Album Review: Starset releases “Vessels”, end transmission

Grade: A+

The band featured in this review, Starset, is vastly different than any of the other artists that have been featured in The Maine Campus so far. Starset’s work rests heavily on a space theme, as well as a well-developed fictional backstory that helps to guide the listener through their music. The group originally began in Ohio and is lead by none other than an actual professor from the International Space University.

Starset’s mission, as described on their official web page, is as follows: “we have been commissioned by the Starset Society to spread broad awareness of The Message through music and media. The Message contains the knowledge necessary to spare the future of humanity, and we will do whatever we must to inform the public. Please hold. STARSET will begin the TRANSMISSION of the Message to the public shortly.” The band is so committed to their “cover story” that the group often performs and are photographed in simulation space suits.

Though they have deemed themselves a rock band, they are considered to fit into a variety of genres: electronic rock, hard rock, alternative metal, alternative rock and even space rock. Starset’s style has been compared to that of Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Skillet, 30 Seconds to Mars, Three Days Grace and Red. “Transmission” — their first offering — was originally released back in July of 2014. Now, their most recent release is titled “Vessels.” The album is public on Spotify as of Jan. 20 and is composed of 15 songs of various lengths. The full album lasts just over one hour and features a number of notable songs that easily capture the listener’s attention.

“Satellite” is a quick beat electro rock song that has a great balance of small, light tech sounds scattered throughout. The staccato beeps simulate the action of pressing buttons and help to give the track’s listener the feeling of occupying a spaceship. The lead singer, Dustin Bates, gives a powerful vocal performance that demonstrate just how deeply his Linkin Park influences run. The song also follows a very dark, slow intro known as “The Order.” This piece contains an overlay of people talking over legato notes, making it sound like an unsettling transmission being heard all over the Earth.

If you have ever wondered what a romance with the concept of space would sound like, then “Gravity of You” is what you have been looking for. Similar to “Last to Fall,” it features a number of repeated scratchy echos that overlay the lead vocalist to make him seem distant. “Last to Fall” starts off sounding like a pop song that would be featured on 107.3, then has occasional bouts of “screamo” mixed in.

“Everglow,” their longest song, starts off slowly, with few effects. Of all of the tracks on this album, this song definitely features the greatest number of metaphors. The way they sing about black holes and being frozen and all of the darkness can only allude to an astronaut floating off into space without a ship.

This group is incredibly creative in how they go about representing their alternative identities as a part of the Starset Society. They have a very intense set list and it was surprisingly delightful to listen to.

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