Simulation Theory (album)

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Cover Art by Kyle Lambert
Alternative Cover Art by Paul Shipper
Muse album
Name Simulation Theory
  • 11 »
  • 16 (Deluxe Edition)
  • 21 (Super Deluxe)
Total length
  • 42:12 (Standard Edition) »
  • 58:59 (Deluxe Edition)
  • 78:56 (Super Deluxe Edition)
Recorded 2017–2018
Writer/composer Matthew Bellamy, Dominic Howard, Christopher Wolstenholme
Producer Muse, Rich Costey, Mike Elizondo, Shellback and Timbaland
Art work Kyle Lambert, Paul Shipper
Publisher Helium 3, Warner, A&E Records, Globalist Industries
  • CD, CD (Deluxe), 2LP, download, cassette »
  • 2CD+2LP ( Exclusive Deluxe Edition)
Catalogue №
  • 190295578855 (CD) »
  • 190295578848 (CD, Deluxe)
  • 190295559267 (Digital)
  • 190295578831 (2LP)
  • 190295578824 (2CD+2LP)
  • 190295559366 (Cassette)
Release date 9th November 2018
Chart position
  • 1 (GB, CH, NL, BE) »
  • 2 (IT, PT)
  • 3 (AT, CA, EE, FI, FR)
  • 4 (DE, HU, NZ, ES)
  • 5 (IE)
  • 7 (AU)
  • 9 (CZ)
  • 10 (MX)
  • 12 (US)
  • 13 (PL)
  • 15 (JP)
  • 16 (DK)
  • 17 (NO, SE)
  • 20 (LV)
album chronology
Simulation Theory
Muse-Dig-Down-2017.jpgThoughtcontagionartowk.jpgSomething Human cover art.jpgTDarksideArt.jpgPressureCover.jpg


Muse's eighth studio album, nicknamed by Dom the 'I Don't Wanna Ruin It For Everyone' album, is the proper follow up to Drones, will be released in November 2018.[1]

The album deals with the themes of virtual reality, simulated reality and about 'the idea of fantasy becoming real', as mentioned by Matt in an interview, he also mentioned that another reason of writing this album was because 'simulations are becoming something that’s part of our everyday life.'. [2]


Matt began to be interested in the idea of a 'simulated world' from two sources, the 'Burning Man Festival' in the Nevada Desert and he playing videogames with a VR Set “What I found in both those things is that people are generally a bit nicer to each other,” he says. “People are very pleasant [if] you take way the grind of the news, and in the case of Burning Man, take away law enforcement and stuff like that. It’s amazing how pleasant people are to each other in a fantasy world, or a world that’s not like this one. That’s another reason that I became interested in this idea of simulation, and this idea that possibly reality – the reality we’re living – maybe isn’t…” he pauses, then continues with a nervy laugh. “We might start creating alternate ones that are more fun!”[3]

The first time when Muse began to speak about the eighth album was in September 2015. According to Dom, they were discussing the direction for the new album and that this album must be really different from the other releases. Dom also said: «I think it's time to kind of lose our minds a little bit more in the studio and delve into some new areas of music that we're kind of not that used to or comfortable with. I think we should definitely do that and kinda go for it. Yeah, we've got small ideas about how we think we can evolve. That's the key thing: evolving.»[4]

In one of the interviews in 2016 Howard said that Drones might've been their last album as it is. As he said «The world is a very different place. And the way people consume music is very different than it used to be. So we've been talking about just releasing small groups of tracks, or just singles, for quite a number of years now.»[5]. In another 2016 interview for Virgin Radio France, Bellamy mentioned that they might start recording and working on new material by the end of 2016. He also mentioned that they might use more electronic elements or orchestral elements and take the experimental approach again for new material, as opposed to their recent album's more basic approach (using guitar, bass and drums).

At the 2016 Q awards, Bellamy said that they might release a song or two in 2017 but it's unlikely that a new album would come out that year, more likely in 2018.

On August 30th, 2018, an album pre-order was announced, along with an official release date of November 9th 2018. It also includes downloads of already released singles from the album, plus the song "The Dark Side" and early access to tickets for the upcoming tour.

Cover art

The cover art for Simulation Theory was created by artist Kyle Lambert - best known for creating the illustrated posters for Stranger Things seasons 1 and 2, among other various film and TV projects. This is the first time that the band members have been featured on an official studio album art cover. An alternate cover art image by Paul Shipper was also released on the same day and features in the Super Deluxe version of the album. Shipper has created various art covers and movie posters, with an instantly recognisable art style - from Star Wars to a variety of Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

Dominic Howard explains how that album sleeve became a reality; "It was my idea to create something that looked like a film poster. I've wanted to do that for a few albums -some kind of slightly vintage movie poster. That hasn't worked out, but this time, once we started working on videos with Lance Drake, we realised it would be cool.

