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By James Cerche
9th June 2015

With seven studio albums to the their name, its easy to look at the Muse catalogue in two distinctive parts. The early trio of records beginning with 1999’s ‘Showbiz’ and ending with 2003’s ‘Absolution’ are anxious, expulsions of rage and insecurity. 2001’s ‘Origin Of Symmetry’ stands up as their highest point to date, fusing the adolescent agitation of their debut with the burgeoning pomp that would later engulf the group entirely. ‘Black Holes & Revelations’ bridges the transition into the less critically appealing, through probably more commercially successful (thanks to the ‘Twilight’ market) phase. ‘Drones’ backs up the 2009’s ‘The Resistance’ and 2012’s ‘The 2nd Law’ as another sweeping criticism of the larger world that spreads itself so wide that it fails to strike many personal notes.


Finally making true on their promise to step back to a simpler guitar, drums and bass sound, ‘Drones’ sees Muse largely returning to the heavy riffs of their early 2000s period. The problem is still the lyrics. With Bellamy calling for “freedom” and wailing about “control” in such a mathematical fashion, the whole affair feels limp and empty. Even the hard rocking riffs feel a little contained under their shiny production coat. Muse’s obsession with drawing parallels to contemporary society and Orwell’s ‘1984’ ran dry years ago and it sinks what should have been a seething breakup record by keeping itself agonisingly general.

There’s plenty of hulking riffs to slam out on your air guitar with the likes of ‘The Handler’ and ‘Psycho’ providing some sonic grit. ‘Dead Inside’ cashes in on the 80s revival trend, sounding decidedly Depeche Mode in intention and Queen in execution. The most interesting point on show is how Muse decide to the end the record. The 10 minute Morricone-infused ‘The Globalist’ boasts a glimmer of brilliance by making you want to revisit the perfection that was 2001’s ‘Citizen Erased’, although it never ascends to those heights. We’re finally left with the insanity of an epically detailed acapella ditty on the album’s self-titled closing track. Bellamy has painstaking constructed a mass of his own classical vocals into a detailed choral arrangement, riffing on the phrase, “Killed by drones.” It’s utterly insane but it does bring up some interesting emotional responses to the subject matter through its bizarre delivery. 

‘Drones’ sees Muse largely returning to the heavy riffs of their early 2000s period.

Muse are a band of highly skilled musicians who seem resigned to floundering with their desire to send big messages. ‘Drones’ will likely make a lot of people very happy and will doubtlessly translate into a gargantuan live spectacle, but it struggles to move in on you at any great depth like the tortured classics of a once thrilling youth.

BAND: Muse
MEMBERS: Matthew Bellamy
Chris Wolstenholme
Dominic Howard
FORMED: 1994
FROM: Teighnmouth, Devon
SOUND: Alt Rock / Prog
TWITTER: @muse
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