TesseracT
Altered State


3.5
great

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
May 22nd, 2013 | 727 replies


Release Date: 05/27/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A good atmospheric metal album begging for that one big leap into the full-blown progressive metal pool.

We've come to a point where I think I can just come out and say that "djent" is what's holding Tesseract back. That strange hybrid bastard of low groove and somewhat more progressive metalcore that once elevated Tesseract as a band of interest has gradually become little more than a weighty shackle on their legs.

To a point, you can track Tesseract's evolution from a "djent" band toward becoming a more progressive outfit just in their employ of vocalists. Abisola Obasanya displayed the sort of raw power and ferocity that early scene thrived off of while Dan Tompkins reeled things in and added more melody while reducing the impact of his harsh vocals. It wasn't apparent until the introduction of Elliot Coleman that Dan's reduced approach was a gradual weaning from the gritty side of Tesseract that Elliot quickly spun into a drastic shift in dynamic.

Fortunately, new vocalist Ashe O'Hara has dialed the sound back to a point that's further along in the weaning process, but still not as intensely dramatic a change as Elliot's high-flying approach. Lending a voice with a thoroughly atmospheric feel to the creative process surely has something to do with feeling the weight of the djent chain, though. While the strain is less apparent than it was during Elliot's brief tenure, Ashe's voice yearns for a more drawn-out backdrop less reliant on groove and more focused on accentuating his tone and delivery. It's clear from the get-go that the atmospheric sound of Altered State was more tailored towards his lush, high, melodic delivery, ghostly self-harmonizing, and moans, however, giving off the impression that the ethereal quality of the album is one the band as a whole is craving. A craving apparent not only from the deliberate choice in vocals, but in soundbites from the rest of the group, who seem to have a harder time making the adjustment.

The perpetual and exceptional groove of bassist Amos Williams notwithstanding, the instrumental section of Tesseract can seem as incestuous and repetitive as it can seem atmospheric and vibrant. Drums are conquered by guitars throughout the album and are never given a chance to shine. Guitars are conquered by themselves with often-tedious grooves overriding most lead lines which can be heard as a crackle at most when an explosion would provide a superior effect. The saving graces of the instrumental section on Altered State are found in the odd bits of audible, chime-like guitar leads, sensational bass work, and "out-of-norm" chiming in from keyboards, synthesizers, and a truly delightful sax line at the ends of "Of Reality - Calabi-Yau" and "Of Energy - Embers."

This isn't to say that that Altered State is anything short of a good to great release from a genre-confused band, though. In forming grooves and establishing atmospherics, Altered State is wildly successful - at least until those grooves run longer than anyone cares to hear, resembling more of a rambling infomercial than the quick wit and appeal of a well-directed television cut. O'Hara also provides an extraordinary performance that's diverse in approach and execution despite keeping to clean melodies, scrapping the band's previous inclusion of screams.

At the end of the day, Altered State is an enjoyable, even relaxing listen for all of its distortion and low-end power. It's cerebral enough in scope to keep the progressive fan interested through some of its more tedious moments, melodic enough to sing along to, groovy enough to keep heads banging, and atmospheric enough to chill out to. But, in a lot of ways, that's also the problem. This is an album that's "enough," but also one which very clearly wants to be more than just "enough."

Truth be told, while the vocal approach and (somewhat sparse) bells and whistles may have changed since 2008's Obasanya demo of "April Song," the sound as a whole really isn't all that different. In order for Tesseract to evolve into what they're aching to become, that'll have to change.



Recent reviews by this author
Thank You Scientist Maps of Non-Existent PlacesOpeth Pale Communion
Rx Bandits Gemini, Her MajestyChris Letchford Lightbox
Hoth OathbreakerMarty Friedman Inferno
user ratings (602)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


2004 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

In summary: yup, it's a Tesseract album.

Digging: Thank You Scientist - Maps of Non-Existent Places

sspedding
May 22nd 2013


4773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Of Matter blows my mind.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


4442 Comments


Will check out. I don't think I've heard this band before, or maybe I have, but I doubt it. This sounds like a really good album, I don't hate "djent" (though the name is dumb), but I don't listen to much of it either.

Good work, Thom.

TooLateToGoBack
May 22nd 2013


1775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Eclipse and Singularity are brilliant.

JS19
May 22nd 2013


4326 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

What a weird rating spread

Digging: Gates - Bloom and Breathe

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

There are a couple of good djent bands... and this isn't one of them.

