For Fans Of
Can you be understated and unassuming yet still considered a musical colossus at the same time? UK prog metallers TesseracT come across as a collective of gentle and driven personalities, with a sound – although not designed for commercial play – that is masterful, grand and in this case incredibly purposeful. It is a very, very simple statement: sophomore album ‘Altered State’ is brilliant.
Considering the sub-plot and interrupted preparation surrounding this release, the continuity and style of well-received debut ‘One’ could’ve easily been undone by full-length two. Thankfully, any concerns are quickly alleviated.
With a revolving door of vocalists, one could be forgiven for thinking TesseracT have walked under a few ladders or taken the Spinal Tap member ethos too literally. Fortunately, new singer Ashe O’Hara slots in with effective ease. ‘Altered State’ is very much a melodic offering. There are no harsh vocals, just sublime and cascading tones.
The polyrhythms and odd-time signatures are there, but it isn’t about being technical for the sake of being technical. The groove and rhythm maintains a pulse that’s easy to comprehend.
It’s a neat juxtaposition in the opening. O’Hara’s notes greet the listener with tender impact before a very Periphery/Animals As Leaders instrumental passage kicks in. It’s catchy, it’s proggy, it’s accessible. Broken into four parts (1. Of Matter, 2. Of Mind, 3. Of Reality, 4. Of Energy), ‘Altered State’ does have the familiar style of its predecessor. However, the release stands in isolation too. In a manner of speaking, the short turnover between albums this time around has helped – keeping the ideas fresh and at the forefront.
While, the three opening tracks (i. Proxy ii. Retrospect iii. Resist) are perfectly crafted, it’s ‘Nocturne’ where we get the perfect insight. The track, which essentially sealed the deal for O’Hara, is flowing, at times heavy, at times tranquil, but still catchy and dense.
Just when things could get stale in the tail end, the band introduces a saxophone passage in ‘Calabi-Yau’. Sublime. Every song seems to have a beautiful and pure musical construct to it.
‘Altered State’ is a welcome listen that suits many moods. Sometimes this style can be overwhelming and useful only when given selective listens. Not here though – this is music for any occasion. ‘Altered State’ is everything you hoped for and perhaps, even a little more.
Ambitious across the board, TesseracT have crafted something special with ‘Altered State’. Big calls have become almost sensationalist and attention grabbing, but here the praise is incredibly sincere and deserved. Impressions left after listening to the album will do more than any positive words written in this case will ever hope to achieve.
1. Of Matter
2. Of Mind
3. Of Reality
4. Of Energy