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FEATURES
  TESSERACT
'One'
Release Date: March 22nd 2011
Century Media


Michael Downie

michael downie

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Progressive music has always been known for its willingness to mess with the conventions of a stable genre and add new features, however small they may be, to create something entirely new. Be it adding extra beats into bars to create the oddest time signatures, making keyboards do solos that rival the abilities of the greatest guitarists or even just fusing two genres together to create some new kind of Franken-prog-monster.

3 the ghost you gave to me

The djent scene takes things to a different place and adds ambience to progressive/math Metal to not only emphasise the heavy moments but also add an almost ghostly, sci-fi quality to the music.

Article continues below...

 
 


Bands like Chimp Spanner and Uneven Structure have come out of the woodwork with staggering feats of technicality in their music, but also infuse the guitar acrobatics with futuristic soundscapes, creating something very special indeed, as do our subject band. As one of the early instigators (along with Chimp Spanner), Tesseract pretty much sum up djent as a genre.

One is their debut LP released earlier this year on Century Media. I must say though, for a debut this is a pretty spectacular album.

Opening with a reversing melody line, Lament kicks things off in style. Sounding very mysterious and ethereal, former singer Daniel Tompkins sweetly sings over the top of synths, until the band kick in and things get very heavy indeed. Upgrading from singing to screaming, the song takes on a different feel whatsoever, becoming intense and dark where it was sweet and lilting. The same applies with Nascent, jumping from quiet to LOUD, sometimes even for half a bar, everything changes and nothing is what it seems.

The melodies and harmonies when Tompkins is singing contrast starkly to his screaming/yelling. One thing I did notice as well, when he is screaming, Tompkins is perfectly intelligible, you can hear the words he is saying throughout, which is a good thing for anyone who has ever felt that screaming disconnects them from a song.

The centre point of 'One' is the six part 'Concealing Fate' saga. Initially released as it's own EP, it's a singular 30 minute epic taking in some of the heaviest moments you'll hear on this album. It's within 'Concealing Fate' that guitarists Acle Kahney and James Monteith really get to flex their fingers and treat us to some superb guitar work.

One thing about the djent genre worth pointing out is that the concept of a wild, shredding guitar solo is kind of lost here, there aren't a great many djent bands who entertain guitar solos (at least not that I've heard).

What you get instead is ├╝ber-technical riffing, intricate melody patterns and washing clean lines that add ambience and intensity. Within part one, 'Acceptance', you get a lilting acoustic opener, some really heavy riffing, some less heavy riffing and then near the end, an odd, almost funky section.

Oddly enough though, it never feels or sounds out of place, the changes all manage to complement each other. As the saga moves to part two, Deception, things change a bit, more staccato riffing contrasting against Tompkins' smooth melody line.

'Deception' also happens to contain my favourite riff of the whole album, starting at 3:16. It's hard to describe, but its a fast, almost funky seven string riff that just entirely changes the feel and pace of the song. The songwriting skill behind 'Concealing Fate' is superb, all the tracks blend perfectly into each other, in fact without watching your music player you cannot hear when one track starts and another finishes.

The hypnotic part three, 'The Impossible' blends seamlessly fromDeception, then just takes things up another level, being less about the heaviness than the previous track, it is more melodic throughout it's verses building up to the epic choruses, Tompkins' multilayered vocals atop a multilayered stack of guitars. It's really huge stuff. And then it gets heavy. Kahney and Monteith unleash a monster assault of riffs at the end to lead into part four, 'Perfection'.

'Perfection' blends the best of the previous four tracks into a two and a half minute blast of everything TesseracT are good at. It has the staccato riffing, the epic layers, the huge vocals, the massive drums and walloping bass. It's a good starting point for TesseracT newbies. No sooner have we gotten over that, then the token instrumental comes out to play. Part five, 'Epiphany', goes back to the almost funky riffing of the earlier tracks. A disparate, cold and efficient track, Kahney and Monteith are on fire here offering some superb riffing against high speed slap bass and a wash of cymbals and kick drums from Jay Postones.

