TesseracT – Polaris (eOne Music)Sunday, 30th August 2015
Think back to pinnacle moments in a band’s discography and often you will notice a running theme of timeless achievement on the third go around. The Number of the Beast, Master of Puppets, Reign in Blood, and Into the Pandemonium are benchmarks in pushing creativity and boundaries while setting standards for those respective groups (look them up if need be). British progressive metal band TesseracT as leaders in the modern scene combine polyrhythmic riffs, odd time signatures, and atmospheric layers that show djent tendencies in a melodic, ambient manner. Featuring singer Daniel Tompkins first studio appearance since his live return, Polaris could be that ‘album three’ standard that peers look at in reverence, as this is not your parents’ version of long-winded progressive rock/metal.
The quintet incorporate tranquil atmospheric parts at various times to build character and emotion for the next passage – bassist Amos Williams providing the riff/groove foundation for which guitarists Alec Kahney and James Monteith thrust and volley betwixt and between. Check out the somber “Survival” or repetitive, echoing thread throughout the more galactic follow up “Tourniquet” that encompass divergent, free-thinking ideas while never forgetting to keep the arrangements cohesive and in a proper channel for continuity. Drummer Jay Postones juggles the duality of weird time signatures and solid metal grooves more than admirably, picking his spots for technically sound fills/double bass for “Dystopia” while laying back in the pocket for the relatively commercial “Phoenix”.
The band’s choice for sticking to a mostly ‘clean only’ vocal approach is fine by me (although there are some closing savage screams in “Cages”) – there’s enough that Daniel can do in terms of pushing rhythmic parameters or lower to higher melodies that TesseracT should be able to survive just fine. “Hexes” features a guest supplementary vocal appearance from UK alternative rocker Martin Grech, exploring late 80’s/early 90’s terrain of The Cure or Jeff Buckley against its throbbing, pulsating classic rock foundation. Add in the 3-D oriented shapes and colors for the cover, and you quickly see and hear that the multi-layered progressive genre has nothing to fear about future headliners as long as TesseracT feel the need to explore, refine, and share their passion with the world.
Fortune favors the brave and bold – Polaris strides valiantly as the modern example of progressive metal’s far reaching appeal.