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Album Review: Muse – Simulation Theory



​English rock powerhouses, Muse, are back with their eighth studio album ‘Simulation Theory’. As Muse co-produced the album, it is evident to see that their creative influences have remained prominent and delivers fans with the classic Muse sounds they know and love. Despite this, Muse manage to intertwine new influences into their classic styles, and create songs which are politically charged, informed and meaningful.

The opening track of the record is “Algorithm”. It is immediately clear to see that this album will be driven by electronic forces, synthesized instrumentals and the sounds of alternate genres. The extended introduction allows these ideas to be cemented and sets the tone for ‘Simulation Theory’. Classic Muse elements including powerful lyrics and ballad-like vocals accompanied by futuristic techno sounds create a triumphant track. “Algorithm” sets an outstanding bar for the rest and is an excellent opening track.

Following this is track two, “The Dark Side”. This track was the fourth single released off ‘Simulation Theory’ and it is clear to see why it was selected. From the beginning, “The Dark Side” picks up the pace and introduces heavier guitar elements. The futuristic vibes accompanied by chilling vocals creates an atmospheric song; a song which places you into the simulation which Muse have created. “The Dark Side” introduces fears into the simulated world, and as a single, demonstrates the power which Muse possess and convey to their audience.

Track three, “Pressure”, is the next track on ‘Simulation Theory’. “Pressure” was the fifth single released by Muse and showcases elements which are evident throughout older Muse songs. The unmistakeable electronic guitar riffs are paired with a lighter, and more energetic tone of Matt Bellamy’s vocals. “Pressure” is the first sign of positive underlying tones within the album, and shakes up its vibe, assuring it does not become repetitive. Personally, “Pressure” is a favourite from Muse’s ‘Simulation Theory’. This track perfectly displays the clever riffs and beats Muse can create and intertwine with catchy lyrics in order to make an unforgettable track.

“Propaganda” is the fourth song featured on the record. This track is strong and enticing from the beginning, and certainly recaptures any lost attention from the audience. This song showcases different elements not yet shown within the album, particularly electronic dance beats. The quiet and slowed down verses are contrasted perfectly by the ‘in-your-face’ beats of the choruses. Although being more of a ‘dance’ track, the lyrics remain relevant and meaningful to not only political stances, but everyday situations. This is a difficult talent to master, but Muse have proven they have mastered it through the track “Propaganda”.

The fifth track off ‘Simulation Theory’ is “Break It To Me”. This track features layered vocals, paired with heavy genre influenced instrumentals. The signature creepy vibes are certainly served on this track, and it is the first of the tracks to fully showcase this. Being transported into the Muse simulation is prominent in this track as it was in “The Dark Side”. Despite all the incredible elements, there is one standout element. Within the song, Matt Bellamy serves up a perfect vocal performance which certainly catches the audience. As the track ends with dance-influenced beats, it is evident to see that “Break It To Me” is a standout track. Not only this, but it is a personal favourite. “Break It To Me” effortlessly shows off the many musical talents and genre influences that went into the creation of the album.

Following this amazing song is track six, “Something Human”. This track slows down the pace but is a welcomed break. Although “Something Human” does not pack the same punch which the other tracks have, it provides an opportunity for Muse to display their lyrical content and meaningful words. “Let’s face all our fears, come out of the shade”. Muse’s lyrics are inclusive and empowering, and direct their fans on to a positive path. Not only does the stripped back “Something Human” give an opportunity for these lyrics to shine, but new musical features and vocals are put into the spotlight. “Something Human” demonstrates the diversity of Muse’s talents and provides a fresh outlook on the album ‘Simulation Theory”.

Track seven revisits the second single, “Thought Contagion”. From the initial beat, this song is suspenseful and mysterious. The tempo is between paces, adding to this unsettled feeling. The vocals and backing vocals accompany the moderately paced instruments, once again adding to this theme and creating a world and situation within the song. “Thought Contagion” is enticing and was evidently selected as a single due to this reason. It represents the album in a favourable way and accurately depicts the underlying themes of electronic influences and charged lyrical content.

Track eight, better known as “Get Up And Fight” follows. As displayed in previous tracks, this one once again slows down the pace. However, the chorus of this track manages to build up with the help of heavy drum instrumentals. The lighter instrumentals within the verses allow for lyrical content to shine through.  The empowerment provided by Muse is once again seen in “Get Up And Fight”. Through this song, it is clear to see the care Muse holds towards their fans, and is a reoccurring theme within ‘Simulation Theory’.

“Blockades” is track nine on ‘Simulation Theory’. From the initiation of the track to the conclusion, “Blockades” serves some serious retro vibes. The added synthesized sounds and electronic influences provide an 80’s sounding track, which is yet another underlying theme within the album. The heavy choruses ensure the excitement remains during the whole song and uncovers an abundance  of new elements. The end of this track also showcases a signature Muse guitar feature. “Blockades” is a personal favourite and a clear standout from ‘Simulation Theory’.

Track ten revisits the first single, “Dig Down”. This toned down and deep track presents yet another perspective into the simulation Muse has created. The simple beat accompanied by meaningful lyrical content shows that Muse does not need all the electronic influences to be a powerful force within music, but can stand their ground with their natural talent. “Dig Down” effortlessly displays these ideas and showcases the power of Matt Bellamy’s vocals. It represents Muse as talented and ambitious, making the track a perfect first single for ‘Simulation Theory’.

The final track is track eleven, “The Void”. In this final track, Muse have packed a punch. Eerie, creepy vibes are combined with prominent beats and subtle synthesizers in order to create a memorable song. “The Void” is thought-provoking and allows the audience to not only reflect on the album they just listened to, but to reflect on the content within the eleven tracks. “It takes a leap of faith to awake from the delusions”. The conclusion of this song reminds the audience to leave the simulation, and go out into the world with the confidence and courage this album has provided them with. “The Void” is a theatrical and suspenseful concluding track, and cements the themes of ‘Simulation Theory’ within the responder.

As some of the audience’s album ends with “The Void”, other Muse fans are provided with an extra five tracks which can be found on the ‘Simulation Theory: Super Deluxe Version’. This edition offers fans alternate versions, acoustic versions and gospel versions of tracks such as “Algorithm”, “The Dark Side”, “Propaganda”, “Something Human”, and “Dig Down”. Considering most of these tracks were singles, this was a smart move by Muse to ensure the fans do not easily tire of these songs. The alternate versions also play to the concept of being in a simulation and creating a new wave of sounds. The alternate, acoustic and gospel versions provided on the super deluxe edition of ‘Simulation Theory’ are necessary, powerful and fresh!

Through their eighth studio album ‘Simulation Theory’, Muse have certified their position in the alternative scene. Their signature electronic influences and eerie elements never fail to amaze, and become increasingly prominent within each album. Muse effortlessly showcase their natural talent, and proceed to heighten this with multiple genre influences. Although they have been in the scene for quite some time, ‘Simulation Theory’ proves that Muse will always remain relevant in the scene. This Muse album is a must listen!

Written by Georgia Haskins

Have you listened to ‘Simulation Theory’ by Muse yet? If not, listen here:

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Glenn van den Bosch