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Album Reviews : Starset – Vessels

By on July 8, 2017

Sometimes you just have to persist.

My first impressions of this album were that it was very good, excellent in fact, but possibly a little too much on the ‘accessible’ side of the tracks for my more hard-edged tastes in progressive heavy music. The vocals are 95% clean and melodic, and much of it comes across as pure pop. It was only after several listens and a more in-depth ingesting of its wonders did its true magnificence fully come across.

Now, my attitude towards this band is ‘where the hell have you been all my life?’ Well, for the last four or five years of their existence as a band anyway. Previous album, and their debut Transmissions is superb as well.

Ultimately, it is that very juxtaposition of extremely listenable pop music and powerhouse rock that is one of Vessels’ great strengths. Just when you think you are listening to a modern RnB pop album, it explodes with intensity. And of course, the laws of dynamics state that powerful moments are made all the more powerful when set against a more mellow, contrasting background. Frequency is a prime example of this, its bridge section will have you grinding and headbanging with the best heavy bands.

Following Frequency is the album’s best cut, Die for You. Again, a sweet melodic verse leads into one of the most rousing, triumphant big choruses you will ever hear, a chorus that cannot fail to set the hairs on the back of your neck on end.

But, end to end, the overall effect of Vessels is that of a true musical journey, an epic rock opera, the soundtrack of some big budget futuristic action thriller movie, culminating in the surprising and ultimately devastating eight minute climax Everglow.

This album is a stunner, dark, dramatic, intense, heavy and progressive where it needs to be and with strong electronic and symphonic flourishes only adding further to the lush soundscapes, but easily digestible at the same time. It’s actually a miracle that all of these elements have been put together in such a cohesive package, but these guys have managed it.

So, if you dig the heavier side of progressive music, give this a go, but give it more than a few perfunctory listens to allow it to fully penetrate your psyche. You will be glad you persisted.

Band: Starset
Album: Vessels
Year: 2017
Genre: Cinematic rock
Label:  Razor and Tie
Origin: USA


Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine,, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.