Album Review – Vessels by Starset

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Several words or phrases can be used to describe the band Starset and their new album Vessels, but the phrase that sticks out the most is ‘out of this world.’ Vessels is their sophomore release following the success of Transmissions in 2014.

For those perhaps unfamiliar with Starset, they are an electronic rock band led by lead singer Dustin Bates, who has a pretty intense interest in astronomy and outer space. Bates, joined by Ron DeChant (bass, keyboard, backing vocals), Brock Richards (guitar and backing vocals) and Adam Gilbert (drums), create an album full of things their fans love, but it’s likely not an album that will appeal to those checking out the band for the first time.

To fall in love with both this album and band, the first thing a listener needs to do is listen with an open mind. It’s a strong album vocally with lyrics that can connect with the listener, and compelling instrumentals. However, if you go in expecting it to be like every other rock album you’ve listened to, you’re expecting the wrong thing.

The album opens with a song titled “The Order,” which immediately grabs the listener’s attention. It’s a short instrumental song lasting only a little over a minute, but it’s one worth listening to and not skipping just because of a lack of lyrics. It’s followed by four songs similar to the sound the previous album gave off, which just entices the listener. “Satellite,” “Frequency,” “Die For You,” and “Ricochet” have that very familiar vibe, which are very enjoyable.

Once you get to “Ricochet,” the tone of the album changes. It becomes more emotional, which admittedly, does sort of begin with “Die For You.” Lyrics like There’s no pain that I won’t go through / Even if I have to die for you in, of course, “Die For You,” highlight a man professing his love, but the album quickly takes a turn. The tone change is one of the many things besides the lyrics that make this album so beautiful.

“Ricochet,” a personal favourite of mine, opens with a very techno/electric sound, and when the lyrics begin, you get the feel of a relationship gone sour. The lyrics You’d hang on every word I’d say / But now they only ricochet are about someone trying to keep their relationship alive, but everything they say gets taken for granted and thrown back in their face. The lyrics are powerful, as with most on the album.

If there’s one complaint to be made with this album, it’s with the song “Into The Unknown,” which is a great song on its own, but this album is meant to tell a story. This particular song just doesn’t fit with the rest.

Beginning with “Last To Fall” on down to “Bringing It Down,” “Unbecoming,” “Monster,” and “Telepathic,” we see the album take another turn to a more angry tone, and less forgiving than in the earlier songs. Some of the songs, particularly “Unbecoming,” have a ballad-like feel to it, while also screaming at the listener, and not grabbing their attention, but stealing it.

The album closes out with a song that can send a shiver down anyone’s spine; “Everglow.” The song is by far the most emotional on the album. It leaves you wondering who hurt Bates, the songwriter and lyricist, because the listener can feel his pain. It’s one of those songs that if you listen closely enough and pay attention to the lyrics, could send a single tear down your face. It’s sad, it’s emotional and it’s truly heartbreaking. The lyrics in the song are so incredibly intimate, it’s impossible to pinpoint just one line as stronger than another.

All in all, this is an album that does not disappoint. With very few weak points, it’s one that begs to be listened to, analyzed and then anaylzed one more time. If you listen to it all the way through in the order it’s meant to be listened to, you’ll understand and likely relate to the story it tells.

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