Tesseract literally leave me speechless. Not a lot of bands can do that. For a start, they have got much more life out of the genre of Djent than a lot of other bands managed. That is to be highly commended. Secondly, there is something new and different about each album they have released. They are on to their fourth now, and ‘Sonder’ is just as innovative as the previous three, apparently involving a Choir and recordings submitted by their fans.
The Milton Keynes five piece, comprising of founding member Acle Kahney (Guitar), James Monteith (Guitar), Amos Williams (Bass), Jay Postones (Drums) and Dan Tompkins (Vocals) have had their fair share of changes over their 15 year history, but this has predominantly centred around their vocalists, of which there has been 5. The line-up is now settled once again and they are powering on.
Debut album ‘One’ earned them rave reviews and a committed following. Second album ‘Altered State’ was a masterpiece; there is no other word for it. They managed the shift between vocalists that those two albums bought seamlessly and ‘Altered State’ is a genre defining album. It’s a dictionary definition of Djent. Third album ‘Polaris’ was potentially a banana skin as they welcomed Tompkins back in to the fold, but again, they delivered. So, it’s about time they had a bad one, right?
‘Sonder’ picks up where the band left off. Contrasting polyrhythms between musicians and vocalist. The game of ‘find the first beat of the bar’ endlessly continues and the chicken neck bobbing riffs are aplenty.
It begins with single ‘Luminary’ which showcases the scary talents of what I believe to be the two best features of Tesseract, Tompkins and Postones. Tompkins is in possession of an almost dreamy, pop star voice, but he has total control over it and his grasp of melody is frankly sublime. Postones is the driving force behind Tesseract, his drumming comparable to none in this style of Djent. Both are given chance to showcase their talents here, in a jarring and almost dissonant opener. A video can be found here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJKsmaGtrjo).
‘King’ is up next and this track is decidedly heavier than the first. One thing that changed when Tompkins departed Tesseract after ‘One’ was there were no longer any screamed parts. This change has now reverted back and there are traces of screaming littered throughout ‘King’ amidst heavier riffs and a more spaced out song. There are not many influences that can be attributed to Tesseract, such is their individuality, but there are moments here when they sound distinctly Karnivool.
‘Orbital’ is short but sweet. An instrumental, it links tracks 2 and 4 nicely as it bursts in to ‘Juno’ with its big single note hanging riffs giving way to what many would describe as vintage Tesseract. Amos Williams’ fabulous bass is very prominent within this song and there is a wonderful melody in the chorus’ as well from Tompkins. I imagine at some point there will be a video for this song, it has all the elements of being a single.
‘Beneath My Skin’ swings between big heavy passages and soothing slower rhythms and melodies, creating a feeling of wistfulness about the music. It’s like Tesseract are painting a canvas and they switch between elegant lines and just throwing paint at a board. To listen to them is to leave behind everything else in your life as you are absorbed into their world before being woken by a slamming low tuned guitar riff. When you strip back their music, the riffs from Kahney and Monteith sound so simple, but the weight they always carry cannot be denied.
‘Mirror Image’ is the ballad on ‘Sonder’ showcasing the bands ability to play straighter times when required and ‘Smile’ is by some distance the heaviest thing on offer here. At points Tompkins vocals sound pained, almost demented in their delivery. The contrast between the two is a highlight of this record as it shows that Tesseract are more than just 7 String guitar wielding merchants.
Closer ‘The Arrow’ is another short but sweet track displaying all the traits of classic Tesseract.
So, what now for the band? Well, they release ‘Sonder’ on April 20th and embark on a US tour with Plini and Astronoid in the Spring.
But what for their music?
Well that’s simple. They’re timeless. And as long as they’re around and being as inventive as they are on ‘Sonder’, Djent will continue to exist as well. Tesseract are your kings of the genre and ‘Sonder’ is another MUST HAVE for your collection.
Website – https://www.tesseractband.co.uk/
Facebook – www.facebook.com/tesseractband
Beneath My Skin