TesseracT
Altered State


3.0
good

Review

by SitarHero USER (33 Reviews)
May 19th, 2013 | 42 replies | 2,316 views


Release Date: 05/27/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Underwhelming.

9 of 12 thought this review was well written

While TesseracT is widely credited as one of the progenitors of the modern Djent movement, they have followed their own singular artistic vision, often to the derision and confusion of the rest of the scene. Over the course of their career the band has developed their own largely unique (which is saying something in Djent) sound, moving away from Meshuggah-aping Death Metal aggression toward a much more ambient, melodic and progressive sound that’s quite far removed from the majority of their “core”-suffixed peers.

Through their evolution, TesseracT has shed vocalists like a shark sheds teeth, and the current iteration of the band features Ashe O’Hara on lead vocals. O’Hara’s vocals mark the culmination of the band’s sonic evolution; from the harshness of original vocalist Abisola Obisanya, through the debut LP that featured the largely “pretty” voice of fan-favourite Dan Tompkins and the reduced role of harsh vocals, to the current album featuring the complete absence of harsh vocals and the exclusively soaring light tenor of O’Hara who occasionally sounds like a dead ringer for Tompkins. Word has it that O’Hara is competent when it comes to harsh vocals while pulling off older TesseracT material in a live setting, but his keening boyish singing voice is featured here by the band and the vocals are high and clear in the mix, often bolstered by overlaid harmonies.

Underpinning O’Hara’s soaring voice is what has come to be TesseracT’s modus operandi; ambient passages chopped up by polyrhythmic djent sections. The band rarely, if ever, displays any conventional virtuosity. There are no jaw-dropping guitar solos or drum fills or any of the other trappings of progressive metal wankery. However, the band plays impressively as an ensemble, combining challenging rhythmic parts to create a dense groove that takes several listens to completely unravel. A fine example of this is found on Palingenesis which teeters on the edge of rhythmic chaos without stepping over.

The strengths of the band are also, ironically, its weaknesses. Album opener Proxy quickly establishes the template for the band, opening with spacy reverb and delay drenched notes on a guitar before the polyrhythmic chugs come tumbling in. However, the whole affair quickly devolves into repetition. Simply put, there is just not enough variety in the band’s sound and very few songs really stand out from the pack. The prime examples of standout tracks are Exiled which is, not surprisingly, one of the harder rocking songs on the album, and album closer Embers. Exiled offers one of the few moments on the album where the instrumental parts actually differ significantly enough from the instrumental parts on the other songs to sound different and be memorable. Embers is made special by it’s saxophone solo that is odd and awesome in just the right amounts. A ripping saxophone solo also make an appearance on Calabi-Yau. The fact that the band experiments more towards the end of the album makes for the unusual situation where the second half of the album is actually stronger than the first half.

The almost faceless grooving of the band is exacerbated by O’Hara’s singing, which somehow manages to be melodic without any actual melodies. For the most part of the album his vocal contributions are just there, sitting atop the mix without adding anything significant to the songs. There is an almost complete lack of memorable hooks, just ‘emotive’ singing that fails to hold the listener’s attention and is quickly relegated to the back of the mind. A large part of the criticism faced by the band has dealt with O’Hara’s voice, which isn’t to everyone’s taste. However, while O’Hara’s voice is a unique quality that separates TesseracT from its peers, he fails to sing anything remotely memorable and ultimately this contributes greatly to the homogeneity of the album.

Altered State will no doubt please a lot of fans of the band who get off on the ambient grooves of the band. However, the majority of fans of the band, and of progressive metal in general, will find themselves underwhelmed by the album. TesseracT has refined its sound to an almost undesirable degree, and while some will see genius in Altered State most will see a band that needs to shake up its formula in order to stay relevant.



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user ratings (567)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SitarHero
May 19th 2013



4605 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Damn, a negative review for a popular band. I just know I'm gonna get negged for this. Goodbye 100% Approval rating...

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2013



6941 Comments


and i still don't know whether i like this album,

SitarHero
May 19th 2013



4605 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

And therein lies the problem. The album is pleasant white-noise.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2013



6941 Comments


there's parts that are okay, other parts that are great and there's even ample amount of sucki

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2013



6941 Comments


nice read, pos;d by the way!

