Review: Drones

As an aside, before I start this review I just realised that this is my 100th post on altrocklife!  It’s always exciting to reach milestones like this, and I’ve had a fantastic time writing all of these posts.  Thanks to all of my loyal readers who have continued to read altrocklife, and I look forward to the next 100 posts.

Back to the matter at hand: Drones is the seventh studio album by Muse, the Devon three-piece formed in 1994.  I’m one of those rare creatures that has enjoyed everything Muse have ever released.  In my opinion, even though Muse have never really stuck to one genre and continued to experiment with their sound, every musical risk they’ve taken has paid off.

Saying that, Drones is a return to Muse’s heavier, prog-rock roots, and it sounds absolutely fantastic.  Vocalist Matt Bellamy’s wailing vocals are as powerful as ever and strong throughout, and there are plenty of instrumentals and guitar solos that are sure to keep every listener happy.  Plus, for fans of The 2nd Law, electronic influences still play a role on this record.

The record has a good mixture of heavier tracks, such as Psycho and Defector, and slower ballads like Mercy.  The autotune and heavy use of synthesisers in Reapers adds something a bit different to the track and helps it to stand out from the rest of the album.  And for fans of Muse’s 2003 album Absolution, The Handler has been lauded as Stockholm Syndrome on steroids, or its cooler, more badass older brother.  The title track is a bit of a strange way to end the album, in my opinion, but that doesn’t detract from the overall package.

Muse’s most recent albums have followed a theme, and Drones is no different: Matt Bellamy, in an interview with NME, hinted that the album would follow the themes of World War Three, deep ecology and the empathy gap.  These themes are apparent in every song on the album, which helps to make it a more complete package.

Drones weighs in at almost an hour long, and with almost every song over four minutes long, each track is a saga in its own right.  The two short filler tracks help to break the album into more manageable chunks.  I was listening to the album on Spotify Free, which saddens me as I was unable to access The Globalist, which is a Spotify Premium exclusive.  The album doesn’t seem to suffer without it, however having never heard that track I’m unaware of what I’m missing.

One criticism I have is that, by the time of its UK release on June 8, Muse had already released seven out of the 12 Drones tracks.  This made listening to the finished package a little underwhelming: it’s difficult to get excited while listening to an album for the first time, when you’ve already heard over half of the tracks.  That doesn’t make the record any less fantastic, though!  To be fair to Muse, with so many amazing tracks on the album, I’d struggle picking two or three to release as singles as well.

To conclude, for existing Muse fans who enjoyed their first three albums, this album should be a dream come true.  In my opinion, this band can do no wrong, and I’m extremely jealous of everyone who’ll be seeing them headline Download Festival this weekend.  My favourite music is music with a message, and Drones is certainly that.

Highlights: The Handler, Reapers, Defector

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