muse's best. 


It's time for some live comparisons. For obvious reasons, the Will of the People Stadium Tour primarily featured songs from Will of the People. As such, this will be the most extensive list of live comparisons from this series. To open the show in Denver, Muse fittingly began with Will of the People. The entire crowd chanting the vocal line was truly spectacular to hear, but the best part was the opening. The guitar riff had been substituted for chugs, making the song even heavier than usual. The band also performed this song with the WOTP masks on, further increasing how special this band is to see live. Further into the show, the band followed Stockholm Syndrome with Won't Stand Down. The guitar hits were even louder and clearer during the live performance, adding an extra layer of epic to this song. The sound mixing was on point, switching between ridiculously loud for the chorus and quieter during the verses. Chris' backup vocals were also a highlight, being the main feature of the track, along with Bellamy's screams. Each of these received a deserved cheer from the crowd. The next song was Compliance, easily one of the best parts of the show. From Matt belting out the vocals to confetti raining down on the crowd during the final chorus, this was a great performance. The synth was also given a different effect, sounding even more like something from Simulation Theory. Midway through the night, directly after Thought Contagion, was Verona. Like Compliance, Bellamy absolutely belted out these vocals. Just beautiful to listen to, especially live in a stadium. The next WOTP track was Halloween. After an organ solo from Matt where he played Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, the crowd knew exactly which song was coming next. Similarly to Won't Stand Down, the dynamic changes throughout the song made it especially fun to listen to live. Next up was We Are Fucking Fucked. Somehow, Muse took the already downer intro and made it even more depressing sounding. It was somber, and a brutal wake up call about the state of our reality. Chris' backup vocals were also featured more, along with some crazy distortion of Matt's voice during the chorus. Finally, the band started the encore with Kill or Be Killed. Hearing that death growl live made the crowd, including myself, go absolutely insane. Along with that, Matt also played the main guitar riff up an octave for the outro. Hearing this band play live is an incredible experience, and I recommend it to absolutely everyone. You will not regret it. Will of the People was the first Muse show I was able to see live, and it was the perfect first concert. The album itself was phenomenal. The more metal inspired tracks combined with the downer message and homages to previous albums earn WOTP an 8/10. 

While you may have been wanting to see my final ranking of all nine albums compared to each other, I simply cannot rank these works of art against each other. My favorite is Black Holes and Revelations, but every single album contains at least one of Muse's best songs. It would be a disservice to Muse to put anything in last place. I will, however, rank my top fifteen songs. This was extremely difficult, but I was able to put together a semi-solid list.

  1. Dead Inside

  2. Map of the Problematique 

  3. Citizen Erased

  4. Stockholm Syndrome

  5. Exogenesis Symphony (One, Two and Three)

  6. Assassin

  7. Reapers

  8. Knights of Cydonia

  9. Take a Bow

  10. Unsustainable

  11. Algorithm (Both Versions)

  12. Apocalypse Please

  13. Hoodoo

  14. New Born

  15. Fury

As far as an album ranking, I'll actually leave that up to you guys. I've included a poll, where you the reader can go and vote for your favorite Muse album.


What is Your Favorite Muse Album?

  • Showbiz

  • Origin of Symmetry

  • Absolution

  • Black Holes and Revelations



Before I wrap this final review up, I have a couple of final thoughts. Obviously, I adore this band. I believe that everything Muse have created is spectacular. Considering they have been going since 1999, they have proved time and time again that they still retain all of their skill and musical talent to this day. Their music is incredibly diverse, which is something a lot of bands struggle with. Many musicians find a style that works, and copy it for their entire existence. This isn't a problem for many, but for some it can become repetitive. While Muse definitely have their own signature sound, each album they produce has tracks that sound drastically different from one another. 

As promised, I'll end things with a special message. I would like to thank each and every one of you who have stuck around to the end of this series. When I started writing aMUSEings back in August, I had no idea how incredible of a response I would get. The first article, Muse Starts Strong with Showbiz, didn't even cover everything on that album. Since then, I decided to cover as many Muse songs as possible. We even dove into some B-Sides along the way. The best part of this whole thing, however, has been seeing the fan reaction. One of my good friends, Jackson Dean, was kind enough to lend his own feedback about aMUSEings. "Muse has a really good background. Their front man is classically trained and the other two musicians are really solid as well. Their early great reception means that they were able to establish a solid fanbase that keeps enjoying their music to this day. Muse is smart, they aren't your stereotypical band that only has a couple catchy songs. The skill of their musicians helps them to continue making great music. This series also helps show that."


This series was originally only supposed to last nine weeks. Instead, thanks to your help, feedback, and continued reading, I was able to improve my writing and expand on enough information to last a whole year.  It's hard to believe we have come all this way, considering how much music we have covered.  

And that is all thanks to you guys, my readers. Some of my posts for The Poudre Press are among the most viewed on the site. I can easily say that without you guys and your support, I wouldn't be in this position. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to write about my favorite band Muse, and share some great music with all of you. This series was even able to expand my love for this band if you can believe that. Again, thanks to everyone who has stuck around to see this series through to the end.

With that being said, this has been aMUSEings: A Music Review Series by Austin Eide.

Until next time, Cheers. 


 

Sources:

"Will of the People (Album)." MuseWiki, 2024

Lyrics Written by Matthew James Bellamy

Bio:

Austin Eide is currently a junior at Poudre High School. This will be his first year writing for the Poudre Press. He enjoys playing trumpet in the Pep Band and is also Captain of the Build Team for 159 Alpine Robotics. Austin also loves building with LEGO and making stop-motion movies on YouTube. His blog is dedicated to music, hockey, band, and more!






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