TesseracT – Between The Buried And Me – Plini: Live at O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

Djent never really took off as the next big thing, but it did spawn a few world-class bands that are probably more happy simply living under the Progressive Metal banner. And tonight London’s Shepherds Bush Empire hosts two of the scenes leading lights, Between the Buried and Me and TesseracT.

The queue to get into the Empire is snaking down the street long before the doors are open, meanings it’s nearly a full-house for Plini. A one-man band from Australia, Plini the man has gathered a troupe including TesseracT’s drum tech to open proceedings on the tour. This is pure guitar-nerd music; all instrumental songs, long and complicated passages that touch on everything from metal to jazz to more dreamy atmospheric passages. There’s not much in the way of proper songs, and the most entertainment on stage is when one of the roadies comes on stage to feed the band a banana. Despite this, and the fact the band rarely move from their spots on stage, the crowd give a very warm reception.

US progsters Between the Buried and Me are at least a little more animated. The band move and Tommy Giles Rogers knows how to engage with a crowd, even if his vocals are lost in the mix at times. Their brand of twisting and turning pomp-prog and crunching Metal stirs the senses more than Plini, and generate a bit more of a physical reaction from the crowd. The set is largely drawn from the bands newer material – this year’s Automata double effort (Sumerian) and 2015’s ComaEcliptic (Metal Blade) – meaning lots of long songs, widdling away, and prog rock quirks. It’s not until ‘Sun of Nothing’ that there’s a sustained period of heavy and direct music, and it’s this moment that wakes the crowd up the most. BTBAM set closes out with the jazzy ‘Voice of Trespass’, which sounds like a cross between Devin Townsend’s ‘Vampolka’ and Nekrogoblikon’s general insanity.

But it is TesseracT who really set the stage alight. While the crowd has been incredibly receptive up until now, there’s no questioning who most have come to see. From the opening notes of ‘Luminary’ the room explodes and properly gets moving for the first time tonight.

Despite this year’s Sonder (Kscope) probably being TesseracT’s strongest effort since their debut, the setlist isn’t skewed towards new material. A fair number of songs from every album, including some of the best stuff from the Ashe O’Hara-fronted Altered State (Century Media), are given some airtime. All are given a rapturous reception, so it’s little surprise that the band’s early Concealing Fate (Century Media) material – ‘Deception’, ‘The Impossible’, and ‘Acceptance’ – gets the biggest reaction from the crowd, who collectively shake the room when the meaty djent riffs kick in.

Frontman Dan Tompkins still dances like a Transformer auditioning for BABYMETAL on occasion, but it’s hard to fault his incredible vocals, enthusiasm, or the regular dives into the crowd. Bassist Amos Williams doesn’t dive in, but he patrols the stage and looks like he feels every note. The crowd gives a rapturous welcome to every song and give one of the country’s best bands the appreciation they deserve on a triumphant night.

DAN SWINHOE