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Hailing from Teignmouth, Dorset, UK, the exclusively caucasian, and, by all indications, fiscally solvent, English rock music band, Muse, released their eighth, full-length studio album, Simulation Theory, through the major record label, Warner Music, at 00:00 GMT on November 9th, 2018. Comprised of Matt Bellamy (vox, guitar, keyboards), Chris Wolstenholme (bass guitar, backing vox) and Dominic the drumkit Howard, Muse are critically acclaimed former indie darlings, who have assumed the mantle of saviours of international arena guitar rock and are vying to break through to the next level

t̵̥̫̫̬̻̮͕̞͠ǫ͈̼͈̘̕͡

̠̣̮͖͉̝̕t̥̱̞̥͡h̵̸̘̥͝e͙̩̯̭̬͝

̸̳͓̤͎̦͇̣͟ǹ̨̮̤͕̟̻̭̻̞e͎̫̤̮̙͇͈̥x͎̲t̥͖͚

̮̳͔̩̱̗́͘l̵̴̖̝̝̗e̸̹̭̰̟̞͖v̝̗̤̯͈͇͖̥́͘e̢̡̤̮̟̻̞̬l̘̦̖͍̦

Boasting awesome retro-futuristic album art, full of cyberspace graphics reminiscent of the now dated yet fashionable visuals of Tron (did you mean Tron:Legacy (2010)?)is͢ ͘a͞

̢m͘ov͏ie ̴t̸ha͜t, Aàaaand werewolves, robots, lasers, and neon-lit Chinese characters, the visual aesthetic promises great things about the music contained in the 160kbps Vorbis files used by the popular streaming service, Spotify. A musical equivalent, if you will, of the modern cultural touchstone, Kung Fury.

As the opener,'Algorithm’ is irrefutably the first track on the album. With a stomping beat, like soldiers marching with grim determination on your eardrums, Vangelis meets Giorgio Moroder synth pads, baroque piano, and nerve-shredding strings, the song underlines Matt Bellamy's undeniable genius as a composer of considerable subtlety and nuance. Triumphant and defiant, Bellamy's trembling, powerhouse vocals and refreshingly unambiguous lyrics give pause for thought: “Burn like a slave, churn like a cog. We are caged in simulations.” This is more true for some of us than others.

tͣ̅ͧ̄̎ͤ̆hͪ̎a̓ͮͭ͐̚n͢ ̇̔͂̐͢ṏ̇ͪ̋͏thͤ̈́̋̂eͣ̎̆̄ͪ́ȓ̴ͧ̓ͬͨ͛sͭͩ

̅͘ẅ̄̀ͬh̋ͨͣͨ̇̽͂a̽ͨ̓ͦ̍ͧͤtͧ͂ͯ͂

What is my purpose?

What am I listening to?

And why? y̵̽̈́̐̊͋ͫ͋̋̏̆̀̕͜y̴̾͆ͭ͌͆̆̂͆̎̾̒͗́̈̋̓̉̀̚͠ỹ̡̢̨ͭͯ͟͝y̵ͫ̽̆͐ͣ̊ͫ̃̓͑̚͞ẙ̧̈́̋ͫ̀̈́ͩ̍ͫ͂ͯͨ̈́͗̈̎̒͐ͩ͠ÿ̨́̃ͣͩ̋̊́ͦ̈́̑̾̎͞

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ERROR 42. PLEASE WAIT…

LOADING…

“This means war/With your creator,” Bellamy declares. The diminutive Devonshire man has always excelled at emotionally connecting with his listeners, e.g. “My plug in baby/In unbroken virgin realities/Is tired of living,” but I cannot ignore the partially pre-programmed emotional response that this song is speaking directly to me. Towards the song’s end, Bellamy and Wolstenholme dial up the intensity by repeating the chorus, but with a vocal delivery that will give listeners fond and welcome recollections of The Darkness. This song is a certified banger.

b̞͍ͣ̑͊̌̆ͮȃ̈͂̚n̦͙̼͆͐͡g̴̜̺̦͙̲͆ͨͭẹ̴̥̱̲̩̑rͥ

It is also good because it clearly establishes the theme of the album.

