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Muse - Simulation Theory CD (album) cover




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2.79 | 56 ratings

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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.

Kempokid | 3/5 |


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