After listening to the 7th album by Muse I felt a little like I'd been kicked in the face. I don't know that any album has left me as perplexed as 'Drones'. Trying to anticipate any new release by this band is a challenge but this one, hailed as a return to roots, is possibly the most confronting yet. I've been a fan of the band long enough to know to expect the unexpected, I just don't know that unexpected even begins to cover this journey.
This is a concept album, in as much as that is a broad term for anything with a theme, and it is most definitely a progression from track 1, 'Dead Inside' through to track 12 'Drones'. To appreciate Matthew Bellamy's story of a person losing hope and falling prey to the control of dark forces, indoctrinated if you will, through their battle against said forces to their ultimate defection you need to listen to this in order. This is not a "throw it on shuffle" album. That said, it's a mighty confronting ride.
'Dead Inside' sets the tone for the story - loss of hope, in the guise of a broken love story. It's not quite a ballad. Very emotional lyrics about a partner's complete lack of soul and the struggle with that, before succumbing to the same fate. Bellamy's voice is strong and beautiful here.
'Psycho' is where we are exposed to the antagonists of the story. Here are the dark forces blasting their way in to suck up all the soulless and convert them into their puppets. Their drones. This song has a distinct'Uprising' feel to it, with the thumping rhythm, and the inevitable sing-along bound to come at the opportunity to scream "a fucking psycho", and "your ass belongs to me now" at the top of your lungs. This will be monster live. This track also features a riff that fans will recognise as the outro to Stockholm Syndrome andMap of the Problematique.
'Mercy' opens with a piano that brings 'Starlight' to mind. Here the protagonist realises he is succumbing to the dark forces. It's a pop/rock blend and quite the earworm.
'Reapers' is up next. This track, when released prior to the album, was one that had me feeling like we were getting an album containing "old" Muse. It's frenetic, and in-your-face. Old-school but new. One of the best tracks, with the live outro from Plug In Baby incorporated, and heavy references to Rage Against The Machine.
'The Handler' is my favourite track on this album by a country mile. This is the siren's call luring all the lost Muse fans home. Listening to this you can forgive the glitch in the matrix that led to Neutron Star Collision and all things Twilight. Chris Wolstenholme delivers unapologetically filthy, grungy bass in this song, yet he also possesses a feather-light touch that dances across the frets and, coupled with Dominic Howard's massive drums it is one of the darkest works to date. Lyrically our protagonist reaches a turning point and realises he does not want to be controlled.
Following 'The Handler' is a 54 second track featuring John F. Kennedy speaking on communism, subversion, and stealth. Backed by strings it leads directly into 'Defector'. Queen harmonies abound. The heavily distorted bass is a nice contrast to the vocals, but overall the song feels a bit repetitive. The protagonist is shaking himself of the shackles of the dark forces and there's a lighter feel. It is book-ended by JFK's speech.
'Revolt' follows on and this is one with which I struggled. A startling burst of pop optimism which is almost too much perk to handle after the depths of what has gone before. The lyrics are all about inspiration and hope, but to these ears it sounded all a bit Eurovision. As with many things Muse there's a strong possibility it will grow into a favourite, but right about now I'm squirming in my chair.
'Aftermath' is a welcome relief, opening with strings and guitar which brings Dire Straits to mind momentarily. Here is a ballad in emotional opposition to 'Dead Inside'. Some beautiful, delicate guitar by Bellamy in this, before it rises to a more anthemic climax. The protagonist has found love, and hope, once again.
'The Globalist' opens with whistling and some serious Morricone vibes, then moves into a slide guitar section, before the vocals begin and tell the tale of the rise and fall of a dictator. Bellamy stated during an interview on Radio 1 that this was the sequel to 'Citizen Erased'. The middle section of this track suddenly goes mental - with a heavy riff that seems to be 'Helsinki Jam' from the Resistance Tour gigs. This section is a corker - a face-melting corker that ends all too soon as it fades into a piano solo by Bellamy.
'Drones' is the final track - a hymnal, A capella song with layers of Bellamy vocals. It is an eerie and ghostly lament to the victims of drone warfare.
