01. Dead Inside
02. [Drill Sergeant]
06. The Handler
11. The Globalist
Controversy is always good. Different opinions are welcome, especially here at NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION. And every now and then an album comes along that ignites a vital discussion. The new MUSE album Drones is such an album. Fans all over the world have been waiting desperately for the seventh studio album by Matt Bellamy and his colleagues. Every MUSE record is a spectacle and also a well calculated attempt to top its predecessor. Drones marks no exception and delivers a variety of ideas and emotions. It’s full of big gestures, political statements and big images – both visual and musically. And we got two different opinions on it.
Thumbs up: Let’s keep those war anthems young and free
They might formed in the early 90’s and get closer to their 40’s, but Matthew and his colleagues know what life is about: living for the moment and never forget that age is only a number. The three ‚boys‘ are not afraid to keep the sound on their latest LP naughty, fresh and with the perfect note of good old rock and roll. Dead Inside might be the title of the opener, but MUSE sound alive, from every edge of their body. Following the dubstep and r&b experiments on The 2nd Law their new album Drones celebrates the intensity of pure and unfiltered rock and roll, at least in a few songs. Tracks like Psycho and The Handler lead back to the band’s earlier days. And I don’t mean 2009’s The Resistance; we’re talking about Origin Of Symmetry and Absolution here, only added with a few more electronic elements and dramatic synths. MUSE re-discover the grungy side of their early days. The signs hint towards war. That’s the image Drones loves to create. You are on an empty field and there is an army on its way; cranked up machines. You are fighting against rules, against society. And by no later than listening to Defector you get the impression you can win every battle and conquer the world. Quite an imagination, but that is how Drones affects your brain when hearing it through over-ear headphones with the almighty big bass.
MUSE have always been close to the ‘classic rock’ field, closer than they might admit. You will find some of those anthems (Revolt, Reapers) again throughout the big fight. MUSE tell a dystopian story and created a concept album to tell this tale with their own catchy songs. They are starting the rebellion, until the big collide happens. It can be heard through the lyrics and the sound. After the storm there is always peace. On Aftermath this point is finally reached, the silky melody bursts out the hard and rocky sound of the previous pieces. Still, the guitars aren’t done yet as The Globalist delivers 10 minutes of rock opera madness. Well, you need to have that New Born/ Knights Of Cydonia tune on every MUSE record after all, right? The album ends with its title track which could easily work as the band’s metaphorical entry to nirvana. A mysterious and sacred tune filled with choirs and an undeniable ecclesiastical vibe. There’s no doubt: Heads will role after this big showdown of classic rock and electronic-synth accessories! MUSE deliver a fascinating and strong new album, one that is more than just a record. It’s an ambitious idea; edgy, sexy and loud. You better be prepared for these Drones.
by Kai Hermann
Thumbs down: Reaching the dead-end
It might be too easy to fall for the good-old ‘band gets famous and explores new music fields’-argumentation. And bashing MUSE has become a far too easy hobby in the past years, especially by the first generation of MUSE fans who wish the good-old uncommercial times of Origins Of Symmetry would have never ended. But the British three-piece never stood still, they evolved and grew out of the post-grunge corset to become a global phenomenon and always adventurous. They tried out synthpop, R&B and even SKRILLEX-inspired glitch/dubstep breaks on their last record. Besides that Matt Bellamy always found time to include his love for classical music in the sound of MUSE. It was a wild and furious ride. Every album got bigger, every idea more ambitious. The decline was inevitable and here it comes. Drones is the overdue back-clash and, at least for me, the first time MUSE sound predictable and uninspired.
Just take Mercy for a start. A song like it’s been build with the help of a MUSE instruction manual. They sound like a bad cover version of themselves, delivering a poor Starlight rip-off. The return to the grungy roots of the band ended up being far to polish. There’s nothing raw in this slick production. It might be loud and driven but it feels a bit pretentious. Especially MUSE‘s attempt to romanticize the aspect of revolution. What was intended to work as anthems against political oppression and a call to arms sounds like shallow phrases? ‘You’ve got strength, you’ve got soul/ You’ve felt pain, you’ve felt love/ You can grow, you can grow/ You can make this world what you want/ You can revolt’ (Revolt). That’s a new low point even for Bellamy. These cliched and shallow phrases are not entirely new but it’s way more sensible on Drones than before. It feels as just another excuse to keep that big show train running. MUSE have always been about the big gesture, that over-the-top element. It’s about production, theatrical approach and big words. But if you look behind it Drones just lacks of good material, fresh ideas and something that makes you say ‘Oh, that was surprising’ at least a bit. MUSE became a victim of their own entitlement and their still stunning discography of the past 15 years. Maybe it’s time to step back a bit, take a longer break or just let it be. After seven albums the MUSE principle reached a dead-end. The revolution might come but I seriously doubt that it’s gonna be from these guys.
by Norman Fleischer