For a short time in late 1998 to early 2000 on the USA network, Farmclub was all the buzz. The show’s content featured “it” musical artists of the moment and promoted unsigned bands through national exposure and website interaction. It was hosted by music industry vet Matt Pinfield and model/actress Ali Landry. During the time it was on air, the show was responsible for a bunch of artists signing to major labels. One of the most legendary of these signings was when Chimaira performed on the show. On this night, they performed the song “Dead Inside” and it was one of those magical moments of TV performances that has gone on to live in infamy. Not long after this, Chimaira and Roadrunner Records would go on to work together. Between Farmclub and Reverb on HBO, we are definitely missing shows like that!
When you think of Muse you think of vibrant live shows with lots of lights and lasers. Not to mention the direction they went in after their breakthrough album Absolution. Shedding their Radiohead tendencies, Muse delved deep into their love of Queen. On their now seventh album Drones, Matt Bellamy and company took their love of all things Queen and added more guitars to it. Produced by Robert “Mutt” Lange (Def Leppard Pyromania and Hysteria, ACDC Back In Black), Drones is nestled deep in its concept and the arrangements are very tight, but the lyrics suffer. While the band has always been top notch musicians, the lyrics come across as high school and very conspiracy theory like.
There are a few saving graces on the album though. The song “Psycho” is an extremely heavy rocking song that I dare say should have been the first single instead of “Dead Inside. “Dead Inside” is your typical standard song you would expect from Muse nowadays. “Psycho” brings back that intensity that was found on Absolution and Showbiz. “Mercy” has an Ours-esque vibe in the vocal melody. One of the biggest things I noticed in listening to the album was the guitar style that Matt is playing with now. It’s as though he is trying to replicate Tom Morello’s sound and bring it to the Muse fold. Sadly though his attempt falls flat. This is very noticeable on the songs “Reapers” and “Defector.” One of the other highlights I found amongst the album was the song “Aftermath.” There is a really sweet melody that goes along with the song and the guitars sound like they are a part of a Cure song, making this one of the more enjoyable songs on the album. Album closer “The Globalist” starts off with an Ennio Morricone type opener, then proceeds to slow things down almost to a halt.
All in all the album as a whole is very underwhelming. I really enjoyed the albums Showbiz and Absolution. I wish they would go back to their Radiohead tendencies but with a heavier feel. Drones tries to show a more mature side of Muse, but it doesn’t quite get there. This album was supposed to be a more “back to basics” album, sadly their idea of basic isn’t what this turned out to be. Here’s hoping Muse gets back to what they started off as and they stop trying to go over the top with all their grandiose and Queen like vibe.