Welcome to the Alternative Echo 31 Days of Songs Challenge. For the entirety of October, we will be tackling a different theme each day in an effort to spread appreciation for some of the best tracks out there.
What better way to start this adventure than with our first prompt: an intro track that perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album. An intro for an intro.
Now, as a concept-album aficionado, I’m well-versed in the world of intros and closers (bet you can’t figure out what the prompt is for day 31). However, I’m venturing away from the obvious choices and instead choosing a song that paints a story in its own right. A song that bombards your eardrums with a flurry of epic guitar riffs, strong orchestral chords and one of the most talented singer/guitarists in modern times.
Day One: An Intro Song
“Supremacy” by Muse
How this track never served as a score for an action film is beyond me. And apparently everyone else as well, since it’s quite often compared to any number of James Bond-type spy themes of the past. It only takes a few seconds of listening to understand why.
A highly charged steamroller of a song right from the beginning.
In a world that has long forgotten the true art of the guitar solo, Muse remains. While this track’s solo work may not rank among the top technique-driven guitar moments in Matt Bellamy’s illustrious career (seriously, this guy can play), it does feature an infectious melody you won’t be able to get out of your head, and serves as a perfect opener for an underrated album.
And let’s not forget those vocals. Bellamy has certainly mastered the rockstar falsetto.
The truly amazing thing about Bellamy is that he knows when to stop and when to go. He’s not a guitarist first, nor a vocalist. He’s equally both. An honest-to-goodness musician who can easily go off on his instrument at the right time, but knows how to scale it back when the music calls for it. (And of course we can’t forget the two other talented musicians who make up this trio: Chris Wolstenholme on bass and Dominic Howard on drums.)
After listening to Muse, and especially “Supremacy,” you can step back and say there wasn’t a time when the guitar over-powered the voice, or the voice over-powered the guitar. They blend together perfectly to create a multi-dimensional sound that artists the world over try their whole careers to emulate. Bellamy knows he can rip on the guitar. We all know that. But he also knows that no one likes a show-off, and no one wants a five-minute solo.
Or maybe you do. But I’m guessing you’re in the minority.
“Supremacy” is the fourth single on Muse’s sixth studio album, The 2nd Law. The album saw the massive radio success of “Madness” and… not much else. Truthfully, it didn’t go over well with critics or even fans for that matter. But I implore you to dig a little deeper.
The intro track lends some of its stunning power to “Survival,” “Animal” partners fun solo work with a steady pulse from the rhythm section, and we get to hear Wolstenholme’s earnest lyrics and vocals on “Save Me” and “Liquid State.” There’s a clear U2 influence in “Big Freeze,” while “Panic Station” will get you moving. And closing out the show, we’re handed an oddly satisfying experimentation of rock orchestra dub-step.
“Supremacy” lays out a map for exploring this 2nd Law. It gives you the motivation, power and strength to face whatever this journey has in store. And what an incredible journey it is.
Got a favorite intro track? Need to express your undying love for Muse? Sound off in the comments below.
Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia with editing from Nicole.