SitarHero
May 19th 2013



4605 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I didn't think anything particularly sucked on the album. To me it was mostly "Not bad" with a little bit of "Cool!"

Edit: Thanks for the pos.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2013



6941 Comments


im glad they went with the mind, matter, energy thing

Dodecahedron
May 19th 2013



970 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The album is way too monotonous for me, I get tired of the vocals very quickly too.

SitarHero
May 19th 2013



4605 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I agree. Like Ipod said, there are great moments, but they're kind of lost in a desert of sameyness.

NeoSpaz
May 19th 2013



4517 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

album is alright. woudn't really be entitled to come back to it, but the good moments justify a 3

tempest--
May 19th 2013



12643 Comments


Intro paragraph is really good, but there are a few awkward moments here and there, namely,

"a large part of the criticism faced by the band has dealt with O’Hara’s voice, which isn’t to everyone’s taste. However, while O’Hara’s voice is a unique quality that separates TesseracT from its peers..."

Have a pos though.

LunaticSoul
May 19th 2013



154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"The band rarely, if ever, displays any conventional virtuosity. There are no jaw-dropping guitar solos or drum fills or any of the other trappings of progressive metal wankery."

What?

"The fact that the band experiments more towards the end of the album makes for the unusual situation where the second half of the album is actually stronger than the first half."

Really?

"The almost faceless grooving of the band is exacerbated by O’Hara’s singing, which somehow manages to be melodic without any actual melodies."

What? (2)

"he fails to sing anything remotely memorable and ultimately this contributes greatly to the homogeneity of the album."

Opinable, Exile's bridge, Nocturne and Singularity are far from "anything memorable" vocally-wise

"However, the majority of fans of the band, and of progressive metal in general, will find themselves underwhelmed by the album."

I am a fan of progressive metal "in general" and I feel underwhelmed by all the "no harsh vocals meh/booooring" criticisms more than anything else. Because I don't understand them.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2013



6941 Comments


Instead of asking these ridiculous questions, maybe you should pick up a dictionary.

LunaticSoul
May 19th 2013



154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

It's much more a question of meaning rather than of vocabulary. But thanks for the kind suggestion

tempest--
May 19th 2013



12643 Comments


People are allowed to have opinions that differ yours, you know?

LunaticSoul
May 19th 2013



154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I am just politely asking for explanation.

tempest--
May 19th 2013



12643 Comments


"The band rarely, if ever, displays any conventional virtuosity. There are no jaw-dropping guitar solos or drum fills or any of the other trappings of progressive metal wankery."

Makes sense to me.
"The almost faceless grooving of the band is exacerbated by O’Hara’s singing, which somehow manages to be melodic without any actual melodies."

I can see how this may seem a bit ambiguous, but I understand what he's saying exactly.
"he fails to sing anything remotely memorable and ultimately this contributes greatly to the homogeneity of the album."

Opinions.
"However, the majority of fans of the band, and of progressive metal in general, will find themselves underwhelmed by the album."

A bit of a generalisation/hyperbole but it's fine for a review, because again, opinions.

xist
May 19th 2013



171 Comments


After reading this I wonder what you'd think of Means End's album The Didact...

Good review though...negs without justification are unwarranted.

SitarHero
May 19th 2013



4605 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@LunaticSoul

Each of those statements you picked up on are explained in the sentences immediately following them. I'm not sure what exactly your 'questions' pertain to.

As for your deconstruction of my criticism of O'Hara's singing, let's get one thing straight. I MUCH prefer clean singing to harsh whatevers. I'm not criticizing his voice, I'm criticizing the fact that he does nothing (IMO, obviously) interesting with it. You might have a melody from one of the songs stuck in your head, but nothing he has done here is remembered 5 minutes after I listen to it, with the possible exception of parts of Nocturne but I've been listening to that for months. O'Hara has a sweet and melodic voice, but he (IMO, again) doesn't write any good melodies here and that's a major part of the problem with the album.

Perhaps I hadn't made that point sufficiently clear.

climactic
May 19th 2013



18342 Comments


good review. completely agreed. pos'd

i really want to like this, as the sound on display is pretty cool and unique, but its just so damn boring



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