Genre: Cinematic Rock
Label: Razor & Tie
Release: Out Now
1. First Light
2. Down With The Fallen
6. It Has Begun
7. My Demons
9. Dark On Me
10. Let It Die
11. The Future Is Now
12. Point Of No Return
13. Rise And Fall
Dustin Bates (Vocals)
Ron DeChant (Bass)
Brock Richards (Guitars)
Adam Gilbert (Drums)
Occasionally something new, original and yet familiar comes across the desk for consideration. On this occasion, Columbus based Starset have not only delivered a thought provoking début but also spent time and energy in creating an explanation about their origins and wrapped a fascinating yet mysterious back story around it. From their Facebook page, it reads:
“In the early hours of New Years Day 2013, a radio astronomer at the Allen Telescope Array in northern California discovered a mysterious signal emanating from a star within the Ophiuchus Constellation.
Contained within the signal was a Message–of human origin–foretelling the details of man’s imminent demise. The Message was brought to The Starset Society, who quickly realized the importance of its immediate publication.
Risking extreme danger, The Starset Society commissioned a group of musicians and scientists to assist them in spreading the knowledge to a broader audience. This group became known simply as STARSET.
Please hold. STARSET will begin the TRANSMISSION of the Message to the public shortly.
ignorance : slavery :: knowledge : power
Utilising the internet in the same effective way that ‘The Blair Witch Project’ did so many years ago, the “is it real, is it fiction?” premise of the above adds that layer of mystique to the band before the first note of the first track has even been played. When the album is then played, the initial sound falls somewhere in between 30 Seconds To Mars, Linkin Park and Shindown. It is a sound the band describe as ‘Cinematic Rock’ and will certainly resonate with fans of the afore mentioned yet offers something new, intriguing and well worth repeated listens.
Starset’s first single, ‘My Demons‘ has been on the Billboard chart for a record-setting 41 weeks at the time of writing this review. According to their record label Razor & Tie, this marks the longest chart run of the year and the longest chart climb to the Top 5 for any artist since the launch of the chart in 1981. Pretty impressive for a début single.
Transmissions, is indeed a wonderful blast of cinematic rock full of epic orchestral pieces, solid rock riffs and poignant thoughts and lyrics. Vocalist and songwriter Dustin Bates has a great range in a voice which reminds me of Chester Bennington, capable of the smoothest sound possible yet in the same breath can destroy the soundscape with powerful roars and growls when the songs call for it. The album opens proper with ‘First Light‘ and plays out like a trailer for a Sci-Fi movie, teasing hints of what is to come, sampling and bass driven soundtrack suggesting as the comments above state that the earth is faced with an impeding disaster. Sound samples and techno, bass driven elements add to the soundscape throughout the rest of the album and further listens help draw the subtle nuances out that the band are striving for.
Linkin Park similarities (but not plagiarisms) start ‘Halo’, with Bates vocals sitting comfortably over the top of some wonderful mixing and sampling akin to the famous Joe Hahn. ‘Carnivore’ delivers a sound not unlike Shinedown and Bates does a great job of mirroring the wonderful vocal style of Brent Smith. On ‘Telescope’ he proves his skill at knowing when anger, energy and volume can be dispensed to deliver an unforgettably melodic slow-burning message about how we look to the stars and know that somewhere out there are other life forms, the haunting whispered line “I will Find You….” resonating long after the song has finished. The cinematic quality of the album is further highlighted on this track as well with the song essentially playing out some 4 minutes in and the final minute and a half makes way for an orchestral interlude with radio transmission sampling that then neatly segues into the next track ‘It Has Begun’.
The cinematic interludes continue on the other tracks, often pausing the middle of a song to add layers of gravitas and helps emphasise the whole album concept. The band harmonise on the hooks and choruses again adding just another layer and depth to the overall sound as ably demonstrated on ‘Antigravity’. ‘Dark On Me’ almost feels like the lyric is spoken by someone lost and alone in the world, having lost everything and in need of help, “ Blinded I can’t do this on my own, You are all I’ve got to guide me home“.
Starset successfully add space / sci-fi led components in every song without it coming across as corny. As noted earlier, to maintain the cinematic experience, they add pure instrumental elements to every track and radio signals / broadcasts to enable the listener to fully immerse in the story. When you pair the pure rock stylings, piano work and string sections it proves Starset are a band who have a very bright future. If I had heard this earlier in the year, it would have been a clear contender for one of my top five for 2014.
Written by Adrian Hextall
Ratings Adrian 9/10