So what happens to a band when their singer leaves? Break up? Carry on with a new singer? Side projects?
What happens when the singer that left happens to be one of the finest metal vocalists of the last ten years?
Ask TesseracT. After the success of their phenomenal debut album 'One' and the subsequent tours, Daniel Tompkins left the band in the summer of 2011, citing personal reasons for the departure. The reviews of TesseracT, both on the record and live, all pointed out what a spectacular vocalist Tompkins is, from his clean singing, to his yelling and covering his the extensive range of notes he is capable of.
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So how on earth do you fill a hole in the band like that?
Well, in the case of TesseracT, you get someone just as good, if not better. Enter, Elliot Coleman to the fray and his first recording with the band, the 'Perspective' EP.
'Perspective' is the perfect title for the EP as rather than new tracks, the band have reworked a handful of songs from 'One' with Elliot and thrown in a cover for good measure. The concept for the EP was inspired by an acoustic session the band did on tour in America and showcases an entirely different side to the band.
For those who don't know, TesseracT are one of the main players in the djent scene at the minute. In fact, guitarist/producer Acle Kahney is considered one of the fathers of the genre having played in the genre defining band Fellsilent alongside John Browne of Monuments. 'Perspective' shows a different, well, perspective on some of the more popular songs from their debut album.
What is immediately noticeable is that while the instrumentation has changed, the songs haven't lost any of their power. This is down, in no small part. to Coleman's phenomenal performance. His vocals, be they solo or multilayered are smooth and melodic, easily matching every single facet that Tompkins laid down on the full album.
What's impressed me the most though, is how different a voice Coleman has to Tompkins, yet how well his voice works with the material he is presented. The EP's opening track 'Perfection', has an entirely different feel with Coleman. Where the original version, Tompkins sounded angry, Coleman sounds pained, almost heartbroken.
'April' is the standout of the acoustic tracks for me, Coleman really gets into his stride here and gets to show just high a note he can hit (read: very high). It's also where Kahney and James Monteith get to show off and crack out the prog-tastc riffs, which is no mean feat on an acoustic guitar. Even Amos Williams gets to slap away on the bass, as an almost constant reminder of the djent origins of the track.
I should clarify, this isn't an entirely acoustic album. It's acoustic in the same sense that Zakk Wylde's 'Book Of Shadows' was considered an acoustic album, it's more chilled out but there are electric guitars, some ambient synth pads and the overall arrangements haven't been changed that much. It's still a Metal album, just without a huge wash of distortion.
'Origin' is the closest of the three acoustic tracks to the original arrangement. The ambient background guitars have been swapped for piano, the chunky riffing exchanged for fuller chords and plenty of ghostly reverb added for ethereal effect. When things get very staccato in the middle section, you do get an indication of the limitations of the acoustic guitar for this kind of music.
The sharp, single note stabs on the low string are noisy and a bit rattly. It's not a production or a performance issue, it is literally the nature of the instrument, which is a shame because everything is so smooth before and after it.
Going back to Coleman, the last two tracks on the EP really show us what he can do. In what I thought was an odd choice, the band have covered Jeff Buckley's 'Dream Brother'. I wasn't sure if they could pull it off because, and let's be frank here, I've never heard anyone pull off Jeff Buckley's vocals. Well, Coleman has. Perfectly.
I'm not kidding, Coleman nails this cover. He moves between the notes like Buckley, smoothly, gently, impassioned and (most importantly), with absolute flawless perfection. Especially the chorus, which has to rank up there with one of the hardest run of notes a vocalist could ever hope to achieve, it's a stunning piece to show off the band's new singer.
Closing the EP is 'Eden 2.0'. This has been doing the rounds for a little while now, the band actually commissioned a video for it at the beginning of the year. It was the first recording of Coleman singing with the band to hit the publics ears and it's had largely positive responses.
It's the only fully electric track and essentially, it's the nuts and bolts of the full nine minute long version from 'One', without the built up intro and outro. It's also what I would say as the most demanding song (vocally) from the album. Long, drawn out notes, huge jumps in pitch and a particularly high scream a couple of times throughout, plus having to contend with an 8/4 time signature and Jay Postones' complex drumming. What can I say, it's just phenomenal. It's epic, emotional and absolutely enormous.
I honestly can't flaw this EP. I genuinely think it's a brilliant collection of music and a superb indicator of where the band are going to move to with their new lineup. TesseracT have a very bright future ahead, a very bright future indeed.
4. Dream Brother
5. Eden 2.0