Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Century Media
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Words. Blagh. This album is exceptional. That's all you really need to know. The beautifully composed second album from British djent-fathers TesseracT is unreal. The atmosphere, the sound, the songwriting (which is perhaps the best of metal’s young generation) sets ‘Altered State’ apart from ….
After an impressive debut, Tesseract return with Altered State, a sophomore effort that finds the band expanding its progressive metal sound in a bigger, more ambitious direction. Ditching the harsher vocals of their first album for a wholly melodic style, Tesseract take an important step out of the shadows of some of their forefathers, adding a new dimension to their sound thanks to the vocals of new singer Ashe O'Hara, whose soaring voice complements the band's impressively technical songwriting. Changes like these help the band to stand out in a sea of wildly talented acts, making Altered State a follow-up album that doesn't just live up to their debut, but blows it out of the water.
Usually, the bigger a prog band’s bag of tricks, the more impenetrable the music becomes. So how is it that TesseracT becomes more accessible even as its music grows increasingly ambitious? It’s tempting to credit new vocalist Ashe O’Hara, given that his densely layered vocals often define the music’s melody and mood, but he’s only part of the equation. TesseracT’s real strength is that they focus on the whole instead of getting bogged down with the intricacy of the parts, and that keeps their blend of heavy guitar, heavenly vocals, juddering rhythms, and dense harmony from seeming a sonic jumble.
UK-based progressive wizards and djent pioneers TesseracT have gone through a particularly challenging series of line-up changes over the course of their relatively short career. Formed in 2003 as a studio project by guitarist Acle Kahney, TesseracT established a full-line-up by 2007, and while most of that line-up has been static, they've gone through three vocalists during two full-lengths and two EPs (not counting the two vocalists that served before they recorded any material). After Daniel Tompkins established their sound on the Concealing Fate EP and One full-length, and Elliot Coleman filled the role on the Perspective EP, Altered State features yet another singer: Ashe O'Hara (Voices From The Fuselage), and this time the change feels not like a fill-in, but a return to form.