Muse released their 6th album, The 2nd Law, in October 2012. It showed Muse going even bigger than before, incorporating more electronics, choirs, and dubstep in their effort to experiment ever more. It also gave bassist Chris Wolstenholme the chance to take over singing duties on two songs that he wrote, “Save Me” and “Liquid State.” Add to the mix epics like “Supremacy” and “Survival,” grooves “Panic Station” and “Madness,” and the mainly instrumental commentaries on humanity – “Unsustainable” and “Isolated System” – and you have a very diverse and impressive record.
The 2nd Law was a continuation of Muse’s previous record The Resistance, which was also more grandiose and experimental than their earlier work. However, Muse may sidestep into something more “back to basics” on their next album. Instead of growing ever more expansive and flashy, it is time for Muse to return to their roots.
Throughout the end of 2014 and early 2015, Muse worked quickly on their new album. Drones was announced in March, with a release date set for June 9th. Muse rapidly unleashed numerous new songs, starting with “Psycho,” their first official singe, “Dead Inside,” “Mercy,” and “Reapers.” Drones is a concept album, and most of the songs somehow include the title in the lyrics. The music ranges from classic heavy Muse to Origin Of Symmetry-styled Muse, to a newer sound more akin to “Madness.”
Drones finally came out on June 8th, and did not disappoint. It is a standout album, one of the best of 2015, and one of Muse’s best in their career.
Thinking About the Next Album: Stripped Down & Back to Their Roots
The first discussion of Muse’s 7th album came when frontman Matt Bellamy spoke to Rolling Stone in December 2013. At the time, he had this to say about the follow-up to The 2nd Law:
Yeah. It’s interesting because the writing pretty much began the next day after the Rome show. I’ve got a pretty good picture of what I’d like the next album to be like. It’s the come-down and the sort of waking up the next day being like, “What the fuck? What the fuck? That was crazy.”
In some ways, the band has gone on this pretty insane journey since we formed as teenagers. Back then, we weren’t very outgoing on stage. We were very sort of off to ourselves, hiding behind the music. In some ways, the Rome gig almost represents a complete upside-down journey of personality from where we started. I want to bring it back to just being about the music that we are playing, about the instruments, the guitar, the bass, the drums and these personalities.
I have this strong feeling that the next album should be something that really does strip away the additional things that we’ve experimented with on the last two albums, which is electronics, symphonics and orchestral work and all that kind of stuff. I kind of feel like it will be nice to reconnect and remind ourselves of just the basics of who we are.
He also added:
The idea is. . . I mean, it’s early because we haven’t made the album yet. I have to put a disclaimer here and say that whatever I say now is likely to be contradicted when I go into the studio. But if I was to predict now, as I said, we definitely want to get more expressive and a bit more about the musicianship of the band and the instruments that we play and who we are and make sure that is the prominent sound of the next album.
In other words, again, I want to strip away the electronics and the orchestral elements and so on.
Twitter Q&A: Muse Will “Get Heavy” in Summer 2015
The band was silent for the first half of 2014, but in July Matt Bellamy revealed some exciting information about Muse’s next album. In a brief Twitter Q&A, Matt confirmed that the new album will be out by summer 2015 and that it will “get heavy.” That’s great news for fans that love their heavier songs, like “Stockholm Syndrome” from their third album, Absolution. It also sounds like Muse is staying true to what they had said in December.
Here’s what Matt had to say to his eager fans:
@Cylux yes, going well. We hope to have it ready for next summer.
— Matt Bellamy (@MattBellamy) July 21, 2014
@Tanb013 yes. It's gonna get heavy.
— Matt Bellamy (@MattBellamy) July 21, 2014
For now, we’re still a ways off from hearing Muse’s next record. More is sure to be revealed in the coming months.
In The Studio: October’s Social Media Updates
After months of teasing fans with hints about their next album, Muse has finally started actually recording it in the first week of October 2014. And although the band is usually fairly quiet about the process, this time around they seem to want to share the whole experience with their fans. Since they began recording earlier this month, Muse has shared plenty of behind-the-scenes photos and videos from their studio. Some even give some clues as to how album #7 will sound.
