Review Summary: A modern rock band reaching for the stars.
Starset starts their career with an ambitious record. The band, formed by Dustin Bates (Lead singer for Downplay) is backed by the story of a group of scientists, the Starset Society. Starset is here to spread awareness of the fact that the world changing discoveries of numerous scientists in the Society are being stripped by a Governmental Agency, known as the United States Capitalism Oversight Organization.
While this is just a made up story, the band really built their album around this tale of scientists, making it a concept album without you even noticing it. If you aren’t paying attention, lyrics like ‘Who are you to change this world"’ and ‘Take away everything I am’ may just seem like your everyday modern rock album, in the fashion of Breaking Benjamin and Red. Ofcourse the similarities are there in the music itself, with the epic strings on every track, the drumming by ex-Red drummer Joe Rickard, production by Rob Graves, the modern rock riffs and Dustin Bates sounding really similar to Benjamin Burnley.
But then the Transmission starts…
You are welcomed with distorted horns, sounding like the opening of an epic action movie. Voices start talking about changing this world and sending your message out. 'First Light' builds itself up into a symphonic dubstep track, Starting to make this album sound more like a soundtrack than a modern rock album. The soundtrack feel stays in the whole record, and is what really sets this apart from other modern rock bands. Songs like 'Halo' and 'My Demons' really stand out, with their catchy choruses, big synths and epic symphonics. It’s huge, but never really going over the top. The album’s production and mixing is the best I have heard in a long time, making the soundtrack aspirations really shine.
While this may seem like a really good record, it is a bit too long to keep you entertained, as songs like 'The Future Is Now', 'Point of No Return', and 'Rise and Fall' could have just been removed from the album. While the interludes of the last two tracks are amazing, it would be better if the songs which they are attached too weren’t there. The album has loads of these epic interludes, with spoken word passages about astrology, backed by the spacy soundtrack. Without these parts the album would sadly fall flat on its face, sounding just like another Breaking Benjamin album.
I really enjoyed this album, but I would like to see these guys dropping the modern rock genre, and trying something else. The soundtrack parts are epic, but are taken down by the generic guitar riffs and songwriting. If they would focus more on this and maybe add some solos, Starset might actually reach the stars.