Have Muse actually suffered as a result of artistic grandeur?

Musician Matt Bellamy of Muse performs on stage at Pechanga Arena on March 05, 2019 in San Diego, California.

Muse are perhaps one of the biggest bands in the world but are they still one of the best?

English rock band Muse have maintained wide attention from the very start. The band's debut - 1999's Showbiz - announced the arrival of remarkable talent, of which their sophomore effort Origin of Symmetry indisputably confirmed. This 2001 album arguably remains their most impressive and beloved release to date; it may just be a masterpiece. Such cuts as “Plug In Baby“, “Micro Cuts“, “Space Dementia“ and “Bliss“ are real gems but make no mistake, the record remains such a complete and staggering work. 

Following this, they blew fans away with such efforts as Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations; the latter can be considered their most popular collection of work. Then, there is reason to believe that the band hit a pivotal point with their fifth album The Resistance in 2009. Their vision for future efforts arguably became much more coherent and ambitious. Their fanbase continued to grow and become more dedicated, as did the group's commitment to delivering bigger and better spectacle. 

Now, there's often divide with fans when considering which half of the band's career is more satisfying, as it can be divided as such. They've become something of a juggernaut in the landscape of modern music, and - although controversial - they may now be better known now for their stage shows than their actual output. The band are incredible live, but they haven't really released anything that can be described similarly in a while. 

Simulation Theory - the group's eighth studio album - released in 2018 and an accompanying tour is on the way. In an interview with the Miami New Times, frontman Matt Bellamy opened up about what to expect. “I didn’t think we could go this far, but we’ve finally gone too far,“ he says. “...At some point, you’ve got to find the limits of what you can do in a rock show. It feels like no one else is doing that in the world of guitar music.“ As the years have gone by, Muse have really showcased a focus on their live performance, and there will be people who, although not keen on the record, will go to the show. This seems a shame. 

Honestly, Simulation Theory isn't a bad record but it's not a great record. It's certainly more satisfying than Drones, The 2nd Law or The Resistance, but far away from their first four studio releases. Even when listening to it for the first time, it was clear that a truly astonishing series of concerts were set to accompany it. It sounds like Bellamy and co. are really striving to become the most electrifying live act on the planet.

The fact that Bellamy said in the interview that the band have “...finally gone too far“ may be a sign that, once this spectacle is over, the band should return back to basics and work to craft an album without the distraction of stage bravado and towering props. They may do just that, and in doing so, we could see them release their best album for some time. 

In other news, will the forthcoming Blink-182 album be another failed promise?