Finally, part six, 'Origin' comes into view. Ambience is the name of the game here, with Tompkins' vocals layered on top of primarily clean guitars. There are distorted riffs being played, but they are clearly not the focus as they are buried in the mix underneath cleaner melodies. 'Origin' references back to 'Acceptance' in some of it's lyrics and melodies, tying the whole saga together.

It's quite odd to have such an epic saga in the middle of an album of standalone songs, but somehow it doesn't diminish the rest of the album. The scale and scope of 'Concealing Fate' is matched by the rest of the album and the saga itself works as individual songs, so you don't lose anything by listening to it in disjointed pieces. It's a superb construction and just goes further to show the level of talent on display here.

As we go back to the raft of standalone songs on 'One', the track to follow 'CF', 'Sunrise' takes things in a slightly different direction. There is more experimentation with sound and effects, especially on the guitars and in a rare moment, however brief it is, Tompkins actually sings along with the guitar riffs. Trust me, it doesn't happen anywhere else on the album so it's quite shocking when he does do it. Well, at least to me it is.

'Sunrise' is also a song where you can hear the bass guitar quite easily as it happens to be the quietest song from the rest of the band's standpoint. Amos Williams' clicky bass tone usually gets masked by the huge guitar sound on the rest of the album but you can hear him throughout the latter part of the album.

Normally he tends to follow what the guitars are doing, especially during the particularly heavy sections such as the shouty sections in 'Sunrise', but when things get nice and ambient you can really hear him do his thing and underpin the lead and clean guitar work in the latter section of the song.

Throughout the album, although you can't hear him at times unless you have really good speakers, he is ever present, sat right behind the low tuned guitars, helping to keep things very heavy. He does get his own solo moment at the beginning of April, with a nice funk-inspired riff just before the main vocal comes in.

The real star of the show, though, would have to be Jay Postones' drums. Throughout the album he has to cope with more than any drummer would normally care to. He has to deal with odd time signatures, sudden and unexplained changes in dynamics, light quiet sections and balls to the wall Metal heaviness.

All the while he has to have a level of technicality to match the rest of the music around him. I'm truly amazed at how he manages it. Take the huge, nine minute album closer 'Eden'; Postones manages to balance a deceptively complicated beat under a deceptively complicated guitar riff. The amount he puts into his drums doesn't take anything away from the rest of the band but somehow manages to add to it.

He is mixed in such a way that the kick drum is quite far back (normally in Metal, the kick drum is right at the front of the mix) and the listener's focus is on the cymbals and snare drum. It's almost as if his patterns have been written to keep the listener in time rather than the band. It is truly superb stuff.

Eden is, incidentally, the track the band decided to rerecord and release a video of with new singer Elliot Coleman. There are some major arguments around the internet about who was better, Tompkins or Coleman and I'm not going to review 'Eden 2.0' and get involved with it, what I will say is just listen to it and you will get the idea of where TesseracT have been and where they are headed.

'One' is a unique album. There are so many different influences at play here and the production work is absolutely superb. The songwriting and construction of each piece is amazing it's hard for me to find a criticism for any of it. If you haven't explored the djent or technical Metal scene, it can be a difficult and inaccessible genre to get in to, but TesseracT somehow have brought together an album which can ease you into it gradually.

By the end of the first listen through the whole album I defy you not to like it.

