Muse push the boundaries of their sound – and Matt Bellamy’s chops – on heavyweight new single Kill or Be Killed

Matt Bellamy performing live
(Image credit: Sergione Infuso/Corbis via Getty Images)

Muse have dropped Kill or Be Killed, the fourth single lifted from their forthcoming studio album, Will of the People.

Just like Won’t Stand Down and the rousing title track, Kill or Be Killed sees Muse embrace a heavy sonic direction that teeters on the edge of all-out modern metal.

Unlike the album’s second single Compliance, which instead leaned heavily into electro-rock territory, Kill or Be Killed is a veritable electric guitar thrash-a-thon, swapping synth lines for unrelenting riffs and pulsating six-string action.

The vicious vocal delivery that frontman Matt Bellamy deployed in Won’t Stand Down are back in full force, accompanied by pounding chugs, machine-gun riffs and a high-octane solo preceded by some stomping six-string palm mutes at the 2:57 mark. 

A word on that solo: it’s one of Bellamy’s most technically dazzling solos ever put to record, and it sees him call upon a flurry of lightning-fast arpeggiated licks.

Amid the fretboard throwdowns, there’s still plenty of Muse flair in there, most notably the colorful chord choices of the verse and the catchy, operatic vocal hooks littered throughout.

Kill or Be Killed will be familiar to die-hard Muse fans, who no doubt would have heard the three-piece – which is completed by Dominic Howard on drums and Chris Wolstenholme on bass guitar – perform the song at one of their recent festival shows.

As such, Muse have dropped the track as Will of the People’s fourth single following an outpouring of calls for it to be officially released.

Kill or Be Killed is Muse at their heaviest,” said Bellamy. “We wanted to update our hard rock sound on this album and with Kill Or Be Killed we found a modern metal sound featuring double bass drum action and even a death growl. 

“Lyrically the song takes influence from my favourite Paul McCartney song Live and Let Die,” he added, “a dark take on how life’s adversity can sometimes bring out the worst human instincts to survival at any costs.”

Muse band picture

(Image credit: Nick Fancher)

To this end, the track hammers home the theme of the wider album, which is said to be an exploration of “the increasing uncertainty and instability in the world”.

Bellamy explained, “A pandemic, new wars in Europe, massive protests and riots, an attempted insurrection, Western democracy wavering, rising authoritarianism, wildfires and natural disasters and the destabilization of the global order all informed Will of the People.”

Will of the People is set to arrive via Warner Records on August 26, and will be Muse’s first album since 2018’s Simulation Theory.

When it arrives, the record will be promoted via a series of intimate shows across the US and Europe in October.

A full list of show dates can be found below.

  • October 4 – Los Angeles, The Wiltern
  • October 11 – Chicago, The Riviera Theatre
  • October 14 – Toronto, The History
  • October 16 – New York City, The Beacon Theatre
  • October 23 – Amsterdam, Royal Theatre Carré
  • October 25 – Paris, Salle Pleyel
  • October 27 – Milan, Alcatraz

For tickets, and to preorder Will of the People, head over to Muse.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.