In addition to these fun studio sneak peeks, singer Matt Bellamy has also had time to answer some fans’ questions. He confirms that Muse is still in the early stages, but hope to have their 7th album out next summer:
“@showbiz_muser: @MattBellamy Is it premature to ask about a release date?. We're just starting out, hopefully next summer
— Matt Bellamy (@MattBellamy) October 6, 2014
Robert John “Mutt” Lange is Producing the New Album
On October 23rd, Muse revealed some exciting news: Their 7th album will be produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange!
Mutt Lange is a legendary producer behind some of the biggest albums in history. He produced AC/DC’s album, Back In Black, which is one of the best selling albums of all time. Mutt Lange also produced Shania Twain’s Come On Over, the best selling album by a solo female artist of any genre. He’s also produced other AC/DC and Shania Twain albums, plus records by bands such as Maroon 5, Nickelback, and Def Leppard.
November – January: Social Media Updates
On November 4th, Muse was back in the studio working on their new songs.
On December 16th, Muse shared a video of an orchestra! Muse and strings are always a good mix.
A month passed before we got more updates. With the holidays and a new year, the trio needed a break before getting back to work. But in late January they had more videos to share:
The guitar sounds a bit like “Invincible” from Black Holes & Revelations…
February brought a big announcement: Muse’s new album is evidently called Drones.
On February 28th, Matthew Bellamy took to Twitter to make an announcement supposedly about a lead single:
— Matt Bellamy (@MattBellamy) February 28, 2015
He posted a few articles talking about psychopaths, and confirmed to a fan that these do indeed relate to Muse’s upcoming first single:
“@ryleeishaught: @MattBellamy can't tell if you're hinting album themes or just expressing your opinion via social media" Single 1 Theme
— Matt Bellamy (@MattBellamy) March 3, 2015
“@WeUsedToShine: @MattBellamy so are rumors about airing the single on the radio true?” Too offensive for radio…
— Matt Bellamy (@MattBellamy) March 3, 2015
— Matt Bellamy (@MattBellamy) March 3, 2015
Fans can now hear a preview of “Psycho” below!
On March 10th, Matt promised that a big announcement would be coming the following day…
— Matt Bellamy (@MattBellamy) March 10, 2015
On March 11th, Muse announced that their new album, Drones, will be released on June 8th! In the United States, this will be June 9th.
To kick things off, Muse was also doing a quick UK tour – the Psycho Tour – starting that Sunday.
You can see the full, 12-song track listing from Drones below:
1. Dead Inside
2. [Drill Sergeant]
6. The Handler
11. The Globalist
On March 12th we got to hear the first full track from the record: “Psycho” is as heavy as they promised, and a throwback to Muse’s older style. This is a song that would have been at home on Showbiz, Origin Of Symmetry, or Absolution. “Psycho” is the perfect first song to hear from Muse’s Drones, and it comes with a well-done lyric video featuring the band and an intimidating drill sergeant:
“Psycho” is heavy thanks to their low tuning, and has a slightly bluesy sound. Combine that with Matt Bellamy’s signature political lyrics and you have the perfect Muse song. It represents a welcome return to Muse’s earlier musical style, and it will be interesting to see if that carries throughout the whole album.
Although “Psycho” is our first taste of Drones, “Dead Inside” was revealed to be the first official single. It was set for release later in the month.
On Sunday, March 15th, Muse kicked off their mini Psycho Tour, and to make the occasion that much more special, they debuted a new song. “Reapers” is the fifth track from their upcoming concept album Drones.
If you love old school Muse, this song is for you. “Reapers” has a distinct Origin Of Symmetry vibe – everything from the guitars and vocals to the overall energy. Its verses sound chipper enough, but the choruses have more grit, with heavier guitars and whispered warnings of “drones.” So far, Drones is shaping up to be a perfect Muse album. Check out this video of “Reapers” from Barrowland, Glasgow on March 16th:
Muse wasn’t done yet. March madness continued with their new lead single on March 23rd. “Dead Inside” opens Drones on a chill, rather ’80s note. The song is most comparable to Muse’s 2012 single, “Madness” – both have an R&B sound that stray from Muse’s generally more rock style.
Although “Dead Inside” is a complete 180 from “Psycho” musically, the lyrics hold the concept album together. After a relationship gone wrong, the protagonist ends up just like his ex: Someone who seems warm to the touch, but inside there’s no life left. It can be speculated that “Dead Inside” is based on singer Matt Bellamy’s recent split from fiancée Kate Hudson.
This makes three for three songs so far the mention the album’s title at some point. Check out the slick lyric video below:
“Dead Inside” is a different song, but it works well in Muse’s diverse catalog.