8.1.12


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bush BUSH ANNOUNCE OCTOBER 20th RELEASE FOR 'MAN ON THE RUN'
Multi-platinum alt-rock band Bush have announced an October 20th release date for their highly anticipated new album...

absolva ABSOLVA RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'LIVE FOR THE FIGHT'
The video features Luke Appleton (Iced Earth) who is playing bass for the band on the forthcoming European Tour...

giants of rock GIANTS OF ROCK FESTIVAL: FIRST BANDS ANNOUNCED
The reformed Family and pomp rockers Magnum will headline the event...

weapon uk ESTRELLA TO SUPPORT GILBY CLARKE ON TOUR AND ANNOUNCE A NEW SINGLE
The band are currently gearing up for a thirteen date trek with Clarke that includes dates in Wakefield, London and Edinburgh...

weapon uk WEAPON UK ANNOUNCE TOUR DATES FOR NOVEMBER
Weapon UK have tour dates confirmed in support of their critically acclaimed album 'Rising From The Ashes'...

amulet AMULET DEBUT ALBUM 'THE FIRST' RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER: FIRST TRACK NOW ONLINE
The album track 'Mark Of Evil' has just been uploaded to Soundcloud. Raise your fists and bang your heads on this one...

michael schenker MICHAEL SCHENKER'S GUITARS STOLEN FROM GERMAN RECORDING STUDIO
German police are examining evidence and the studio for fingerprints and DNA evidence to help catch the criminals...

jimi jamison JIMI JAMISON OF SURVIVOR PASSES AWAY AGED 63
Jimi Jamison, lead singer of Survivor, very sadly passed away on Sunday night...

distorted harmony DISTORTED HARMONY UNLEASH FOOTAGE FROM 'CHAIN REACTION LIVE!'
The Tel Aviv quintet are looking forward to bringing their show to Europe this November...

ensiferum ENSIFERUM TO BEGIN RECORDING SIXTH STUDIO ALBUM NEXT MONTH
"We are convinced that this will be a ground breaking album for us and the whole genre. Modesty? What's that?"...

les-fest wildfire LES-FEST WILDFIRE ANNOUNCES FURTHER ACTS FOR SUMMER 2015
Max Raptor, Anihilated and more join the stellar array of main stage bands...

mystery deeexpus THE HOUSE OF PROGRESSION & THE MERCH DESK PROUDLY PRESENT MYSTERY & DeeEXPUS LIVE
It's a night of Prog at The Borderline on Tuesday 9th September, one of three chances to see this unique pairing...

butcher babies BUTCHER BABIES ANNOUNCE DETAILS FOR UPCOMING 'UNCOVERED' EP
The breakthrough Metal act have chosen five of their favourite tracks to get a makeover...

avenged sevenfold AVENGED SEVENFOLD RELEASE NEVER BEFORE SEEN ORIGINAL VIDEO FOR 'UNHOLY CONFESSIONS'
Take a fresh look at the 2004 track taken from the essential 'Waking The Fallen: Resurrected'...

reckless ambition RECKLESS AMBITION AND DIRTY LIONS TO PLAY THE ROCK PATCH THIS SATURDAY
Anyone who hasn't seen Reckless Ambition, then you are in for a real treat...

meshuggah MESHUGGAH ANNOUNCE 25TH ANNIVERSARY SHOWS IN EUROPE
Celebrate 25 years of musical deviance on this tour which includes a date a London's Roundhouse...

mr big MR. BIG CHANGE RELEASE DATE FOR NEW ALBUM "...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL"
The original line-up are back with some of their most powerful material to date and their signature hard rock sound...

well eavy 'WELL 'EAVY - VOL. 1' COMPILATION TO BE RELEASED BY HANGMAN - AMULET'S OWN LABEL
Get down to the free entry release party in Camden on 29th August...

slipknot DEF LEPPARD TO PERFORM NFL PRE-GAME SHOW AT FIRST LONDON NFL GAME OF 2014
Joe Elliott: "I know what the atmosphere in the ground is like for 'our' football so I'm really looking forward to performing there before the NFL game..."

slipknot SLIPKNOT REVEAL NEW ALBUM AND TOUR INFORMATION
'.5: The Gray Chapter' will be released on October 21 followed by US dates with Korn...

hard rock hell HARD ROCK HELL 8 ANNOUNCES MORE ACTS
The Vintage Caravan, Blue Pills, Horisont, Spiders and Santa Cruz have been added to the line up for November...

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