Ever since Freddie Mercury left us for a better place, guitarist-come- scientist Brian May has taken it upon himself to throw his weight around as the new demigod leader of Queen in all its myriad bastardized forms. And who can blame him — if the real Queen let you play the National Anthem on the top of her house (as he did in 2002), it would probably go to your head, too. On the band’s latest offering, recorded with Free’s Paul Rodgers on vocals, it’s not hard to imagine May storming confidently into its recording, still wearing his mortarboard from his Astrophysics Ph.D. graduation and proclaiming, “OK, this is it, we’re gonna make the space-rock monolith the world’s been waiting for. We’re gonna call it Cosmos Rocks — GEDDIT!?”

Sure, it kicks off with sci-fi fanfare; all pitch-bent vocals, whining guitars and asteroid-belt drumming while Rodgers wails like a Martian. But from here on, mercifully, this isn’t the sound of Rodgers stuffed into one of Freddie’s old cat-suits, but of Queen reworking their dynamic to create something new, which you have to give them some credit for, at the very least.

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