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Muse Simulation Theory album cover
2.66 | 83 ratings | 6 reviews | 4% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2018

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Algorithm (4:06)
2. The Dark Side (3:47)
3. Pressure (3:56)
4. Propaganda (3:01)
5. Break It to Me (3:38)
6. Something Human (3:47)
7. Thought Contagion (3:26)
8. Get Up and Fight (4:05)
9. Blockades (3:51)
10. Dig Down (3:48)
11. The Void (4:45)

Total Time 42:10

Bonus disc from 2018 SE:
1. Algorithm (alternate reality version) (3:32)
2. The Dark Side (alternate reality version) (3:54)
3. Pressure (feat. The UCLA Bruin Marching Band) (4:04)
4. Propaganda (acoustic) (2:59)
5. Break It to Me (Sam de Jong remix) (3:08)
6. Something Human (acoustic) (3:46)
7. Thought Contagion (live) (4:08)
8. Dig Down (acoustic gospel version) (3:57)
9. The Void (acoustic) (4:34)
10. The Dark Side (alternate reality instrumental) (2:53)

Total Time 36:55

Line-up / Musicians

- Matthew Bellamy / guitars, lead vocals, keyboards, brass (3) & string (1,11) arrangements, composer
- Christopher Wolstenholme / bass, backing vocals
- Dominic Howard / drums, backing vocals (3)

- David Campbell / brass (3) & string (1,11) conductor
- Tove Lo / vocals (8)
- Karl Johan Schuster / keyboards & programming (8)
- Mike Elizondo / keyboards & drum programming (10)
- UCLA Bruin Marching Band (bonus 3)

Releases information

Artwork: Kyle Lambert and Paul Shipper (booklet)

CD Warner Bros. Records ‎- 0190295578855 (2018, Europe)

LP Warner Bros. Records ‎- 0190295578831 (2018, Europe)
2LP + 2CD Warner Bros. Records ‎- 0190295578824 (2018, Europe) Full album plus 10 bonus tracks on both media

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MUSE Simulation Theory ratings distribution

(83 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(4%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(17%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (28%)
Poor. Only for completionists (16%)

MUSE Simulation Theory reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Kempokid
3 stars Wow, Muse did something that I was starting to believe would never happen again, they made an album that I love, even more surprising is how it was from an album with such a terrible cover. I personally have found their albums from The Resistance up to Drones to be quite flawed in certain respects, trying to experiment, but being unable to produce consistently great material, leading to some extremely overblown ideas or just some failed experiments. This is where Simulation Theory manages to differ itself significantly, keeping to a very particular sound for the majority of the album, without getting too ambitious in the process. A clear sign of this is the fact that this is the shortest Muse album by a reasonable amount, being approximately 40 minutes long compared to the usual 50 or so. This allows the album to be a much more concise, consistent experience that isn't bogged down by filler. As for the sound itself, I personally enjoy it thoroughly, finally using their electronics again in a way that sounds like more than an experiment, sounding like part of the identity of the album, which heavily leans on 80s aesthetic. While it isn't the most incredibly ambitious album made by them, I find that what they've done is still sufficiently interesting, and marks the first muse album in ages which I'd love to listen to it again and again.

Algorithm starts off the album in an excellent way, immediately throwing the listener into the "futuristic" techno sound the band employs, along with a decent bit of symphonic rock with a few piano lines here and there. I love the slow, simple beat that is gradually built upon for the first 2 minutes before the vocals come in, only to continue building in such a gratifying way. The Dark Side is an even better song, with such a rich sound with layers upon layers of synth perfectly intertwining melody, harkening back to Origin of Symmetry, albeit with a poppier, cleaner style. Combine this with a powerful hook and you've got a real winner. From here, Pressure manages to further heighten the album, being one of my favourite tracks here, built around switching between 2 equally great riffs and a chorus that manages to be surprisingly fun, despite the cheesiness of the backing vocals. The next track is a bit of a sticking point, as while the main verses are quite good, with particularly noteworthy vocals, being some of the most crystal clear I've heard from Matt Bellamy, the chorus is so irrevocably awful that I find it really hard to enjoy the song in any way other than chuckling to myself about how dumb it sounds. Fortunately, the album gets back on track after this with a song that I like calling 'Fun With Microtones' (At least I'm pretty sure that's part of this). I really find the funky, distinctly Middle Eastern style to be really interesting, and for the distortion and slight dubstep elements to all work exquisitely together.

I find it interesting how varied and not at all indicative of the general sound of the album that quite a few of the singles were, with Something Human being a much lighter tune, and one that I find to be really beautiful, being able to put a smile on my face with little effort. Dig Down is another example of an out of place seeming single, being heavily in line with the dubstep sound of The 2nd Law, being quite empty sounding. This one took a while to grow on me, and I still like it less than the majority of the songs here, but I like it nonetheless. On the other side of the spectrum, Thought Contagion is the closest to classic Muse that this album gets, with a much bigger rock focus, complete with an extremely anthemic tone to it all and the obligatory wonderful bassline. Despite this song being repetitive, it's still one of my favourites here, as I just adore every aspect of it. As for the three remaining songs here, Get Up and Fight, while the story of Matt's uncle definitely gives the song some deeper meaning, I still find it to be the weakest moment here, with the female backing vocals sounding generic, and for everything to be too predictable without sufficient enjoyability to justify it. Blockades is a great song that brings back the almost apocalyptic sound of earlier albums, complete with some amazing emotion bleeding through each note sung. The album is closed off by The Void, another one of the strongest songs on the album, with comparisons to the Exogenesis Symphony being quite apt, as this has the much more subtle, grandiose instrumentation that mad that suite so great, in this case the layers of orchestral strings being replaced by synthesisers, still maintaining the absolute emotional power and beauty that makes so many of their greatest songs what they are. I think that this is the absolute perfect closer to a great album.

