Some bands are hard to fit into a single genre mold.
Blending heavy rock, pop, metal and electronic elements in their newest release “Divisions,” Starset is one of those bands.
The album dropped Sept. 13 and consists of 13 tracks and is 58 minutes long.
In “Divisions,” concepts of organizations ruling with technology, the loss of love and hopelessness are told once more in a darker, heavier sound.
This album continues a larger story that has been told through their other albums “Transmissions” and “Vessels” as well as a graphic novel made in partnership with Marvel.
To start the album, lead singer and band founder Dustin Bates monologues in “The Brief History of the Future.”
Two of the lines stick out.
“Most minds here have long since atrophied from lack of use. They wait in flatline for the next rushing jolt of synthetic stimulation.”
The first line connects with the idea of humanity’s dependency on technology leading to less ability to critically think.
In a 2013 article from the Pew Research Center, it was reported 56 percent of American adults owned a smartphone.
The second line can be attributed to society’s desperate need for likes, shares and comments on social media, creating the jolt of synthetic stimulation.
During research conducted by psychologist Melissa G. Hunt for the “Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology,” she reported correlation between social media and loneliness and depression. She also reported cutting back on social media led to less anxiety.
Following the intro monologue, the track “Manifest” begins. This track was the first single of the album and released the same day the album was announced. It coincided with a music video.
The track starts with soft vocals, followed by a heavy guitar riff and dense drums as the vocal gets briefly heavy, yelling manifest. This state continues to show up as the intro is a portion of the chorus.
“’Cause you fall in and fall away. This love is in retrograde.”
The first two lines of the chorus seem to discuss the coming and going of relationships.
Based on Bates’ love for space and his master’s degree in avionic engineering from Ohio University, we can assume his use of the term retrograde is the astronomical version that describes the orbit of a planet that runs counter to the spin of what it orbits.
This would mean the relationship only connects briefly as it falls in, then as it is turning the connection falls away.
This point is furthered in the first verse.
“Gravity, I pull on you. Close enough to rendezvous. You come to me and then you slip right through. I’m in the solitude.”
Now the relation has fallen out again and the character of the song feels alone.
In the second verse, the character starts to catch on to the habits and methods of the person, until they switch it up.
Entering the bridge, the character comes to terms that they were never in sync and how the character now feels left behind.
It is also important to note, in the music video for this track, much of society seems to be under some form of mind control through implants in the left temple. Displaying three vertical red dots.
In the video, some are more controlled than others as their dots are white, and they move more freely than their red counter-parts. There is also a secret group removing implants from certain people.
Mind control is nothing new to Starset.
In the track “Monster,” from their album “Vessels,” a shadowy being walks around a city where everyone is wearing a holographic simulator, causing them to be in a fake reality.
The next track, “Echo,” starts with an electronic melody followed by deep bass, eventually converging together.
It also seems to hint to listeners the character was now under the mind control.
“I was only in my mind. You were on the outside, waiting.”
It is possible the relationship discussed in “Manifest” was corrupted based on the influences of the mind control implant and the partner didn’t have it.
The character states being able to hear the partner at times, but then only hears the echo of his own voice.
The track that follows, “Where the Skies End,” was the second single of the album, the longest track and contained a music video.
The track starts with quote from the 1940 film “To New Horizons,” a movie that discusses the advancement of technology changing the desires and structures of society.
“Where the Skies End” describes with each new generation, they must break the chains of the old generation that is typically in charge holding back progress.
In the music video, it shows people in a dim, red-lit prison facility under the implants mind control. However, there is something wrong as the prisoners are screaming in agony.
At the end of the video, the battery of one of the implants shuts down, the screen goes black, and the prisoner is shown free outside of the complex’s walls.
During the sixth track, “Telekinetic,” we are taken back to the album’s main character. The character has slipped further into the controls of the mind control implant.
This track is the heaviest of the album as Bates incorporates more heavy rock into the chorus. At the bridge point of the song, Bates screams the second half.
The very last lines of the bridge “You take my control. Mind, body and soul. In this lie,” he is in a full scream and a robotic voice takes over to end the bridge as it repeats “lie” five times.
Ending the song, the outro is the noise of an oxygen mask and what sounds like a life support pod opening.
The next track “Stratosphere” takes a much lighter electronic tone, despite the depressing lyrics.
It opens with an electronic melody and the intro vocals being a soft echo of the songs name.
The lyrics consist of dying by asphyxiation caused by complete despair.
The track also featured a music video of a middle-aged woman, with a deactivated mind control implant, in all white remembering what seems to be a wedding gone wrong.
Her memory is of flowers being dropped from a blast, signaled by crashing ocean waves, that occurs behind her, and an unidentified man falls to the floor.
Light electronic tones continue with tracks “Faultline” and “Solstice” almost as if they’re the calm before the storm.
That storm comes in the track “Trials,” which brings back a heavy drumline and intense guitar on the chorus.
The track opens with loud, clear vocals that sound as if they are part of a group chant, followed by the first verse that includes an action imposing electronic beat.
“Doomsday, you had it coming. Marching the streets with an iron fist. Obey no more in silence.”
These lyrics seem to show many have been freed from the mind control devices from earlier in the album. Either their batteries started failing on mass scale or the secret group seen in the first music video was successful at shutting enough off to mount a rebellion.
The final line of the first verse compares their rising to that of Lazarus, the character in the Bible who was brought back by Jesus after four days of death.
On the outro of the track, someone steps up to a printing machine and doesn’t have access to an item they desire to print. This alludes back to the machine that could print any item from the atomic level, one of the ways the corporation in the Starset lore took over.
“Waking Up,” the 11th track switches back to an electronic pop sound before going back into a moderately toned rock song on the track “Other Worlds Than These.”
Ending the album, “Diving Bell” — the third single to be released with a music video — closes “Divisions” with its most somber track.
The track contains lyrics about solitude, sinking into the abyss and promising to see someone again someday.
When the music cuts, a crackling fire with the sounds of nighttime insects begins and a female starts to sing, “Wake me when the new day comes. Together we will ride the sun. The future is an empty gun. We ride on to them one-by-one.”
This could be a signal towards another album coming, furthering the story of Starset.