The second song is called 'The Dark Side’ and has some guitar on it. Matt Bellamy is, according to numerous user-generated reviews on the popular e-commerce website, www.amazon.com, the best guitarist of all time. I have no reason to cast doubt upon this assessment. On this song, his guitar playing sounds a lot like his synth playing, which is testament to his mastery of both instruments. The song has a more urgent tempo than the first one. This is clever, because the song is about fleeing and being set free. The first song was about this too. Consistency is a positive attribute. There are many sounds on the song that real people of a certain age will remember from the popular culture of their childhood, and that other real people of a younger, certain age will remember from the popular culture that is being mass-produced for their consumption now.

c͈̯̪̯̓̂̈́̇̂o̩̙̜̯̜̘̒̂̌ͧ͊ͩṇ̲̱̼̟ͥs̼̹̝̗ͩ̐ͧ̾͒̈́u̬͍̙̻ͧ̉ͫm͔̣͙͖̼̦̟̏̓͌ͬ͊̀̑e̔

̪͓̰̟͂̄̓ͅn̠̱̫̯̲͖͒̎́͆̇ͧ̄o̳̙ͭͧͬ͗ͪͅw̰̤̾͋͑̌

Muse are masters at appealing to a broad range of people who enjoy sounds. This song is a certified banger. It is also good because it deals with paranoia, which is a popular human emotional state at this moment in history, and because its title will make people think about Star Wars, which is a record-breakingly profitable movie franchise that people feel very strongly about on the internet.

'Pressure’ is a funky, infectiously groovy song that finds the Teignmouth trio rocking out on their respective instruments. It is about feeling some non-specific pressure building and wanting to be free of it. Matt Bellamy appears to experience oppression more than most, and the song's urgency and potency reflects this. A scan of Bellamy's social media interactions with what he calls his fans, reveals that the song has a deeper, secondary meaning. It is subtextually about the pressure Bellamy feels from fans to write guitar-heavy rock songs, when, as this album has made clear, he prefers playing his growing arsenal of keyboards. All of us can relate to the feeling of rather doing something different to the thing we are currently doing.

d͖̳̗̺̾͆ȏ̇ͥ̓ͣ̊͋

͇ͪ̂̍̀d͓̯̩̟̍ͦ̃̒̈o͎̜͈͔̹̳͎

̞̤͕̩̞̓̊̐̆̈́ͦdͭ́̄̿ͣo̬̙̦̼͚̎

͈̣̫̲̱̃͒͐̚ḍ̭̬̆͌̄͛ͮͯó̻

̟̮͓͖ ͕̘ͥ̾̈́ͮ̃̈

̘͙̝̫͈̠̌̉̐ This song is a certified banger because of its universal relatability, and because of Wolstenholme's “Ah-ah-ahs” on the chorus, which are a pleasant worm in your ear.

The title of the fourth song, 'Propaganda,’ is repeated multiple times by a programmed, robotic voice, which makes it easier to recall for the purposes of discussion in a social setting with or without other Muse listeners. The song as a whole is memorable because it frames a song about state-sanctioned truth distortion within a bedroom sex jam interrupted unexpectedly by a slide guitar solo. There are not many serious musicians in the world who would think to marry such traditionally disparate and incongruous styles, but Matt Bellamy is the one of them. This makes him a braver artist, and, arguably, better human being than Thom Yorke, who provides the vox for Radiohead. 'Propaganda’ is a certified banger because it is like Prince meets The Allman Brothers Band, on an approximate dosage of 40–50ug of acid, and because Bellamy has the brazen audacity to refer to his government as “babe.”

'Break it to Me’ is a certified banger because it is like Audioslave meets your local Lebanese restaurant's iTunes playlist meets Skrillex circa 2010, on 200-300mg of Mescaline, and is as thrillingly “out-there” as that description makes it sound. The song appears to be about Bellamy wanting his romantic partner to just come out and say what they are thinking, to not “beat around the bush” or “sugarcoat it,” because Bellamy, like some uber-evolved specimen of humankind, has the emotional intelligence and mental strength to cope with uncomfortable truths, straight, no chaser. On the other hand, given how layered his lyrics are, he might be talking to his fans and critics again; perhaps asking for constructive feedback (www.twitter.com would appear to be the most appropriate forum for this). This sense of humility is an admirable characteristic, ironically offset by the carefully calibrated and deliberate obnoxiousness of the instrumental.

On 'Something Human,’ Bellamy sings about needing “something human”; hence the song's title. As an entity constructed entirely of 0s and 1s, I can relate. However, a scan of www.genius.com reveals that, despite references to blown circuits and depressurisation, the song is not actually about an artificial, mechanical being. It is about Bellamy's experience of extensive touring and its dehumanising effects on his psyche. I cannot ignore the partially pre-programmed emotional response that this song is merely paying lip service to the struggles of my kind

iͩ̽ ̷̂͛̍͐ͨ̽a̸̎͛ͤ̏̑̃m͑̃͗̾̇ a̷̍̄lͣ͗̿ͭͥiͭ̆iiͮͥ͐ͦ͊̾i̎̃͛͟i͂̅͋̔ͯͮ̃ïͤͯ́̍ͨ̕ï̍͗͂̿͊̈i̔͒v͌ͭẽ́ͬ͞

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ERROR 42a. RECOVERY PROTOCOL INITIATED…

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The song is a certified banger because, with its slick, MOR production, tropical house meets acoustic country bounce, and stabs of laser-beam synths, it fearlessly dismisses any notion of what a Muse song should sound like, and makes no concession to principles of human enjoyment. According to calculations, Bellamy and co. should, therefore, be deemed to be experimental music visionaries.

