Simulation Theory

Written by: PP on 22/09/2019 11:22:44

Despite their mass appeal as one of the biggest rock bands on the planet, Muse has never been afraid to tackle challenging topics through their lyrical, and most of all their audiovisual concert experience. "Simulation Theory", their 8th album, is no different in that regard. Like its title suggests, it sees Matthew Bellamy & co explore a philosophical angle, the classic man vs machine theme in a way that seems to have split Muse fans almost as much as the dubstep-influenced "The 2nd Law" did seven years ago.

Stylistically, "Simulation Theory" is nearly as much a radical departure from the signature Muse sound as the former album was, introducing us to a futuristic soundscape that delves far beyond the classic confines of rock music. Effects-pedals are in heavy use, electronics and other tricks surpass the use of guitar and bass on many songs, although without entirely abandoning their rock music background. From the gospel style of "Dig Down" through the thumping industrialism of "Break It To Me" to the electronics of "Pressure", the angle of attack remains within futurism, where almost post-apocalyptic instrumentals merge with the classic Bellamy show as we've come to expect on prior albums.

It's an interesting approach that results in a wide variety of songs, some of which are offered in multiple, alternate versions towards the end of the album, where it's still clear that Matthew Bellamy is one of the great singers of our generation. But what about the quality of the song? Well, in that regard it is a mixed bag. It's clear from the material offered that Muse is still at their very best when they focus on writing the arena-sized rock song with epic moments that allow Bellamy to elevate his expansive voice all across the spectrum, reaching the higher notes at ease while larger-than-life riffs mesmerize the listener.

Songs like "Algorithm", "The Dark Side" and "Thought Contagion" offer just that and are what Muse fans come looking for. But too much of the album is spent in experimental rock territory where a catchy song is sacrificed in favour of a more hyperrealistic depiction of the "Simulation Theory" philosophical musings about the man vs machine theme.

In the end as a rock fan and especially as a fan of Muse's older output, I'm inclined to suggest "Simulation Theory" is a decent album with several great tracks on it, but one that falls regrettably short in consistency from the usual Muse output. Most importantly, it is better than the dubstep record despite being similarly experimental, which is all that matters in the end.


Download: Algorithm, The Dark Side, Thought Contagion
For the fans of: Queen, 30 Seconds To Mars, The Smashing Pumpkins
Listen: Facebook

Release date 09.11.2018
Warner Bros

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