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Album Review: TBA

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Album Review: TesseracT - One

This is an album that has been eight long years in the making. Right from that fateful day in 2003 when guitarist Acle Kahney began penning lyrics, for what was then a solo project, right up to the day that the fully-formed TesseracT handed over this hallowed piece of polycarbonate plastic, they have been building to this moment. It's been a long process of road-testing and fine-tuning their material through a multitude of live performances and recorded previews. Needless to say, along the way they have accrued a mighty fanbase, not forgetting a recent Golden Gods nomination, so that now there are many who will hail this album as the moment when the validity of a new music scene was finally accepted by all.

Djent - that odd-sounding word just keeps popping up. I suppose it's the kind of word you can really chew on. Although you could just as easily describe TesseracT as being math or tech metal, for some reason this more-refined description seems to fit them better. The onomatopoeic 'djent', originates of course from the sound of a heavily-distorted, palm-muted guitar strike and it is all over this album. You'll no doubt catch the influences they've picked up from their tours with Meshuggah and The Devin Townsend Project, but that's not to say that those high-gain, polyrhythmic cuffs dominate here like they do on so many of those particular bands' tracks. No, here it is used more as a lead-through to the more evocative side of TesseracT where they flood you with unerringly epic vocal (that, initially, sounds like it would be more at home fronting an alt-rock band), expansive melodics and wildly progressive key changes. These are moments that are more likely to make you feel like you're in an alien environment - similar to that ethereal music created by bands like No Made Sense, Mastodon or Isis.

The overlapping vocals that float in layers above the chiming guitars and funk-fuelled bass of 'April', the emotion-soaked verses of 'Sunrise' (the antithesis of the underscored hammering strings) and the skyscraping vocal that runs through 'Lament' before acquiescing to the shuddering pulse - these are the moments where we will wallow, allowing our minds to wander. The spatial polyrhythmic blasting of 'Deception', the hopelessly cantankerous 'Epiphany', Dan Tompkins' mesmerising vocal performance over the soaring melodics of "Eden" - these are going to be the rare moments when we focus and throw shapes.

If it is true of 'One' that we have already gorged ourselves on it's heart (The six tracks that comprise the 'Concealing Fate' saga were released last year), leaving us just five new tracks to mull over, then it is also true that hearing what surrounds the centre is like suddenly seeing the whole picture. Listen to that early release now and it will feel somewhat incomplete. So although this is essential listening, before you leap, consider this. It may be a generalisation, but the levels of production clarity on show can easily divide the potential listener into one of two factions. The tech-heads amongst you will get goosebumps, whilst the remainder will bemoan the absence of raw edge; the inorganic, procedural feel of the delivery. I'm afraid, on a personal level, this kind of pinpoint accuracy does make me a little nervous. It's the same feeling I get when I visit a hospital - metal-fronted lifts set into white walls and high heels click-clacking on spotless lino - impulsively, I want to scratch up the floors and throw mud at the machines. So while I'm on board to a point, I'm going to be a lot more likely to dig out the filthy majesty of Chimp Spanner or Of Legends to get my djent fix in the future. Consider yourself warned.

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