Reviewed by James Lavender
Innovative, creative and batshit crazy, Muse have revisited the political themes of their fifth album, The Resistance for their latest record, this time tackling the idea of drones. Matt Bellamy described the album as “the journey of a human, from their abandonment and loss of hope, to their indoctrination by the system to be a human drone, to their eventual defection from their oppressors”. The band wears their political messages on their sleeve. The album cover has a hand operating a joystick, like current drone pilots and one of the songs in named after the Reaper drones which inflict death from the skies.
Muse have come into a lot of criticism from not just music critics, but even from their own fans, for tackling politics and conspiracies theories which they believe has detracted from Muse’s recent artistic output. Taking those viewpoints aside, and listening to Drones as an album, Muse have yet again produced a highly-listenable rock album which will please fans and critics alike.
Drones is a traditional concept album in the Pink Floyd prog rock vein. It has a clear first, second and third acts. Dead Inside is all about breaking the main character emotions by the military. This is made clear by ‘Drill Sergeant’, a skit in which a Drill Sergeant barks out orders ‘Full Metal Jacket’ style. The songs Psycho, Mercy and Reapers all reflect the characters changes into a drone. It is only when the character listens to speech by President Kennedy (‘JFK’), the character rebels against the drones in the songs ‘Defector’, ‘Revolt’ and ‘Aftermath’.
As in their previous work, the band brings a sense of drama to the record, with the screaming chorus of ‘Dead Inside’ to the robotic sounds of ‘Reaper’. They fuse electronic and rock music, and add a bit of gothic atmosphere to the mix.
This album represents what Muse do best, a fusion of electro and rock music into a progressive rock concept album. Some people will hate it, some people will love it. It’s by no means a classic and it doesn’t come close to matching the heights of Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations, but it is dramatic and thought-provoking.
Recommended Track: Reapers