Review Summary: Wait, what song am I on?
Begin by listening to this while reading: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfFu_weHj70
This was TesseracT as they began making a name for themselves back in 2007; playing a variety of shows in the underground UK metal scene and receiving acclaim from fans and local bands in leaps and bounds. Led by singer Abisola Obasanya and displaying a raw, hard and grimey downtuned sound; this acclaim steadily rose until they began making a big name for themselves.
And rightfully so.
Tesseract is loaded with musicians who are all very technically talented and proficient at playing their instruments. Acle, the mastermind and creater of the band, Amos, Jamie, and James are extremely talented musicians who hit every note of each song with calculated accuracy. Dan's vocals on the other hand, although good, are somewhat lacking in this effeciency. He has some nice cleans; however his deep...parts (I don't even know what to call them) are basically just there. It's as if the band's entire new sound has been fuelled by the introduction of this new vocalist, and not the other way around. With Abisola, he projected a much harsher, more dismal and maniacal sound to the music while still maintaining an excellent clean voice when it was needed in it's respective parts. It was often brought to the back of the mix, though still heard nicely, instead of the forefront and this worked very well. With the introduction of Hopkins, Tesseract's vocals have followed the likeness of Periphery, hampering the heaviness and overall quality of the music. The only exception is shown on the track "Eden", where some of Tompkin's heavier sections sound good and are not aided by Amos.
Vocals aside, it's the production that has really taken this band and turned them completely upside down. Their earlier work and demo material showed a group that was going along the route of fellow countrymen Sikth in being very hard hitting. It sounded like they were going to be...more metal. The production of "One" takes a 360 to this earlier motif and has made everything very watered down. All of the heaviest hitting sections of past releases (what they've been tempting the fans with all these years) are now hollowed out versions of their former selves. They no longer show the personality and subtle craziness they once were but play the safe card and sound a little generic. It seems like the bass drum has been lowered and the atmospheric soundscapes have increased. This added ambience has drowned out the heaviness and density of Tesseract's sound and left it stripped down and withered. While adding atmosphere is never a bad thing, a band dipping it's foot in one sound and releasing a different one just doesn't sit right.
Tesseract incorporates the already released (a couple months prior) EP, "Concealing Fate", into "One" and throws in 5 more songs. Most of these songs have been out for a while now, with the exception of "Eden", and mostly sound identical to eachother unless you've been following the band for a while and know their material. They don't seem to have that same oomph factor which was demonstrated earlier. On top of it all the bass throws in a popping, scratchy sound sporadically, which can be more distracting and annoying than anything. The songwriting and structures are all excellent however. Tesseract are fully capable of creating a piece of music and making it flow nicely, mixing in some great progressive sections with the heavier ones. Unfortunately, to reiterate, this has all been on full display for almost 3 years now. It's as if the songs they released in the past could've been converted and burnt to a cd 2 years ago and would still surpass this debut.
Back in 2008, "One" was being heralded as the next major album to enter the metal scene; however a slow album release coupled with an overall change in sound has left Tesseract with a medicore debut album. Though "One" displays a band which is musically competent and very talented; it's production results in a mish mash of watered down soft and heavy songs/sections which get lost in eachother, and thus to the listener. Unfortunately people change and situations occur where members of bands have to leave for personal reasons. With the departure of Obasanya, so too was the departure of a grand Tesseract sound. "One" comes off as an overly produced debut which demonstrates a band forfeiting raw energy and intrigue for another run of the mill "djent" affair.