Have they returned to their roots? Maybe. This is definitely them sans the electronics and dubstep they've previously visited. When they hit their rock stride they're as bold and unique as ever they were, and possibly the strongest sound of their careers. Bellamy is a frighteningly intelligent man and leaves you pondering if he's a genius, bat-shit crazy, or both. Certainly he is a deep-thinker andhis fascination with the disconnect between humanity and society is more than relevant, as is the loss of empathy to which this album alludes.
Hard to know how to rate this one because I'm still trying to digest what I've heard. As a concept album it holds true to its story, with strong and clear arcs, it's just some of the steps along the way where I'm not sure if it stumbles or I do in the wake of Bellamy's thought processes. There are many really beautiful, creative, and clever musical elements to this album. I suspect Muse will continue to divide listeners, as they always have, and just maybe that's perfectly fine with them.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are gracing our shores on the 28th of November at Galatos. After a 4-year hiatus, they have burst back onto the scene and headed straight for the spot they are most familiar with, number 1 on the Billboard Christian Rock Charts.
Breakups are never easy - whether it's a romantic tryst, a teenage crush, or with a young Mark and his favourite band Dream Theater, that dark moment when founding keyboardist Kevin Moore left the group in 1994.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
To this day I still remember my introduction to Sepultura - camped out in the granny flat bedroom of long-time friend Kerry - a live version of their cover of Motörhead's Orgasmatron, and from there it continues to this day
Due to incredible demand, internationally renowned award-winning musician, comedian, actor, writer and composer TIM MINCHIN has today announced a third and final Auckland show as part of his Australasian tour of his live show BACK.
Legendary, GRAMMY-award winning band FLEETWOOD MAC today announced an Australian and New Zealand tour, set to kick off on August 9 with two shows in Auckland on September 16 and 19, along with a welcome return to Dunedin on September 21.
California’s radical sons, The Growlers arrive in the country this week for the start of the Australian leg of their mammoth worldwide ‘Beach Goth’ tour. In what is guaranteed to be a rollicking, majestic wave of movements all around our golden coast,
Timaru’s iconic Soundshell in Caroline Bay will host two of the most well-known bands in New Zealand in a one-day entertainment extravaganza this January. Katchafire and The Black Seeds will headline the R18+ event at the Soundshell on Saturday, January 26, 2019. They’ll be joined by The Butlers.
In true kiwi summer tour tradition Marlon Williams will now take The Tūrangawaewae Tour to a further six markets this February making it a total of 12 shows - Marlon’s most comprehensive New Zealand tour ever!
With sounds primed for a hot summer ahead, Christchurch four piece Mako Road have arrived with the perfect soundtrack for long nights, cold drinks and hazy days with the ‘Local Safari’ EP, which releases today.
“Music can bring us all together, it bonds us, it strengthens us...” this song “Your Guardian Angel” by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus has been dedicated to Toyah Cordingley.
Please spread the word to anyone who loves the song, or has lost someone too early also, feel free to leave any dedications in the comments of which we will share direct for Toyahs’ family and the band to see.
On the heels of releasing several collaborative hit tracks this year, five-time Grammy Award-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson returns with a brand new single of his own ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring Miley Cyrus.
George Ezra toured the world nonstop for more than two years following the release of his debut LP Wanted On Voyage, finally making it to Aotearoa for one of the standout sets of this year’s Auckland City Limits.
Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops the popular stars of the Emmy nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway? have teamed up to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy for one show only at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
In a New Zealand first, five of the stars of Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse, Al Strobel, Dana Ashbrook and the Executive Producer of Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series, Sabrina S. Sutherland, will visit Auckland and Christchurch for an exclusive and unique CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS evening.
Singer Elaine Paige has announced an 8-date series of concerts from October 10 to October 25 2018, which will see her perform songs from her illustrious career along side an array of her favourite tracks by contemporary songwriters.
The critically acclaimed, award-winning comedian and actor, Catherine Tate, is bringing The Catherine Tate Show - Live to New Zealand for the first time, with shows in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch commencing November 28, 2018.
It has been announced overnight that Last Tapes Theatre Company's original production Valerie has been selected for a month-long season in the prestigious Summerhall programme at Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August.
Featuring Brouhaha: choreographer Malia Johnston, composer Eden Mulholland, AV designer Rowan Pierce; In Transit: choreographer Louise Potiki Bryant, composer/AV designer Paddy Free; The Geography of an Archipelago: choreographer Stephen Shropshire, composer Chris O’Connor.