We wanted to do it properly: we had to find the right person, it had to be illustrated by hand, it had to actually look like a movie poster. We looked at a few different people, but I knew that Kyle Lambert, who did Stranger Things, would be the one. I'd seen a load of his work aside from Stranger Things and I knew he could nail it. Colour-wise and stylistically, we gave him a little direction, and he knew exactly what to do. And now I'm glad that the idea finally came to light. Plus, at night time, on an LED billboard, it'll look awesome!".


During 2017, both Bellamy and Howard posted several posts of themselves working in the studio as well as Dom liking some Instagram comments posted by fans, pointing out to new material, suggesting that they are probably working on new material. After a fan met both the band and Tommaso Colliva outside Air Studios, he cited them saying that they have recorded 3 new songs, one of which is presumably going to be a heavier song.[6](In 2019, it was revealed by Matt that the heavier song they were working on was Blockades[7] )

On May 18th, 2017, Muse released a new song called "Dig Down", that they confirmed would be on the next album. It is probably not one of the original three songs recorded in March, as Dig Down was written in early April 2017.

On October 11th, 2017, the band announced that they were back in the studio in Los Angeles with Rich Costey, who previously helped Muse produce Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations. The band also teased instagram followers with a few photos during recording sessions.

During an interview with KROQ on December 9th, 2017, Bellamy revealed that they're mixing a new song called "Thought Contagion". The release date and artwork were subsequently revealed in ealry February of 2018 on Muse's Instagram before the song was released on February 15th, 2018.

When interviewed on KROQ's The Kevin & Bean show on February 15th, 2018, Matt said they are currently working on 10 songs for the album, and they have got "four or seven songs in the bag", but they might record a few more spare songs in the future. He mentioned they had plans to release three or maybe even four additional singles in this year before releasing a full album later this year/earlier next year. Additionally, he also said the new album was inspired by the British sci-fi series Black Mirror.

According to Howard, speaking to Matt Wilkinson on Beats 1 Radio, aired on February 16th, 2018, the album would be very different from the previous album having "a lot more weird synths and stuff". On the same day Bellamy, during an interview on The Woody Show on ALT 98.7 radio, also mentioned a possibility of the album being released in the fall of 2018.

When speaking with a French Radio RTL2 on February 26th, Bellamy mentioned that they're going to try to produce one song with Timbaland in the first two weeks of March. The song turned out to be Propaganda. He also mentioned, in the same interview, that Thought Contagion would likely be the most traditional style and that the next song they plan to release (which was Something Human) will probably be a surprise in a very different style. In the same interview, he added that the main ideas and themes of the songs in the album would revolve around simulated reality and the idea that people in the future will be able to live in any point in the past with the help of VR.


During an interview at the 2018 Rock in Rio festival in Lisbon, in June of 2018, Bellamy mentioned the July release of the new single titled Something Human. He also said that they are in the middle of finishing the album and that it'll be released in November, with another possible single release in Autumn, before the album itself drops.[8]

When interviewed on Kroq's The Kevin & Bean Show right after the Something Human premiere on July 19th, Bellamy mentioned that they're currently finishing mixing and they have 11 tracks in the bag, apart from one song, for which they'll do more recording in the upcoming two weeks. He also said that they're going to include 7-8 bonus tracks, all of which are going to be acoustic/alternate versions of the songs on the main tracklist (Dig Down featuring a gospel choir). In the same interview, a November album release was also mentioned.[9]

On August 30th, The Dark Side was released (not as a single). With it also came information about the track list, the album name and the album cover. Roughly 3 weeks later, on September 24th, Pressure was also released, but again not as a single.

During the taping of Taratata in September, a 30 second clip of Propaganda was played to the studio audience.

The album was leaked on the Internet on November 7th, 2018

Album Name

The Badge

The first hints of the album title appeared on the Thought Contagion video, with a cassette dubbed 'Emotionality Rush' which was an anagram for the album.

At the premiere of the Drones World Tour film, some cinemas gave away some badges with some letters scattered around the Muse logo on which fans decoded as 'Simulation Theory'

Simulation hypothesis (the theory of simulation) proposes, that everything that exists in real world (including the Universe), is an artificial computer simulation and relies o development of simulated reality. This theory has been a main plot device for many sci-fi books, movies and tv shows.