Muse started filming the music video for “Dead Inside” on April 2nd:
On April 28th, Muse released the official music video for “Dead Inside” –
On May 19th, Muse surprised fans with another new Drones song: “Mercy” is piano-driven and heartfelt, and slightly reminiscent of their 2006 power ballad “Starlight.” Muse has already filmed the official music video for “Mercy,” but to tide us over we have a nicely done lyric video instead:
“Mercy” comes early on in the Drones concept album, and is a pivotal moment for the main character – as frontman Matt Bellamy explains:
The opening line of “Mercy” – “Help me I’ve fallen on the inside”- is a reference to the protagonist knowing and recognizing that they have lost something, they have lost themselves. This is where they realize they’re being overcome by the dark forces that were introduced in “Psycho.”
This fits into the overarching story told throughout Drones. As Rolling Stone recently reported, the album is “a concept about the dehumanizing aspects of drone technology.” Matt was inspired by the book Predators: The CIA’s Drone War on al Qaeda by Brian Glyn Williams. As he elaborated to Rolling Stone:
I was shocked. I didn’t know how prolific drone usage has been. I always perceived Obama as an all-around likable guy. But from reading the book, you find out that most mornings he wakes up, has a breakfast and then goes down to the war room and makes what they call “kill decisions.” He makes that decision based on a long chain of intelligence people who, as we all know, can be very unreliable.
You can read more from the Drones interview at Rolling Stone.
Muse first debuted “Reapers” live in March 2015, but on May 29th they offered up the studio version of the song. “Reapers” is catchy and heavy – more similar to “Psycho” than “Dead Inside” – and recalls Origin Of Symmetry. The lyric video brings the words and concept album’s theme to life, showing an unidentified man trying to escape an evil drone that trails his every move. Check it out:
On June 2nd Muse shared “The Handler,” a song with a heavy bass and refreshing old school Muse vibe. Matt lets his vocals slide up into his falsetto register during the chorus as the beat stops time.
The “Handler” lyric video is as mesmerizing as the song itself. An evil looking puppeteer is surrounded by a carousel of well-known characters and toys: Alice from Alice In Wonderland, Pinocchio, the pumpkin carriage from Cinderella, a teddy bear, a faced moon, and more circle above Muse as the band plays through “The Handler.” Watch it below:
“The Handler” comes at a pivotal point for the album’s protagonist. As Matt described to Rolling Stone:
They’re about being overcome by these oppressive forces. Midway through “The Handler,” in the darkest places, the protagonist, or me, since I’m singing in the first person, feels this desire to actually feel something. They decide, “I don’t want to be used by others. I don’t want to be controlled. I don’t want to be a cold, non-feeling person. I want to actually feel something.” The desire to fight against the oppressors sinks in.
“[JFK]” + “Defector”
Muse had no intention of slowing down, and on June 3rd they offered up a ’60s styled lyric video for “[JFK]” and “Defector.” The video opens with a John F. Kennedy speech backed by Muse’s orchestral music, before ripping into a comparatively lighthearted, but punchy, song about breaking free. “Defector” isn’t as heavy as a few other songs – rather, it offers some much-needed optimism for the Drones protagonist. The lyric video keeps with the times, and Muse appears on an old TV looking like a modern twist on the Beatles. Check it out:
“Mercy” Music Video
On June 8th, in conjunction with the Drones release, “Mercy” got an official music video with a science fiction plot. It’s set in a dystopian world and focuses on a blonde girl who seems to be studied and controlled by the men in suits around her. Things are unclear until a twist in the middle when the girl finds out there are others like her. Check it out below:
Drones Is Released
On June 8th, after months of building anticipation, Drones was finally released for all to hear. With more than half of the album out before the official release date, there wasn’t much left to surprise fans, but what was there was worth the extra wait. Drones marks a conscious step back towards their roots, and instead of jettisoning even farther into the musical stratosphere, Muse decided to make music that goes back to their roots a bit. Although Muse does grandiosity very well, they are also excellent at just rocking out; Drones captures this recently rare side of the band, and brings back an extra spark that may have been missed of late. As we wrote in our review, Drones is Muse’s best album in nearly a decade, and represents a welcome return to their roots. While we love epics like “Supremacy” and “United States Of Eurasia,” we also love the guitar-bass-drums aggression that Drones brings back.