Review ·

The thickset blues-rock of Havilah, the fifth studio album from the Drones, makes for opaque and impenetrable listening. Stodgy layers of guitar prevail throughout, and the production is so dense that the end product feels like an hour-long huff on a rusty exhaust pipe. Singer Gareth Liddiard only adds to the bottomless well of oppression, spending most of the album howling like early-'90s grunge angst never went out of fashion. Aside from a few witty lyrics, this is one of the least lighthearted records you’re likely to hear all year.

Havilah’s opening two tracks, “Nail it Down” and “The Minotaur,” set the tone. Condensed guitar riffs grind like power tools, with Liddiard spitting lyrical bile over the top. The Drones are a band out of time, an old fashioned four-piece unit whose dogged rigidity rarely allows then to deviate from the basic tenets of rock 'n' roll. They play loud, with passion and without a care for any technological advances that may have infected the music scene in the last 40 years.

Some of these are admirable qualities, of course, but they often stray too close to cliché to actually make Havilah something that stands out from the lumpen mire of blues-infused rock acts. They’re not capable of practicing the same giddy experimentation of upcoming rock bands like Women or Abe Vigoda. Nor are they able to wallow in the same gloriously gloomy lows as, say, Come’s Eleven: Eleven or Neil Young’s On the Beach. Instead, the Drones specialize in the kind of mid level depress-o-rock that the Smashing Pumpkins have been peddling on-and-off for the best part of two decades.

There’s a lack of lyrical and sonic invention in the Drones' sound, and with the run time of Havilah pushing the hour mark, the combination of humdrum guitar riffs and Liddiard’s trite howl becomes grating. They occasionally ease the mood on quieter numbers such as “The Drifting Housewife” and “Cold and Sober,” but even these songs feel like a barely realized mesh of ideas thieved from Van Morrison and Crazy Horse.

Havilah meanders to a close with “Your Acting’s Like the End of the World,” a relatively jaunty affair that again makes the Drones influences far too transparent. Liddiard’s words are too often uninspired, and seemingly torn from a notebook full of juvenilia that should have been stuffed in the back of a firmly locked closet. On “Oh My” he even wraps his whiny vocals around the line “people are a waste of food,” and that kind of sub-par teen angst really rankles as Havilah unfolds at a tortuously slow pace.  







  • Nail It Down
  • The Minotaur3. The Drifting Housewife
  • I Am The Supercargo
  • Careful As You Go
  • Oh My
  • Cold And Sober
  • Luck In Odd Numbers
  • Penumbra
Friendly Foes - Born Radical Josh Reichmann Oracle Band Life Is Legal EP

If you think The Drones never stray off the well-worn road of r'n'r, blues or whatever you think they're playing, then you haven't been paying attention. In my opinion, one of the most groundbreaking rock acts of the last 15 years without having to resort to gimmicks. And they wipe their asses with grunge's shroud.


this is a terrible and horribly short-sighted review. not to mention a lack of retrospective and comparative research...the drones are a group defining the depressive post-capitalist blues in a way rarely acknowledged by timid, meaningless fad groups with wads of kleenex for brains (or reviewers unable to see an honest thing when it's right in front of them, moaning the awful truth in their ears). familiarize yourself with the back-catalogue. this is not a group running with a group. terrible review.


I actually find Havilah to be a solid listen, but I find no fault in this review. Havilah falls short of past Drones discs like Gala Mill and Wait Long by the River..., but it is not completely dismissable to me, though I do wish, as does this reviewer, that Liddiard would tone it down a bit once in a while. It would make his whiskey-soaked howl more effective. Though the mention of Abe Vigoda and Women seems a bit tangential to me, I still think this reviewer was honest enough to call it as he sees it on this one. And though I might rate it a bit higher, I can't fault someone for having a different opinion.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/mfiander/profile.jpg mfiander

This guy should not be allowed to have opinions.


An amazing album! Hugely underrated by the above! But 'depressingly post-capitalist blues'? When did capitalism become post?


The Drones are too abrasive to be everyone's cup of tea, but personally I find their lack of 'polish' or 'prettiness' truthful and raw. That said, Havilah is, by their standards, a pretty mellow album. I'm not sure its highs are quite as high as the best tracks on Here Come the Lies or Wait Long, but it's their evenest record IMO.

Superb band -- and even better live than they are on disc. Get into The Drones: they're the best band you've never heard of.


what a tool

George Abben

Really ??? you are a fair douche lord. bad review man.


hhahaahahah, waaaaayyyyyy off the mark dude. comparing them to the smashing pumpkins reaaaaaallly???

jimmy c

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