Muse is probably one of those bands that marked the 21st century, and will be talked for centuries to come. However, Muse’s path to success does not come without its share of controversy, and hard core fans’ deception. Even so, despite the success that made early time band followers displeased, that sort of critics is in the least, unfair (or so I will try to argue).
“Drones” is the response to that, and in good time it came.
When talking about stadium fillers bands, rock and modern music specialists a line or curve could be easily drawn in terms of music writing, where the x axis could be the alternative inclination, and the other hand the y axis the mainstream temptation.
Muse followed that tendency, but whereas other bands would pursue only for commercial success under the pressure of producers and untimely record companies; Muse, I believe, followed their own experimental design. Even if that meant compromising their musical roots a little bit.
If we look at Matthew Bellamy and Co.’s musical approach, and to some tracks of their least acclaimed records (I’m talking about the Resistance and 2nd Law of course), you can just easily see that. Despite of the above mentioned, they’re still on their track. Drones proves that. It almost seemed to me as if I was listening to “Origins of Symmetry”, but with a more sophisticated production.
The opening title follows the electronic approach of their latest musical arrangements. But we soon know that Undisclosed Desires or Madness are not going to show up (although, to me they’re unjustly labeled as over-commercial).
“Dead Inside” makes the intro to the concept approach of what Muse intend to portrait, an empty society coming from the most dystopic view of orwellianism, where individuals are utterly disrupted and torn apart by an almighty totalitarian state.
Christen Wolstenhome’s bass makes its mark once again, setting the pace, filling the back, with Dominic Howard’s sustaining beat, to a new wave revival zone, until the melodic chords of Bellamy’s guitar break in, along with his powerful treble sounds.
Dead Inside’s final emotional appealing can only be contrasted by the twisted-sadistic profile of Psycho. The music’s intro Sargeant Drill is an ultimate homage to Stan Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, to which the music could be easily used to a trailer.
The song is powerful, and always with Muse’s progressive trait, traceable back to Rush’s modern classic. The song’s core is its powerful riff that makes the military pace, in pure Bellamy’s tradition
But Muse’s hunger for heavy riff doesn’t end there. “Reapers” is a good example of the brilliant coordination between the long timed trio. They run through the several rock scenes, with a guitar driven orientation, leading to a exploding closing riff section in a classic Rage Against the Machine fashion.
“The Handler” and “Defector” continue w/ the guitar-driven distortion that we missed for so long. The fans asked for so long what happened to “Plug In Baby” and “Stockholm Syndrome”, well they’ve returned. Well we cannot really say they’ve fled, even 2nd Law managed to give us Animals and Survival.
Moreover the political motivation has been a constantly presence in Muse. And I fail to recognize if the younger listeners that so eagerly populate the stadium arenas know what really Bellamy means. Even so, Drones take those views to an album theme, not leaving the listener a chance to breathe other subjects. It draws a line to the inescapable power struggle between the individual and the state.
In its approach to that, Drones is a pessimistic album, but there are gaps on that negativity, Revolt is of that a clear example: A lighter song, portraying the individual’s capability of changing the world.
The musical arrangements, the album’s production and even the track position, can tell that there’s a path to be taken, when listening to the album, in true classic progressive vision.
Muse insist that the album is to be fully listened, despite of its strong singles. That’s why Aftermath rightfully succeeds revolt.
It seems that Muse made its way to success, and climbing down the path to roots, down the leaning curve.