Simulation Theory World Tour & Simulation Theory Film

Simulation Theory World Tour was the arena & stadium tour, which began on February 22nd 2019 at Toyota Center in Houston, TX in support of the album ran throughout the first two thirds of that year, ending in autumn. More on the tour on this page.

The two shows at The O2 Arena in London were filmed for a live film, simply named, Simulation Theory Film, released in August of 2020 with audio also being released in December of 2020 on physical media in a box set. The film is shot like a movie and has it's own narrative.

Track list

Standard CD/Digital

  1. Algorithm – 4:05
  2. The Dark Side – 3:47
  3. Pressure – 3:55
  4. Propaganda – 3:00
  5. Break It to Me – 3:37
  6. Something Human – 3:46
  7. Thought Contagion – 3:26
  8. Get Up and Fight – 4:04
  9. Blockades – 3:50
  10. Dig Down – 3:48
  11. The Void – 4:44

Deluxe Edition CD

  1. Algorithm - 4:05
  2. The Dark Side - 3:47
  3. Pressure - 3:55
  4. Propaganda - 3:00
  5. Break It to Me - 3:37
  6. Something Human - 3:46
  7. Thought Contagion - 3:26
  8. Get Up and Fight - 4:04
  9. Blockades - 3:50
  10. Dig Down - 3:48
  11. The Void - 4:44
  12. Algorithm (Alternate Reality Version) - 3:32
  13. The Dark Side (Alternate Reality Version) - 3:54
  14. Propaganda (Acoustic Version) - 2:58
  15. Something Human (Acoustic Version) - 3:46
  16. Dig Down (Acoustic Gospel Version) - 3:57

Super Deluxe Edition

CD 1

  1. Algorithm – 4:05
  2. The Dark Side – 3:47
  3. Pressure – 3:55
  4. Propaganda – 3:00
  5. Break It to Me – 3:37
  6. Something Human – 3:46
  7. Thought Contagion – 3:26
  8. Get Up and Fight – 4:04
  9. Blockades – 3:50
  10. Dig Down – 3:48
  11. The Void – 4:44

Vinyl 1

Side A (ALPHA)

  1. Algorithm – 4:05
  2. The Dark Side – 3:47
  3. Pressure – 3:55
  4. Propaganda – 3:00
  5. Break It to Me – 3:37
  6. Something Human – 3:46

Side B (BETA)

  1. Thought Contagion – 3:26
  2. Get Up and Fight – 4:04
  3. Blockades – 3:50
  4. Dig Down – 3:48
  5. The Void – 4:44

CD 2

Vinyl 2

Side C (GAMMA)

Side D (DELTA)

  1. Something Human (Acoustic) – 3:46 (This track is erroneously listed as track 6 at the GAMMA side on the Super Deluxe Edition vinyl)
  2. Thought Contagion (Live) – 4:08
  3. Dig Down (Acoustic Gospel Version) – 3:57
  4. The Void (Acoustic) – 4:34
  5. The Dark Side (Alternate Reality Instrumental) – 2:53


Side A (ALPHA)

  1. Algorithm – 4:05
  2. The Dark Side – 3:47
  3. Pressure – 3:55
  4. Propaganda – 3:00
  5. Break It to Me – 3:37
  6. Something Human – 3:46

Side B (BETA)

  1. Thought Contagion – 3:26
  2. Get Up and Fight – 4:04
  3. Blockades – 3:50
  4. Dig Down – 3:48
  5. The Void – 4:44

Simulation Theory Instrumentals Promo

Simulation Theory Japanese Promo



  • Matt Bellamy - Vocals, backing vocals, guitar, piano, keyboard, synth programming, production
  • Chris Wolstenholme - Bass, backing vocals, production
  • Dominic Howard - Drums, percussion, drum programming, backing vocals, production

Additional musicians

  • Mike Elizondo - Keyboards, Drum programming (track 10)
  • Tove Lo - Backing vocals (track 8)
  • Shellback - Keyboards (track 8)
  • Tim Mosley - Beat programming (track 4)
  • Sebastien Najand - Strings & Synth programming (track 12 on deluxe version)
  • Torrence Gospel Choir - Choir performance (track 16 on deluxe version)
  • UCLA Bruin Marching Band - Performance (track 3 on CD2 of super deluxe version)


