Transmissions by Starset – Review
Concept albums are always interesting to listen to, and Starset’s album “Transmissions” is no different. The groups name is based off of a science fiction story that has a secret society and a government organization who is trying to shut down both the band (the messengers) and their followers.
The album itself isn’t too long, clocking in at around an hour, so the journey is short enough that listeners won’t feel like they are being clobbered over the head with the message, but it may have listeners starving for just a little more, as each song expands one idea and moves on. We would suggest that you listen to the album as a whole, without the use of a shuffle. The reason is that each of the songs has an epic sounding instrumental morsel in-between each song. It’s reminiscent of a movie score, and will either add to the presentation or annoy you. We do admit that after listening to the album quite a few times, we tend to skip over these little “transmissions,” because we think we already understand the message. These little breaks also seem to be nice bookmarks between some of the album’s stand out songs like “Point of No Return” and “Halo.”
In particular, “Halo” stands out for the lead singer Dustin Bates vocals. He sounds urgent, which is important given that each of the songs are meant to be hidden messages that they’re trying to get out to their followers. “Antigravity” has a particularly longer instrumental element that came after it was over. This song acted like a much needed breathe from the crunching guitar riffs and the soaring vocals. It brings up a feeling of longing and the instrumental after extends that feeling for a minute or two more.
A few other standouts on the album are “My Demons,” “Down with the Fallen,” and “Carnivore.” These three songs have Starset moving into territory that will have fans of Breaking Benjamin perking their ears up. “My Demons” follows the introspective narrative of a man struggling to hang on to his sanity. If he just holds on, his savior (who is unnamed perhaps for interpretive reasons) will come and make “everything okay.” “Down With the Fallen” is the opener of the album and sets the ground work. The society (“empire”) is falling and the narrator is searching “through the darkness below for a light in seas of shadows.” “Carnivore” is interesting in its metaphorical use of the term, but listeners will probably grasp to the striking line: “Who are you to change this world?”
For Starset’s debut album, they definitely set their own bar high. Concept albums, at least as far as we know, tend to be something that the most ambitious of bands do. Basically what they’re telling the listener is that they are not only worth a listen, but they are worth a complete, uninterrupted listen. Chances are fans of groups like Breaking Benjamin, Red, Skillet, and Thirty Seconds to Mars will find some common ground with their sound and even embrace the group.
They definitely deserve to be embraced, so why not have a listen to Transmissions by Starset. And let us know what you think.