Starset – Divisions (2019)

Starset have returned after a lengthy hiatus with a worthy successor to Vessels, which released as a 2.0 version last year with an unexpected Type O Negative cover of “Love You To Death” which actually managed to impress me. Yes, say what you want about the saccharine pop infusions that these guys are known for; they really nailed Type O Negative. As far as the disc goes, it is generally a heavier effort and there are even a few attempts at harsh vocals from the frontman. Unfortuantely, he seems a bit out of practice in this area (and to be honest, there weren’t a lot of harsh vocals in Downplay either) and I highly recommend just hiring another guy to do those.

The disc is suprisingly heavier, actually utlilizing djent and synthwave to it’s own benefit (and Starset frontman Dustin Bates just released a solo synthwave record that I found equally on-par with their metal efforts.) While Metal Archives would never fully recognize an act like this as metal, there’s definitely enough thump here to at least classify the band in an electro-metal category, which can be dodgy at best; especially since they have a hard rock leaning that comes across as afar more competent and complex version of Imagine Dragons during their early era. My problem with Imagine Dragons, especially now is the fact that they’ve become a caricature of both electronic music and pop-rock. Have you ever sat down and analyzed their compositions? A child could write most of it in an hour of FL Studio. Especially the lyrics, which are dumbed down for a radio audience.

Starset however, pushes the electronic rock that we’re so familiar with now thanks to Imagine Dragons, to a level that doesn’t even sound human. If there’s any one song that really hits for me, it has to be “Perfect Machine” which just recently became a single. As it should be, because the song is an electrifying display of emotion, which I feel embodies the very essence of this band. It is not a very heavy cut, but the amount of depth in it’s composition and vocal stylings always manage to make the hair stick up on the back of my neck. The chorus line alone never fails to elicit chills.

Rate Your Music oddly enough doesn’t consider this record to be as memorable as the band’s previous efforts, though that might be due to the simple fact that it is much heavier than the fans were expecting and that’s fine with me. It’s obvious that Starset are fans of metal and they wanted to make a chunkier disc this time around. Vessels was great, but aside from “Satellite” I didn’t find the piece that be all that thrilling. I need a little bit of guitar, I need a little bit of depth in sofar as the electronic compositions were considered. That’s what they’ve given me here. Sure, there are dance-club beats and modern pop infusions, but at least Divisions has some merit. If your kid is jamming this thing, don’t knock them for it.

Yes, there is heavier shit out there and I’ll be covering that as you well know; but this one just came as a breath of fresh air in a scene where everyone seems to be obsessed with how extreme and technical they can be. There’s nothing wrong with a catchy album, and this one has enough bite to at least assure me that rock is on the right path.

(13 Tracks, 59:00)

8/10

Purchase (Amazon)

8.0

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