"To a point, you can track Tesseract's evolution from a "djent" band toward becoming a true progressive metal outfit"

^what the hell does it mean? Djent is a subgenre of progressive metal.

Digging: Dope Body - Lifer

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


10273 Comments


I think the line makes sense. A band can move from a subgenre to the overall genre's feel, and I think Atomic's arguing that TesseracT's new style employs a lot of stylistic nuances that the overall genre of progressive metal contains. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Tom.)

"In forming grooves and establishing atmospherics, Altered State is wildly successful - at least until those grooves run longer than anyone cares to hear, resembling more of a rambling infomercial than the quick wit and appeal of a well-directed television cut."

I love this line, man!

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not really. I sort of know what Tom means, but the phrasing is not really good. What does 'true progressive metal' actually mean? He's implying that djent (I prefer the term technical metal) is untrue prog metal, which is confusing to say the least.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


10273 Comments


Is djent necessarily technical metal, though? I've always thought djent was wholly centered around the grooves and that particular guitar tone, whereas technical metal could fall under quite a few categories.

And I think by 'true,' he meant something like full-fledged. I only say this because I've used the word in the same way. But you may be right, and it probably could be phrased more accurately.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You're wrong. Djent is basically a new silly name for technical metal or math metal. The name was sardonically coined by Meshuggah guitarist Mårten Hagström and refers to one of his riffs from the 90s.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


10273 Comments


Regardless of the term's origins, 'djent' is used widely to describe groove-oriented metal that utilizes a distinctive guitar tone. So I don't see why we would discredit the term because of its meaning. We use indie rock, although its original meaning has been lost... Why would djent be any different? Or am I misunderstanding you, Greg?

I do also think there's a certifiable difference between djent and the genres you mentioned. Sure, much of what's considered djent today may fall into those categories as well, but not necessarily. I mean, if djent was also technical metal and math metal then Dillinger Escape Plan would be considered djent-- yet they don't use that fat guitar tone, etc. etc.

In other news, my autocorrect is shouting "Jacob! Djent isn't a word, ya goof!" through distinctive red underlining.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ah... except DEP play mathcore. I wouldn't call them technical metal or anything like that. I guess I'm not gonna convince you. The fact stands that sentence isn't accurate at all.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


10273 Comments


I still fail to see how the sentence is inaccurate-- and I've been trying to figure it out, but it just seems like you prefer telling me I'm wrong!!

You even said you kind of understand what the sentence means, so at this point it seems like you just don't like the phrase he used.. Which is very different from the sentence being completely inaccurate

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I understand the general idea, but 'true' is totally misused. I'd probably replace it with 'traditional' or give some point of reference like Dream Theater or sth (mind you I didn't listen to this album).

As for 'djent': I was listening to music with my friend not so long ago and our conversation went like that:
My friend: Wow. Is this a new djent band?
I: Nah man. This record came out in 1995.

So, go figure...

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


10273 Comments


Yeah, I can agree with you that a better word could be used. And djent is definitely one of those taglines in metal currently-- it's misused a lot, but also is used accurately to describe the sound a lot of groups are going for, whether it be Periphery, Tesseract, Sithu Aye, Meshuggah.

And I kind of hate that the term has such a negative connotation these days, although it completely makes sense. Because the subgenre has become oversaturated with generic nonsense *insert rambling old man voice here, as he talks about the "good 'ol days"*

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You're right, but my point with 'djent' is that this term started to be used a couple of years ago, only to re-label the music that has its origin in 90s... and was called technical metal back then. So the term 'djent' is totally redundant.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


10273 Comments


Djent may have had its origin back in the 90s, but does that mean today's djent isn't a different beast, at least in some regards? A genre or subgenre can have distinctive origins without being exactly what it was in the beginning-- like how black metal, death metal, etc. came from the "heavy metal" or "metal" descriptor, whichever one you'd prefer.

I do see your point, but I also think there are a few distinguishing factors in the 'djent' music of today from its predecessors

DinosaurJones
May 22nd 2013


491 Comments


isn't it "weaning" and not "weening?"

FearThyEvil
May 22nd 2013


12622 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is getting reviewed so much

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


2004 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

isn't it "weaning" and not "weening?"

You are correct. That's what I get for writing late at night.

I think "true progressive metal" makes sense. When I say "progressive metal" your mind is going to jump to Dream Theater and Opeth more than it's going to jump to Periphery, which is the point. The statement I was trying to make was more that they're inching towards a progressive sound rather than doing things by the djent quagmire standard, but I don't know. I'll look it over when I have some more time tonight.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy