Starset is an American Alternative Rock/Metal band founded in 2013 by Dustin Bates. Their debut album, Transmissions, was released in 2014, followed by Vessels in 2017, DIVISIONS in 2019, and HORIZONS in 2021.
There is lore behind all of the media they create, however it isn't very easy to fully absorb, since it's spread across many different places.
- Dustin Bates - lead vocals, keyboards, soundboard (2013-)
- Ron DeChant - bass, keyboards, backing vocals (2013-)
- Brock Richards - guitars, backing vocals (2013-)
- Adam Gilbert - drums, percussion (2013-)
- Siobhán Richards violin, keyboards (2017present)
- Zuzana Engererova cello (2019present)
- Mariko Muranaka Friend violin, cello (20142015; 20182019)
- Nneka Lyn cello (2016)
- Jonathan Kampfe cello (20172018)
- 2014 - Transmissions
- 2017 - Vessels
- 2019 - DIVISIONS
- 2021 - HORIZONS
Tropes that apply to the band:
- Audience Participation Song: "Down With the Fallen".
- Auto-Tune: Used to great effect for the more alien and robotic sounding vocals. Especially noticeable in their song "Telepathic".
- Ascetic Aesthetic: The music video for "STRATOSPHERE".
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Nikola Tesla discovered the Signal long before Steven Browning did, through a very messy Tesla coil setup. However, it never went anywhere because it wasn't profitable.
- Call-Back: The chorus of "OTHER WORLDS THAN THESE" references both "My Demons" and "Monster". Considering the overarching story of DIVISIONS and the ideas of surveillance and control seen within the aforementioned songs, the references are very appropriate.There are monsters in the skyThere are demons in the sea
- Caps Lock: Every track in the DIVISIONS and HORIZONS albums are in all caps, including the album title.
- Crapsack World: Let's see, Earth in the future is taken over by a totalitarian government that brainwashes its citizens using a Lotus-Eater Machine, and eventually undergoes Global Warming, turing into an inhospitable stormy red planet. Fun!
- Cute Machines: The robot worker protagonist of the music video for "Back to The Earth". Many viewers have noted that the robot looks similar to the titular character from WALLE.
- Destructive Romance: "Monster" is about a relationship gone sour due to the narrator's partner's abuse of their trust.
- Disposable Sex Worker: Played straight in the music video of "Ricochet". A widower attempting to resurrect his wife hires several prostitutes and kills them to clone his wife in their bodies.
- Distress Call: Transmissions is presented as one, the song "Frequency" is about LOSING one and not being sure it was ever there in the first place. "My Demons" is about a man, who turns to someone that he thinks can help him. It's unclear whether they even exist.
- Downer Ending: The music video for "TRIALS" has the male lead separated from the female lead and put unconscious after the two are caught using their BMIs to make love to each other.
- Epic Rocking: Clocking in at 7:54, "Everglow" is their longest song to date, and it has a comparatively unique progression (see Genre Shift below). Much of the song is dedicated to its lengthy instrumental ending, which serves as an outro for both the song and the album as a whole.
- FaceMonster Turn: Seems to be one of the themes of "My Demons".I cannot stop this sickness taking overSave me if I become my demons
- Genre Shift:
- "Everglow" the last track of Vessels is a rather soft bass driven track at the end of a rather heavy rock album that sounds like it belongs more on an EDM or Trance album until about halfway in where it goes Metal out of seemingly nowhere letting this song cover from a 4 to an almost 8 on the scale before diving into an almost fantasy movie soundtrack.
- DIVISIONS's "WAKING UP" is all EDM, without a guitar or drum in sight. Despite the lighter tone however, the lyrics are all about being trapped in a false reality within the mind with no escape.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In the music video for "THE BREACH", the female lead switches seats with her child during their escape, resulting in her being Supplicated instead of him.
- Insistent Terminology: They consistently refer to their concerts as "demonstrations".