While not as wildly experimental as The 2nd Law, as grandiose as The Resistance, or as rock oriented as Drones, I feel like this album beats all of these easily by being able to be a listening experience that maintains a distinct identity, which is something that The 2nd Law failed at, while containing minimal filler, with no songs that I'd consider anything close to the low point on Drones of The Resistance. While there isn't the same level of ambition here, I feel like how consistent and cohesive the album is more than makes up for that, not to mention that by being shorter, there is much less fat to trim, which is something that every Muse album other than Origin of Symmetry had at least some issue with. After this album, I am back to feeling excited to see where Muse will go next.

Best songs: The Dark Side, Pressure, Thought Contagion, The Void

Weakest songs: Propaganda, Get Up and Fight

Verdict: I do believe that when getting into Muse, that their peak albums are generally where you'd want to start, but if you enjoy the more pop oriented moments on them and are fine with both some techno and cheesiness at points, then I recommend you check this album out, as I found it pleasantly surprising.

Review by Menswear
4 stars Stranger Things and Odder Stuff.

I can get many boos for this but here goes: we need more bands like Muse.

We cannot blame them for trying to renew themselves, they are shrewdly mixing SynthWave/Retro with their volcanic rock approach. I absolutely adore the RetroWave movement, for it's full embrace of the 80's is both refreshing and me. It's not for the anti-nostalgia people. But kudos to them for surprising me with beatbox vocals (Propaganda), Tim Burtonesque keys (Break it to Me, Thought Contagion) and more.

We need more bands like Muse that throw modern textures to their sounds while being intelligently crafted. There is not much more to say about this: lots of grandeur, lots of colorful synths and typical futuristics Muse shennanigans. Not a perfect album, some songs could use more inspiration (Something Human sounding like Every Breath you Take) or just uninspired like Get Up and Fight....but nothing to spoil the party.

Ro˙ksopp + Queen x (Blade Runner + Stranger Things) = fresh, unique and a mostly modern addition to your collection

Review by The Rain Man
2 stars "Simulation Theory" is English rock 3 piece Muse's 8th studio album. They started life as a band in the late 90s and I got sucked in by their rifftastic tunes very early on when their debut album "Showbiz" came out. While the first 4 albums I absolutely loved, particularly "Origin of Symmetry", I did go off them for a bit during albums 5 and 6. But when 7th album "Drones" came out I was sucked back in again and thought the album represented a triumphant return to form.

It seems like the build up to this album has been happening for quite a while, with the likes of "Thought contagion" and "Dig Down" have been on playlists maybe for as long as a year. But to be honest they weren't on my playlists along with more recent single "Pressure". I just didn't think they were very good and in Muse terms they feel very basic and safe. And I think this is, generally speaking, the story of the album. But I have to admit on the whole when listening to these songs and other songs on the album, I do like these songs more now than I did when listening to them individually. They fit in with the album and while they don't particularly challenge the listener they do have a lot of fun songs to listen to on here.

I do think that there is a stand out track on here and it happens straight from the word go in the form of "Algorithm". This to me is Muse at their best. The long introduction before the vocals kick in and the whole feel of the song really does set the bar high for the rest of the album. As I said while I have started to enjoy the album and the singles within in it more after multiple listens. But this track for me really does stand out.

On the contrary their are two tracks on here that let the album down badly and I would say they are two of the worst Muse tracks I have ever heard. These are "Propaganda" and "Break it to me". These songs feel like the band are trying to add more complexity and creativity to their songs but for me here it backfires and ends up very messy, to the point where I am going - what were they thinking.

Overall I would say there are nine good tracks on here. For other bands maybe I would say they were great but what I have heard Muse create in the past, I know they are better than this. So I would give this album three out of five based on the nine tracks. But those two other tracks I was talking about really bring it down a notch so I can only give this two out of five. But on the whole I see myself listening to this for a while as on the whole it is still an enjoyable listen.

Latest members reviews

3 stars 24th April, 2021: Muse - Simulation Theory (electronic pop rock, 2018) I definitely want to like this, and at moments Muse prove that the concept isn't really what's wrong here, but there are far too many dud tracks here for a wholly enjoyable album. The whole synthwave thing is a bit contrived ... (read more)

Report this review (#2691520) | Posted by Gallifrey | Saturday, February 12, 2022 | Review Permanlink

1 stars What a disappointment! This album is certainly the most bizarre in Muse discography. I find very difficult to find a song that deserves interest. I find the techno beat in all songs unstandable. After Drones, which was a correct album according to Muse standards, Simulation Theory is very differ ... (read more)

Report this review (#2167200) | Posted by ToNy06 | Tuesday, March 19, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I am a Muse fan, and I bought the album when it came out. In general words, this is not a bad album for actual standards. People who is not demanding with this band will enjoy it, but I am not that kind of guy. The first 2 songs are pretty good, but after The Dark Side, the thing starts to go ... (read more)

Report this review (#2120651) | Posted by BurizuTheFox | Wednesday, January 23, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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