Tesseract - One - 4.5/5
Well for those still unfamiliar with this debut effort a long time in the making, perhaps its time you start paying attention. Not just one of the pivotal figures in popularising the 'djent' tone first started by 'Meshuggah' but to the entire mathcore genre as a whole, this is one album that had an awful lot to live up to, and despite the obvious pitfall of any album such a long time in the making, never feels disjointed, as though they'd merely made a patchwork quilt of the best bits they've written over the years. Quite the opposite in fact; this is as much a mathcore effort as it is a progressive rock piece; a marriage of 'Coheed and Cambria' or '3''s use of concept and atmosphere with the style of 'Periphery' or 'Textures,' flowing through each passage effortlessly as though one single entity, simply using the complex dissonance of mathcore to keep the listener on their toes.
The whole genre is occasionally rather offensively referred to as 'real musicians music,' the implication being that it's too complex for your average listener to make sense out of. It's certainly not one without its weight; the frenetic complexity of the instrumentation that often results from the use of polyrhythms, unusual time signatures and alternating tempo's is certainly not something every listener is going to be able to enjoy, needing just a little more sense of a repeatable pattern to make it all stick, but whilst all this requires technical proficiency, the composition itself can often suffer. In fact, given such constraints it's far more difficult to create a catchy and memorable piece, constantly twisting and turning but never failing to implant itself in your mind, yet this is precisely how this album operates. It never baffles you with a flurry of notes, or complexity that requires intense concentration to spot the pattern like some code breaker trying to find the message. Take any instrument on their own and its often not all that complicated.
Instead it has no qualms throwing something new into the works; each time a passage played containing some alteration, be it subtle such as an extra note or snare hit thrown between the usual beat, or as major as instruments not following the same beat pattern (a polyrhythm), just to shake things up and keep you guessing. The tempo never races off at an incomprehensible pace or in too dissonant manner, often sticking to the same basic structure. Its only real sense of complexity arises not from the individual lines but how everything pieces together; each of the four elements - drums, guitars, bass and vocals - complement each other, harmonising in such a way that they all retain a sense of individuality, heard throughout the entire album, yet always working in unison to create an elaborate layered atmosphere, and at the top of it all lies the vocals. Powerful and emotional, he drifts between softly sung lullabies, harrowing growls and everywhere in between at a moments notice; mid-range screams contrasting epic tenor lines and lending a sense of strength that few can match. They had seemingly impossibly high hopes laid before them and yet somehow they've managed to do one better.
Highlights: Concealing Fate: Deception, Eden
Over the years this has grown into my own personal project, reviewing the artists that I discover and interest me. If you wish to see more of my work, particularly my more metal-orientated material, you can find me as a regular contributor for the online magazine
Posted by T. Bawden Wednesday, 15 February 2012