ALBUM REVIEW: Muse – Simulation Theory

Release Date: November 9th 2018
Label: Warner Bros. Records


Taking a fragmented approach to recording process of their eighth album, ‘Simulation Theory’, British rockers Muse have managed to create a cohesive collection of songs that display numerous aspects of their varied career.

Granted the trio have never played it safe with their output, but with tracks such as ‘Get Up And Fight’ throwing curve balls in the way, it’s good to know that the band haven’t lost their knack of surprising their fan base.

Opting for the slow burning ‘Algorithm’ and ‘The Dark Side’ to open the album is a bold move, with both relying on subtle dynamic tweaks and frontman Matt Bellamy‘s vocals to carry interest. Harking back to the polarising tone of 2012’s ‘The 2nd Law’, the risk pays off with standout moments thanks to Chris Wolstenholme‘s signature bass playing dominating the latter half of ‘The Dark Side’.

Single and foot stomper ‘Pressure’ breaks the mid tempo leanings with a deceptively simple guitar riff, harmonised with Bellamy‘s vocals to worm its way into your head. With the addition of Dominic Howard‘s pounding drums and varying riffs, it’s destined to be a live staple.

‘Break It To Me’ veers into experimental territory, playing with staccato chords and percussive vocal patterns; the verse builds to a multi-layered vocal performance. Allowing drawn out phrases to converge with rhythmic vocals before soaring falsettos take over, the track is a testament to Bellamy‘s versatile voice.

Whilst the mid section of the album digs into more left field influences, such as ‘Something Human’‘s choppy folk rock stylings and ‘Thought Contagion’‘s heavy structure, it’s the aforementioned ‘Get Up And Fight’ that commits to moving away from the group’s established sound.

Firmly rooted in the current synthwave inspired pop that dominates the charts, the track feels out of place on the album; though Bellamy‘s vocals add cohesion to it, the crashing wall of sound that signals the chorus is a welcome addition.

With ‘Blockades’, ‘Dig Down’, and ‘The Void’ bringing the album to a close, Muse traverse a variety of subgenres ranging from gospel to dubstep. Even though each track has its moments, they don’t hit as hard as they should, resulting in a slightly sloppy climax.

‘Simulation Theory’ is a step up from the Muse‘s previous attempts of distancing themselves from the limitations of rock music. Based on this, it’s going to be interesting to see what they do next.