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Starset: Vessels

Starset
Vessels
January 20th, 2017
Razor & Tie Records
Revenant Rating: 9/10
vessels
Track listing:
The Order
Satellite
Frequency
Die For You
Ricochet
Starlight
Into the Unknown
Gravity of You
Back to the Earth
Last to Fall
Bringing It Down
Unbecoming
Monster
Telepathic
Everglow

I have heard the future of music, and it belongs to Starset.
How does a band follow-up their critically acclaimed full length debut release? If that band is Starset, and you’re founder and sonic architect Dustin Bates, you once again enlist the aid of producer Rob Graves, and mixing engineer Ben Grosse to help you create an entirely new genre of music and redefine the way your fans will experience your sophomore release.
Vessels, Starset’s follow-up to their 2014 release, Transmissions, defies every notion of how Bates’ music would be defined by the narrow confines of the rock and metal genres. In his off time, Bates, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering, has done research for the US Air Force and NASA. How does his government work affect his musical career? With Vessels, Bates is using his vast knowledge to engineer an elaborate aural anthology that will forever challenge Starset’s faithful fans, all the while continuing to deliver on the powerful promises made throughout Starset’s debut, Transmissions.
Bates, admittedly nervous about how the album would be received by Starset’s fans, approached Vessels with the singular intent on pushing boundaries. For Vessels, Bates carefully crafted each individual sound, strategically inserting each note into the album’s tracks.
Working again with producer by Rob Graves (Halestorm, Red) and mixer by Ben Grosse (Breaking Benjamin, Filter), each vessel on the band’s sophomore release speaks for itself. From the galactic pulses circulated throughout opener “Satellite”, to the atmospheric waves of “Back To The Earth” and continuing on to the driving hooks of the album’s lead single, “Monster”, Bates has succeeded in escaping the gravitational pull of formula radio rock. He has reimagined his genre-defying vision as an arena where Hans Zimmer interfaces with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Trent Reznor. Bates’ vocals range from the pleading tones of the album’s 3rd single “Ricochet” to gutteral growls of “Bringing It Down” and “Frequency”.
Whether or not it was intentional, with Vessels, Bates has created a completely new genre of music. While many musicians aim for the Moon, Bates uses Vessels to aim for the very edge of the galaxy, and firmly stakes Starset’s claim at the borders of fantasy and reality. Vessels is the indefinite continued progress of our existence, merging with events in the past, present and future regarded as a whole.
Bates’ lyrical themes, which with deeper thought can be relatable to most, is full of extra-stellar planet discovery and colonization analogies, coupled with the impact of hyper advances in technology on our personal lives and how our addictions to electronic devices affects those in our personal lives. It doesn’t take a genius of Bates’ level to prove Starset are a truly visionary multi-media collective.
At its lyrical core, I find Vessels to be a love story. A tragic love story full of loss, regret, remorse and redemption. Not since Evanescence’s major label debut, Fallen, have I been so completely drawn into an album.
Vessels will redefine the way you listen to music.
The concept held within the confines of each track create a story that so many of us have been through. After almost two months of listening to Vessels, I’ve broken the album’s track listing down into 4 acts. Keep in mind, this is how I interpret the story being told in Vessels.

Act I
The Order
Satellite
Frequency
Die For You
Act I begins our hero’s journey. While not officially named, I’ll refer to him as Apollo. Apollo is expressing his undying love to our heroine, which I will aptly refer to as Haley.

Act II
Ricochet
Starlight
Into the Unknown
Gravity of You
Act II is a bit rocky and shows the frailty of the human psyche when the emotion of love is involved. Haley, for an unknown reason, rejects Apollo’s love. Apollo isn’t ready to give up though.

Act III
Back to the Earth
Last to Fall
Bringing It Down
Unbecoming
While trying to find a way to rescue himself from the loss of Haley’s love, Act III allows Apollo the chance to come to terms with his emotions and the realization that their love is over. But letting go is easier said than done. Separating himself emotionally from Haley isn’t working. Apollo must put interstellar distance behind himself and Haley. This distance though only causes more anger and regret to envelope him.

Act IV
Monster
Telepathic
Everglow
The damage from Act III is irreparable. Act IV is Apollo’s brutal realization that some emotional damage cannot be undone, no matter how hard you try to move on. While trying to separate himself from his emotions, Apollo has succeeded in becoming the monster he feared he always was. Distancing himself from his emotions brings some solace, but those caustic emotions, when left unchecked, always find a way back to the surface.

“What began as a near-planetary collision of sound, vision and iconoclastic ideologies inspired by the likes of Nikola Tesla and Ray Kurzweil (AKA: The Father of Singularity) has taken a bold step forward with Vessels.
Starset’s message has been received and downloaded.
Transmission complete.”

ves·sel

ˈvesəl/
noun
noun: vessel; plural noun: vessels
  1. 1 a :  a container (as a cask, bottle, kettle, cup, or bowl) for holding something b :  a person into whom some quality (as grace) is infused <a child of light, a true vessel of the Lord — H. J. Laski>

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