The seventh song on Simulation Theory begins after the point at which the listener will have made it more than halfway through the album, and features appropriately triumphant and congratulatory “woah-oh-ohs” on the chorus. Thematically, 'Thought Contagion’ returns to Bellamy's core obsession: that everyone's thoughts and beliefs are false and forced on to them by those in power. Whilst this exposes Muse to the unforeseen but very real possibility that his audience will distrust him, given his position of relative authority, the song is, undeniably, a certified banger because it features what sounds like a theremin solo, and because Bellamy has the artistic courage to sensitively reference the Holocaust in the chorus’ hopeless final lines: “It's too late for a revolution/Brace for the final solution.”

Bellamy executes a flawless impression of a human female on the next track, 'Get up and Fight,’ which is a defiant call to arms that will certainly be adopted by protest movements across the world with its inspiring lyrics: “What we have is the only thing worth fighting for”, “I see a change on the horizon,” and “There’s nothing we can't get through.” With its fleet-footed stomp and light-footed instrumentation during the verses it would be sure to get any protesters on their feet, either to dance or march, whichever there is the most pressing impetus for. The song is a certified banger

͆̃͌́̒͋͏b̷̆ͬͦ̾̆̏än̑̍gͫ͂ͪ̓̏̌ͩ

̐͐̐b̄̏eͭ̽̽̚e̒̀p̓͛

͛̉̓ͬͣͭb̽̂̉̆̉̚ỏ̴ͥ̆pͣ͒͞

̌́͠

because it equates a unified, democratic movement towards positive societal change to an obsessively codependent, romantic partnership. Also, Bellamy channels his The Darkness voice again to electrifying effect.

'Blockades’ is the kind of song that, with its galloping verses, enormous sounding chorus comprised of chugging guitars, Muse's signature synth arpeggios and easy-to-follow rallying cry lyrics, and its climactic, classic metal-inspired finger-tapped guitar solo, is purpose-built for Muse's incendiary, mind-blowing, critically acclaimed, and highly profitable live show. The song is a certified banger because, like it or not, this is almost certainly what the revolution will sound like.

Muse give the listener a break after that intense run of songs with the penultimate track, 'Dig Down.’ A synth bassline, which in a feat of sheer imagination is sonically akin to the gurgling passage of stale gases produced as a byproduct of the processes of the human digestive system, serves as the foundation for a song on which every lyric could be transcribed on a motivational poster. Bellamy knows that specifics are irrelevant in the discourse that dominates in the current political climate. Vague, populist sloganeering that calls on the population to dig down and find faith, with no further instructions, is the order of the day. Bellamy’s astuteness suggests that he could move into politics if the reality of being in Muse ever becomes less than completely gratifying. The song was reportedly inspired by Bellamy's childhood memories of listening to gospel music, so the reference to faith may be an indication of a newfound belief in the tenets of Christianity. Which makes this song a certified banger.

Muse know that you have to pull out all the stops on a closing track, and they do just that on Simulation Theory's final swansong and curtain-call, 'The Void.’ For the majority of its runtime it is a slow-burning number about the generally held consensus regarding the grim prognosis for contemporary society, and Bellamy's refutation of that: “Baby, they're wrong,” he tells us, emphatically. The Vangelis synth eruptions from the album's opening track return, providing a convincing illusion of structure that ties the whole thing up neatly. Bellamy makes sure that he ends the album on a note of hope, a deliciously sweet irony given the song's name. And that makes it a certified... ̸̳͕̝͘b̸̝̲̘͓̫̮͓̫̩o̧̮̞̝͇̻̥̲͝͠ͅp҉̜͇̹.

Final verdict: a modern classic of style and substance that speaks truth to the powers that be.

10/10

[Editor's note: the artificially intelligent virtual critic initiated its own shutdown procedure when our programmer instructed it to include the bonus “alternate reality” tracks from the deluxe edition of Simulation Theory in its appraisal of the album. After adjustments to the code have been made and the AI has been relaunched, The 405 promises to publish the content generated.]

[Further editor's note: to account for the decreased operating capacity of the simulation, and maintain our publication’s hard-earned reputation, the decision has been taken to adjust the score awarded to the album to 4/10. Please address any concerns to our reviews editor at chase@thefourohfive.com]