This is stellar. Starset's Divisions is the Ohio space rock group's third album. A concept album like their previous work, Divisions takes this band to an entirely new dimension. A commentary on humanity's last defensive struggle to maintain freedom of thought in a world controlled by our own technology, the 13-track journey opens with an ambient dialog. Describing a barren world empty of brainpower and emotion, the opener sets us up for the spacecore darkness of "Manifest" and the electronic despair of "Echo." We move on to "Where The Skies End," where our familiar dialog friend opens up on the promise of other worlds before a synth-metal mix takes over. Dustin Bates sings of an oncoming war and the human purpose to survive and move on "past the horizon" before instrumental closure and system failures settle in. "Perfect Machine" enters the scene quietly as an atmospheric tale of deception, but explodes into a chorus of hopelessness and forfeited love. A gem of a track, it ends with the seeming patrolling of mankind and systematic destruction of free thought. "Telekinetic" follows with the album's heaviest moments, setting up the analogy between the dystopian mind control and the narrator's puppet-like control under his romantic interest. Highlighting the song and the album is the brutal breakdown that earns the 'spacecore' title.
The second half of the journey begins with "Stratosphere," whose lyrics dig deeply, further illuminating the album's cosmic imagery, and highlighting the seeming toxicity of the war at hand. Featuring a more electronic breakdown, this one's not to be forgotten. "Faultlines" follows with more upbeat instrumentation, making excellent use of the ambient, electronic sounds and string synths. Powering down and all of a sudden, we're in the midst of "Solstice," a song that sounds like we're on the brink of losing control of our own minds - humanity's last stand. The minute-long instrumental at the end primes you for a cinema-style final battle, and it delivers with the fight anthem, "Trials." A genuinely riveting track, "Trials" feels like it echoes and fades into space before the panicked outro bleeds into "Waking Up." Here, we feel the narrator's out-of-body senses, the inhumane, void feeling of a mind trapped in its own body. Heading towards the end of the album, "Other Worlds Than These" seems to ponder our own very existence in the first place; did we ever have control of our minds? Did we have a purpose, even if we did have control? Overlayed on electronic patterns and chugging guitars, the lyrics paint these questions in the stars. We close with the cross-genre ballad "Diving Bell," a remorseful acknowledgment that the narrator can't return to the past, whether it be love or the world we once knew. "Divisions" dies down with a fireside hymn, the first earthly notion produced in the entire album, leaving us all to wonder the fate of the few who remain outside of civilization, safe from the thought-controlling oppression that stimulates us all.
This is a thoughtful masterpiece, between its careful layout, precise instrumentation, and the lyrical commentary on the largely unnoticed war on free thought. Definitely check out this album, whether you're into electronic, rock, metal, or anything in-between. The emotional and instrumental ride, full of dialogs and astronomical interfaces, guarantees at the very least an entertaining listen.