Muse are back with their seventh studio album, and the question on everyone’s lips was whether they could better their last one.
2012’s The 2nd Law topped the charts in 21 countries, so it was no surprise that Drones went straight to No 1 in the UK album charts at the weekend.
Opening track Dead Inside is a gentle introduction by their standards, but after that the bombast kicks in - and then some.
Psycho is as mad as its title suggests, and sees Matt Bellamy and his band at their best, with more than five minutes of Led Zep-style riffing, set to a typically propulsive rhythm.
Mercy is perhaps the most commercial-sounding song on the album, and must be pencilled in as a future single.
The magnificent Reapers reminds us - as if we could ever forget - what an absolute guitar genius Bellamy is, while Defector showcases Muse at their heaviest (and most Queen-like).
The post-apocalyptic comedown of Aftermath provides some light relief, but the 10-minute epic The Globalist is the band at their most ambitious.
Starting off like a theme from a Lee Van Cleef movie, it explodes in a morass of guitars, before coming back to earth, after meandering in so many different directions it’s like half a dozen songs melded into one.
The title track, which closes this astonishing album, forsakes instrumentation all together, instead featuring layer after layer of harmonies in something more akin to a church choir than one of the biggest rock bands on the planet.
Big? Yes. Overblown? Of course. An album of the year contender? Definitely. 9/10. GW