Review Summary: While “Vessels” doesn’t quite measure up to “Transmissions,” it is still able to stand on its own pretty well.
In 2014, Starset released “Transmissions,” and were met with a pretty positive response from a lot of music enthusiasts. The songs “My Demons” and “Carnivore” in particular were pretty successful, and caused many to pay close attention to them. A lot of people (including me) were also introduced to them because of their tour with “Breaking Benjamin.” Now, in 2017, are they able to pull off a good follow up album" Well, it depends on the person, but I would argue that they have done a pretty good job and still have basically all the same positives working for them that made "Transmissions” successful.
Musically, they sound pretty similar and haven’t deviated too far from their debut sound. One criticism that some had of their first album was the drawn out instrumental sections that came at the end of some songs. They continue to do this on “Vessels,” and it is sure to draw the same kind of criticism that they received before. I personally don’t mind the instrumental sections, but I wish that they would just make them into short filler songs instead. They often aren’t really a “part” of the song, and it wouldn’t detract from the songs to just separate them. Whether or not someone cares for these instrumental sections though, I think it’s fair to say that the music is all pretty well composed from a technical standpoint.
Songs like “Ricochet” and “Everglow” are more electronically based songs, but still contain a clear rock element to them. But there are also some songs that are heavier than “Starset” usually gets. “Bringing It Down” and “Into The Unknown” in particular use some very heavy guitar riffs, and utilize more screaming than usual. For the most part though, the music has a symphonic rock sound with lots of electronic effects. The songs are generally not quite as catchy as the one’s on “Transmissions,” but they are mostly still pretty catchy. Especially tracks like “Monster,” “Ricochet,” “Telepathic,” and “Back To The Earth” don’t take too long to get stuck in your head.
The vocals are all pretty well done, and work well with the songs. Almost anyone can probably think of singers that they enjoy more, but Dustin Bates is a pretty competent vocalist who appears to put a lot of energy and emotion into his work. Lyrically, I wasn’t generally as impressed with “Vessels” as I was with “Transmissions,” but even the lyrics I don’t care for don’t quite seem cringe-worthy to me. And I could easily see some people enjoying the lyrical content just as much as (or more than) what is contained in “Transmissions.”
The main lyrical themes include inner battles between right and wrong, varying commentary on relationships, and seeking to improve one’s perspective in order to become a better person. “Monster” is an obvious example of the war within, and brings to mind previously made songs like “Down With The Fallen” and “My Demons.” It contains lyrics such as “I've made an art of digging shallow holes, I drop the darkness in and watch it grow,” which demonstrate the failed attempts one might make at trying to kill the monster within them. “Satellite,” on the other hand, more hopefully says: “shine your light and set me free, take the darkness out of me, shine on me.”
“Ricochet” is about a relationship that flew too close to the sun and left nothing for the two involved hearts to do but hopelessly ricochet off of each other, while “Telepathic” describes a frustrated lover who feels that the other person is unrealistically expecting telepathy from him/her. “Die For You” sounds reminiscent to the previously released “Let It Die,” and is predictably about someone loving another person strongly enough that they would be willing to die for them if the need arose.
In conclusion, deciding what rating to give this album came down to whether or not it sufficiently stands on its own without the help of “Transmissions.” If this album was someone’s first introduction to the band, would “Vessels” be intriguing enough to keep them coming back for more" For me, even though I don’t think it’s their best album, it is still good enough that I would want to keep following their music. The songs “Monster,” “Back To The Earth,” and “Into The Unknown” would be the three main reasons why. Not to say that those are the only good songs, by any means. There’s plenty here that I enjoy, but those three are the sorts of songs that would cause me to take notice because of the great singing, tunes, instrumentation, and lyrical themes they contain. You might not care too much for anything here, especially if you didn’t’ like anything on “Transmissions,” but I definitely recommend giving “Vessels” a listen because there’s a decent chance that you’ll enjoy at least some of what you hear.
Back To The Earth
Into The Unknown