TesseracT – Sonder
Discovering a band via Myspace (does anyone even remember those days?), waiting what seemed like ages for their debut album and then seeing them skyrocket onto the throne of modern prog/djent/tech metal in what seemed like seconds before you were able to catch them live at a small club is a weird thing indeed. But it happened to me with the british proggers from TesseracT, who are now at studio album number four already, enigmatically entitled “Sonder“. With three flawless, instant classics under their belt, expectations are quite high to say the very least, as it doesn’t get much better than “Altered State” (2013) and/or “Polaris” (2015) when it comes to atmospheric djent with sweet, enticing melodies on top, without any growls on the horizon darkening the pure auditory bliss. So let’s delve right into “Sonder” and see what the 5 brits under the lead of sound magician Acle Kahney and wonder voice Daniel Tompkins cooked up this time.
First track ‘Luminary’ was the second single and it throws a huge riff towards the listener without warning. The verses are carried by Amos Williams‘ signature bass sound and clean guitar atmospheres in the background, and the huge chorus is balancing on a very thin line, threatening to fall into the “pop trap”, luckily managing to stay on the rope like an equilibrist. And then there’s that huge riff from the beginning again, rounding out this very short and concise composition just in time before the three minute mark. Second track and third single ‘King’ clocks in at more than double the time compared to its predecessor and shocks immediately with the harshest vocals since the massive debut ‘One’ in 2011. But no, the death growl is not back, it sounds like a completely new screaming technique for me. It fits in perfectly with the mood and atmosphere of this monster of a song. Not only the longest song on “Sonder”, but arguably also the very best as far as I’m concerned, it encompasses everything TesseracT stands for. Simply quintessential.
The short, serene interlude ‘Orbit’ functions as a well needed break to catch some breath after the intense seven minutes of ‘King’, bringing to mind the Daniel Tompkins side-project White Moth Black Butterfly and the ‘Polaris’ remix-EP ‘Errai’. ‘Juno’ relies again on the proven formula of huge riff/rhythmic verse with Amos slapping away on that bass of his/huge chorus. While far from being a bad song, there is a pattern emerging and some TesseracT songs start to blur into another in my mind. Luckily, ‘Beneath My Skin’ surprises with a breathtaking build up and bone chilling backing vocals the way only Daniel Tompkins can do them. ‘Mirror Image’ shows TesseracT at their atmospheric best for the most part, proving that not everything in the metal world has to be bone crushingly heavy. A rare thing of sheer beauty and a hidden gem that might run the risk of being overlooked between all the massive riffing going on elsewhere on the album. Like on the first single ‘Smile’, that already came out more than half a year ago. But the album version sees the intensity increased and the return of the frantic screaming from ‘King’. A welcome adjustment. Already a staple in their energetic live shows and most certainly for years to come.
‘The Arrow’ sees us off into the night after a short, but for the most part intense ride. “Sonder” shows TesseracT at their most angry since years, yet it features some of their most ethereal moments ever. The angular riffs and grooves, the slick production, the Daniel Tompkins show on top of it. Everything seems even bigger than ever. So I am inclined to say: the next step in the natural evolution of the unstoppable force that is TesseracT is here. However, the short duration of under 40 minutes and some first signs of wearing out their formula in the middle of the album prevent me from giving the top score. But even with that slight criticism, TesseracT are still lightyears ahead of their peers.
- Beneath My Skin
- Mirror Image
- The Arrow