  • David Campbell - Transcriptions, Conductor (tracks 1, 3 & 11)
  • Gordon Henderson - Marching band director, Brass & woodwind arrangement (track 3 on CD2 of super deluxe version)
  • Kelly Flickinger - Percussion arrangement (track 3 on CD2 of super deluxe version)
  • Tony Jones - Choir director (track 16 on deluxe version)
  • Rich Costey - Production (except tracks 8, 9 & 10), Mixing (tracks 1, 5 & 11 ; track 16 on deluxe version), Engineering (track 6 ; track 15 on deluxe version)
  • Tim Mosley - Co-Produciton (track 4)
  • Angel Lopez - Co-Production (track 4)
  • Federico Vindver - Co-Production (track 4)
  • Mike Elizondo - Production (tracks 9 & 10)
  • Shellback - Production (track 8)
  • Noah Goldstein - Additional production (track 6)
  • Sebastien Najano - Additional production (track 9), Engineering (track 12 on deluxe version), Mixing (track 12 on deluxe version)
  • Viranda Tantula - Additional production (track 9)
  • Tommaso Colliva - Engineering (tracks 4 & 6 ; track 13 on deluxe version), Mastering Coordination
  • Adrian Bushby - Engineering (tracks 9 & 10)
  • Adam Hawkins - Engineering (except track 5 ; tracks 12 & 15 on deluxe version), Mixing (track 7 ; tracks 12, 13 & 15 on deluxe version)
  • Aleks Von Korff - Engineering assistant (tracks 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 & 11)
  • Rob Bisel - Engineering assistant (tracks 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 & 11)
  • Tyler Beans - Engineering assistant (tracks 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 & 11)
  • Martin Cooke - Engineering assistant (tracks 4, 5, 6 & 7 ; track 16 on deluxe version)
  • Nick Fournier - Engineering assistant (tracks 4, 5 & 6)
  • Chaz Sexton - Engineering assistant (track 8)
  • Brent Arrowood - Engineering assistant (track 10)
  • Laurence Anslow - Engineering assistant (track 10)
  • Phillip Broussard Jr. - Engineering assistant (tracks 6 & 10)
  • Tom Bailey - Additional Engineering (track 6)
  • Mark 'Spike' Stent - Mixing (tracks 2, 4, 6 & 10 ; track 14 on deluxe version)
  • Michael Ibert - Mixing (track 8), Engineering (track 8)
  • Michael Freeman - Mixing assistant (tracks 4 & 6 ; track 14 on deluxe version)
  • Jeremy Berman - Technical assistant (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8 & 11)
  • Chris Whitemyer - Technical assistant (tracks 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 & 11)
  • Colin Wilard - Shangri La Assistance (tracks 1, 2, 3, 7 & 11)
  • Dylan Neustadter - Shangri La Assistance (tracks 1, 2, 3, 7 & 11)
  • Sam Grubbs - Shangri La Assistance (tracks 1, 2, 3, 7 & 11)
  • Randy Merrill - Mastering


  • Jesse Lee Stout - Art direction, Design (package)
  • Keith Cathcart - Artwork production coordinator
  • Kyle Lambert - Cover art
  • Paul Shipper - Booklet illustration & painting
  • Alex Tenta - Layout
  • Patrick McPheron - Additional photography

Eighth album recording gallery

Simulation Theory gallery


  1. Chris Moyles for Radio X. (2018). Chris Moyles meets Muse. Retrieved 2018-07-12 from Youtube.
  2. Bobby Olivier. (2018). Muse's Matt Bellamy Talks New Single 'Something Human' & 'Simulation' Themes on Upcoming Album. Retrieved 2018-07-23 from Billboard.
  3. Tom Connick. (2018). Muse - Together in electronic dreams. Retrieved 2018-07-23 from NME.
  4. Luke Morgan Britton. (2015-09-30). Muse will 'delve into new music and lose our minds a little bit more' on next album. Retrieved "2015-09-30" from
  5. George Varga. (2016-01-06). Muse may have made its last album, says drummer. Retrieved "2016-01-06" from
  6. Antonio Ludovico. (2017-14-03). Fan Instagram post. Retrieved "2017-14-03" from
  7. Muse. (2019-24-04). Muse on recording Blockades. Retrieved "2019-24-04" from
  8. Blitz. (2018-06-25). Muse-Matt Bellamy dos Muse: “Portugal foi provavelmente o primeiro país a acolher-nos”.. Retrieved "2018-06-25" from {{{dom}}}.
  9. KROQ. (2018-07-19). Muse on New Song 'Something Human': "It's Our Soft Side". Retrieved "2018-07-19" from Youtube.