Top positive review
15 people found this helpful
on 22 March 2011
Easily one of the most exciting `djent' bands to emerge on the UK scene, TesseracT sit comfortably between tech-metal overlords Meshuggah (instrumentally) and more easy-listening hardcore fare like Coheed and Cambria (vocally). 2010's taster EP, `Concealing Fate', was a thrilling experience, showcasing a group that could create complex musical ideas coupled with an organic and emotional sound (one that is rare to hear from bands like this) within one glorious 25-plus minute song.
High hopes, then, for debut album `One'. Although it is essentially just `Concealing Fate' with 5 tracks sandwiched on either side of it, the new songs do well to carry on the spirit of the aforementioned EP while maybe not hitting the EXACT same giddy heights in terms of quality. Now it should definitely be pointed out that this is not the bands fault, but part of the problem is that, although Concealing Fate very much felt like one song in 6 parts, it is very strange to hear TesseracT write such succinct compositions (closer `Eden' aside). Openers `Lament' and `Nascent' hit hard but feel too short; JUST as they start to get going, both songs end with what feels like a whimper. As I said, this was my initial reaction to both of these compositions and I've warmed to them both a great deal, but it certainly does feel strange. On the other side of the EP tracks, `Sunrise' is probably the most aggressive thing on the album and `April' is the only song that really has any `ballad' inspiration on here (the verses are pure pop emoting). Album closer `Eden', the albums other real highlight, starts off rather seductively before descending into organised chaos that unfolds over 9 minutes.
It's no surprise, then, that the real meat of the album is embedded over the 6 tracks that make up `Concealing Fate'. As a whole, these songs remain an immensely entertaining listen that is not challenging in the same way that Meshuggah or Sikth are (I absolutely mean this as a compliment). It takes absolutely no effort at all for these songs to get buried under your skin; they are immediate and accessible, with no desire to alienate. This is, of course, a review of the whole album (not just these six tracks), and the other songs do threaten to approach the EP tracks in terms of quality, but `Concealing Fate' really is the best thing on the album. However, as mentioned before, the spirit and intent of these EP compositions linger over the whole disc; `One', as a whole, is immediately likeable, yet repeated listens are also rewarding. This is mostly down to the phenomenal performances by the players themselves and the fantastic production. Guitars sound warm without over-the-top distortion, the bass is quite prominent and independent in the mix and the drums feel very real and organic, not to mention vocalist Daniel Tompkins who deserves multiple plaudits for his emotional performance. Too often clean vocals can sound ridiculous over music like this but Dan's tone, harmonies and charisma make it seem very natural.
A couple of gripes: even though the rest of the tracks on `One' are independent works, too often much of the music feels like it should be part of a larger single work as there is not much variation in the sombre mood that permeates the whole piece. There are also too many moments where individually plucked rising guitar notes serve as a mood setter before delving into Meshuggah-style off-tempo riffage. Used sparingly, this technique is thrilling, but TesseracT seem to open most of their songs this way. Finally, the vocals are very much an instrument unto themselves. Don't expect too many hummable choruses and pop-hooks; they are used mostly for colour and texture, something which I love but can imagine will grate on some listeners.
Yet these really are small complaints. Overall, this is a genuinely exciting release and I wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of Animals as Leaders, Meshuggah or Periphery (though I suspect you`ll already be aware of TesseracT). To non-fans, though, this could be the perfect introduction to the `djent' scene; `One' is immediately enjoyable while retaining the more complex elements of the usually alienating tech-metal style. It is easily enjoyable on the first spin and will retain this bite over multiple plays. TesseracT have crafted a warm, endearing, intimate record in sound that just happens to be epic in scope. They are, to sum up, hugely admirable. I thoroughly enjoy this debut and look forward to their next step.