Review Summary: An overblown, cliched, and utterly flawed record, though the overall product does end up being surprisingly enjoyable.
Pretentious may be a wee bit of an understatement when describing Starset’s debut album Transmissions
. In fact, that may be an understatement for the whole band in general. Don’t get me wrong, this record is actually quite enjoyable, but not in a way you’d expect. Starset themselves are based on a fictional sci-fi like story about a secret society and some made-up government organization that’s practically trying to kill every member of the band and their followers. And as for the album, it’s just as cheesy as it gets. And thus a question arises: just how overblown can a simple alternative rock band get?
The whole record is an hour long, with almost every song scoring a time between four to six minutes. The reason why these songs are so long is simply because the ridiculous amounts of Hans Zimmer like orchestrations that are just simply nothing but filler and act more as a distraction. A perfect example is the song ‘Antigravity.’ While the song is technically only around three minutes, the whole two minute orchestration comes in after it and you do nothing but wonder whether or not if it’s really necessary. Even the shorter songs, ‘Halo’ and ‘Point of No Return,’ have this problem and it just continues this awful trend throughout the whole record. But despite this, there is another issue, and that is that the whole album itself isn’t really original enough to make a long-lasting impression. The guitar riffs and drumming are the typical clichéd stuff you’ve heard before while the vocals have that Benjamin Burnely style that does end up getting old after the first listen.
But with that said how is this record still enjoyable? Despite its flaws, the album’s overproduction actually works in the songs favor for the most part. ‘Down with the Fallen’ is actually a decent opener as the instrumental mixture works actually quite well. Songs like ‘Carnivore’ and ‘My Demons’ have the catchy choruses that grab your attention and the vocals are at their best here. And while Rob Graves does have a knack for putting strings in every album that he produces, they actually are a nice element to the overall sound and give the album more of an atmosphere instead of the record just being filled to the brink with electronic attributes.
And you know what, the whole overblown aspect to this album does actually add to the charm of Transmissions
. Sure if you’re not used to the whole concept idea, then you’re just going to laugh it off and walk away from this. But in a sense, it’s as if the band wanted this to be some pretentious outburst of a record and they’re okay with that. Perhaps no one really expects some alternative rock band to set the bar rather high in terms of the sound, but it doesn’t make it an absolute monstrosity or anything like that.
Even for an album like this Transmissions
is actually an enjoyable record to say the most. While the overall nature of this album goes way more over the edge than it should, it still remains a solid, if passible record. But whether or not it’s worth buying I couldn’t agree to due to its immense flaws, but it is worth listening to give Starset credit. However, if this does end up spawning singles, it’s best to leave out the “Hans Zimmer film score" moments.