- Loss of Identity: The narrator in "Carnivore" asks the titular beast to remove everything that makes him, well, him.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: The BMIs (Brain Machine Interface) within DIVISIONS and HORIZON's lore allow their users to experience whatever they want, whenever they want, resulting in a population that is completely subservient since they can just live in an ideal world in their minds and ignore everything else. Not everyone is happy with this, as the video for "THE BREACH" shows.
- Metal Scream: Occasionally used for punctuation, notably in "Down With the Fallen", "Frequency", "Everglow", "TELEKINETIC", "DEVOLUTION", and "SOMETHING WICKED".
- Mind Rape: Supplication, indicated by a mind-machine interface turning red. As seen in the music videos for "WHERE THE SKIES END" and "THE BREACH", it ain't pretty.
- Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Most of their stuff firmly sits on the 7 to 9 end of the spectrum with a few songs dipping to 4. The thematics of darkness and becoming a demon or a monster can spin them a little higher with Vessels sitting slightly higher on the scale than Transmissions.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Solid 6 throughout the entire career.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Their music is hard to define. They're essentially an alternative-progressive-symphonic-electronic rock/metal band.
- Non-Appearing Title: "The Future Is Now" never drops the title in lyrics.
- Not Christian Rock: "My Demons" sounds almost like something off a Skillet album with lyrics like "I need a savior to heal my pain".
- Obsession Song: They have several songs about extreme devotion such as "Die For You", "Halo", and "Satellite".
- Ominous Message from the Future: The primary theme of the band is focused on this.
- Once per Episode: Each of the first three albums has had one song with the prefix tele-: "Telescope", "Telepathic", and "TELEKINETIC". This is probably intentional. HORIZONS broke the streak, though came pretty close with "TUNNELVISION".
- Opening Monologue: Two of the albums so far start with this, both narrated by the lead singer, Dustin Bates.
- Transmissions begins with "First Light", which introduces the Starset Society and its origin and goals.
- DIVISIONS starts off with one titled "A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FUTURE", which describes the state of the society within the album's lore.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: Vessels as whole is a loose story arc of the search for someone lost to space and time only to become a monster and ultimately realize their goal is further and further away than before.
- Revolving Door Band: Almost completely averted. While several touring members have come and gone, the core band has not changed since 2013.
- Robotic Reveal: In the music video of "Ricochet", the protagonist having failed to properly resurrect his wife - his most successful attempt being an Empty Shell - commits suicide on her tombstone. It turns out that he's a robot and his "wife" was actually his owner.
- Robot or Spaceman Alter Ego: The band, aside from Bates, performs wearing illuminated space masks and oxygen tanks. In their kayfabe, they claim that the lyrics were beamed down to them by aliens, with the theme of their album Transmissions being messages from the future beamed to the past. One of the band's members described their albums as essentially being "soundtracks for sci-fi movies". For the DIVISIONS tour, they began donning wasteland scavenger costumes, although they still switch back to the spacesuits during the second half of concerts.
- Sanity Slippage Song:
- "My Demons" is about a man dealing with his inner problems.
- "TELEKINETIC" is about someone succumbing to the alluring effects of the BMI, leaving them with no free will.
- Self-Deprecation: The narrator of "Carnivore" thinks he is not good enough.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Turns up in "Carnivore".Who are you to change this world? Silly boy! No one needs to hear your words. Let it go.
- Singing Voice Dissonance: Dustin Bates has a much deeper talking voice.
- Space Opera: The music itself is one. All of the albums tell stories over their course, and the band themselves portray themselves as messengers from space.
- You Are Not Alone: "Halo".I can see you running, running
Every night from the same darkness
It's coming, coming
But you are not alone
If you just say the word
I'll be there by your side
You make me more
You make me superhuman
And if you need me to
I will save you
- You Are Worth Hell: They have a lot of songs about this level of dedication such as "Halo" and "Satellite". Their most obvious, "Die For You", uses this trope as an example (though the wording is different):One day the earth will open wide and I'll follow you inside
'Cause the only Hell I know is without you