Starset – Divisions (Album Review)

STARSET – Divisions
Released: September 13th, 2019

Line-up:

Dustin Bates // Vocals/Keyboard
Ron DeChant // Bass/Backing Vocals
Brock Richards // Guitar/Backing Vocals
Adam Gilbert // Drums/Backing Vocals

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Hailing from the talent filled town of Columbus, Ohio, Starset were formed in 2013 by vocalist and keyboardist Dustin Bates. Divisions is their third offering and was released on September 13th. Bates is an extremely interesting character who is a great musician, but also a PhD candidate so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the album. Upon listening to it however, I was absolutely thrilled! There’s a lot of light, shade and experimentation happening with the themes and the music on Divisions but it’s fanbloodytastic!

The album kicks off with A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FUTURE, which sets the scene of a dystopian future divided by technology and the war for human consciousness. It plays like a radio transmission that has been interrupted by Bates speaking his vocals. ‘MANIFEST’ is next and it hits you like a punch in the guts around the 20 second mark with a heavy breakdown and vocal section before the first verse starts. I really enjoyed the contrast of light – the verses – and shade – the choruses – on this track and I was sold on the band within the first minute. Next is ‘ECHO’ and it gives me real Bring Me The Horizon vibes, specifically tracks like ‘Follow You’, and ‘Drown’. Whilst vocally it is simplistic, there is still a depth to them, and the instrumentals are simply divine. One of the standout tracks for me personally.

‘WHERE THE SKIES END’ is track four and it’s a sick mix of metal and electronica musically and pleasing to the ear. It’s one of the lengthier tracks on the album at around 6 and a half minutes and has a real prog-rock kind of feel to it. There’s also some really cool stringed instrumentals throughout the track that give it a nice flavour. Next is ‘PERFECT MACHINE’ and it’s a bit of a ballad, but is still suitably heavy for the tone that’s been set for the album. You really feel the vocals and the bass in your stomach on this one and it encourages positive visceral reactions, live this would absolutely go off! ‘TELEKINETIC’ follows and during the verses a vocoder is being utilised to make Dustin Bates’ voice sound a little synthetic which is super cool. There’s a really heavy breakdown in the latter half of the track and it made me clench my fists and just say ‘yessssss’ under my breath.

‘STRATOSPHERE’ hits your ears next and I personally got totally lost in the musicality of it and it’s just an all-around beautiful track. Those Bring Me The Horizon vibes are back again, as well as local legends like Karnivool and Circles. Next is ‘FAULTLINE’ and seems like a cleverly disguised break-up song, especially with lyrics like ‘You’ve been seeing red and there’s no one left to plane’, and ‘I never know if it’s your fault or mine’. Another favourite, mostly for the lyrics and musically is a bit of a bop. We hear ‘SOLSTICE’ next and it’s another very clever mix of instrumentals and electronica, but lyrically it’s probably the weakest track on the album. They’re really repetitive, but the layers of instrumentals backing them up saves it a little.

‘TRIALS’ is next and it’s anthemic as fuck in the intro and is probably the rockiest track on the album. Adam Gilbert takes us all to school with his drumming on this one and shows off his rather impressive ability on his instrument. ‘WAKING UP’ is third to last and I can see it being remixed by someone like Skrillex or Steve Aoki because it just fits with that aesthetic. It’s probably the most different track on the album and is a little surprising, but also clever change of pace on the album. Next is ‘OTHER WORLDS THAN THESE’ and it made me think of Breathe Carolina to start off with, mostly because they’re a band known for mixing dubstep in with their heavier music style. Another favourite on the record for me and I wish it was higher up in the track listing, but it also definitely fits where it is. Finally we come to ‘DIVING BELL’, and it really is the perfect way to finish the album as it summarises what’s gone on throughout Divisions. Make sure you listen to the entire track because the last half of it has a really eerie vibe because of the sound of crackling fire and just really cool.

Overall, Divisions is an exploration both musically and thematically. It’s nothing at all like you expect it to be and I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised. It asks a lot of questions about technology and questioning ourselves about life and our identity, but is presented in a way that’s easy to understand and just 100% enjoyable. A new favourite  of mine that will find its way into my daily listening!

Starset-SyntesisCoverDSP-3600

Starset – Divisions tracklisting:

1. A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FUTURE
2. MANIFEST
3. ECHO
4. WHERE THE SKIES END
5. PERFECT MACHINE
6. TELEKINETIC
7. STRATOSPHERE
8. FAULTLINE
9. SOLSTICE
10. TRIALS
11. WAKING UP
12. OTHER WORLDS THAN THESE
13. DIVING BELL

Rating: 9/10
Divisions is out now via Fearless Records. Purchase here.
Review by Kelsey Trevan. @kelsey_139

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  1. Dustin Bates – STARSET (Audio Interview) – Wall Of Sound

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