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.Continue reading
The history of TesseracT is very disjointed and confusing in places, both sonically and in terms of personnel. With a continuous base of founder and guitarist Acle Kahney alongside Jay Postones, James Monteith and Amos Williams, the vocalist has changed more than Doctor Who, now with Daniel Tompkins returning after his initial stint on the band’s first full length One. Since his first tenure the band’s sound has changed from the, at the time cutting edge djent metal sound, to one that focused towards a more expansive arena while diminishing their metallic influences on follow up Altered State (both Century Media). Now with Polaris (Kscope/eOne) they are venturing even further down the rabbit hole.
The albums opening song will prove the most familiar and easing track for those who crave a return to the crunchy metal of One, with a prominent, chugging bassline throughout, it shows signs of an underlying trait of their sound that has been there since day one, but less so through a Meshuggah lens. Instead Polaris shows an increasingly mellow and even ambient sound with a dreamlike atmosphere, punctuated by increased tempo and thundering basslines, a prime example being the ever building ‘Hexes’.
Of course, many ears will be on what Tompkins brings to the table again, and even with him still firmly on the radar during his TesseracT absence with a host of other projects, his evolution since then is staggering. Completely void of the harsh vocals that powered One, Tompkins clean vocals soar to new heights here, and his time with Indian prog metallers Skyharbor has elevated him even further, hitting new, astonishing high notes and ever improved vocal lines show his flawless adaptability to the band’s changes.
It has often been challenging keeping up with the changes TesseracT undergo, but for every roadblock that hinders their path they always come out the other side stronger than ever; this line up feels definitive as Tompkins proves even with the significant steps the band have made forward, that he still fits like a glove. Polaris is yet another important and impressive leap forward by one of modern prog’s most important alumni.
Well another weekend and another show in Allston Rock City, as the denizens here have taken to calling it. Sure it has its share of faults like too many hipsters, huge rates, and a general nexus of drama that comes from being a hiccup from Boston and smack dab between two nicer neighborhoods. What Allston lacks in class, it has style up the rear end, and three of my favorite music venues within 7 blocks of each other. At Brighton Music Hall the band camp geek crowd of Boston was out to see some of prog/djent’s finest bands come to town.
Local youngsters Aviations were first up tonight. I had heard a bit about them, but I wasn’t familiar with their music until now. They were really impressive, accomplished players doing their take on djent. They also had a huge crew of friends and fans there, as evident by how active they were singing along, moshing and in general, being hyped as if these guys were the headliners. It was infections because the rest of the crowd quickly caught on. As as band they are a lot of fun live, put on an energetic show and their singer Adam Benjamin even jumped into the pit to mosh a few times! They are opening up for Animals as Leaders soon, so big things are in store for them.
A lot of folks in the house tonight were lured by the draw of Cloudkicker finally touring. Studio whiz Ben Sharp could finally strut his stuff, and with Intronaut as his backing band, it was going to be pretty exciting. They even had their own commemorative shirts that said Cloudtronaut… or was it IntroKicker? I can’t recall. Led by Sharp, the band cut through a string of flawless prog tunes such as ‘We’re Going In’, ‘You & Yours’, and ‘Dysphoria’. It was fairly amazeballs! Sharp’s guitar mastery is impeccable, as he pulled out a bevy of techniques. Techniques, mind you, not tricks. There is a difference. For their part, the Intronaut guys played great and helped bring these little masterpieces to life. Behind the band a video screen showed space satellite footage that added a little more juice to the scene. I for one hope this collaboration continues live, and perhaps even extending to the studio someday.
Staying on stage with only a short break, Intronaut continues to remind me over and over why they are one of the preeminent heavy music bands of our time. At this point in their career they can go out on a lot of tours they want to take, or just tour by themselves if they want, but to hit the road on this kind of package says a lot about them. Tonight they were doing a shorter set, on top of double duty. Opening with ‘Killing Birds with Stones’ was great, and such a good indicator of where the band is headed. Each of the players in this band is stellar, but none more so than Danny Walker on the drums. The guy is a machine on the kit, but plays with a lot of passion too. The vocals of Sacha Dunable and Dave Timnick always get me right in the guts too. Tracks like ‘Venom’ and set closer ‘The Way Down’ just stay with you long after the final notes disappear. Typical of Boston area shows, some people left after Intronaut and didn’t stay to the end of the show, possibly because their girlfriends were bored or something.
Tesseract took quite a while to go on, but everyone in the room was amped to see them. A rumor had gotten around the club before long that singer Ashe O’Hara was sick, and could not sing tonight. When the band hit the stage, there were still a lot of perplexed faces in the crowd as the band appeared to be down to a three-piece with no singer. The band played great and the crowd none the wiser enjoyed a few songs before Amos Williams addressed the crowd, confirming that doctors advised Ashe not to sing. However, the band planned to play their full set without him, apologized profusely over it. They ran through a mix of songs from their catalog, with the audience singing back at the singer-less band. It was actually awesome and a testament to the fan base of this band. From what I could tell, some people left early, disappointed. But those who stayed were rewarded for their patience, and the band played their asses off. It was one of the most mature and professional things I have seen in a long time, just how hard the band played and how humble they were the entire time. The situation was far from ideal, but isn’t that what live music is all about? Especially in a scene where everyone plays along to backing tracks and the like, it was great to see these guys were so unflappable. A special treat for the crowd was the closing number of the night ‘Concealing Fate: Part I Acceptance’ which was played to a lot of oohs and ahhs for those remaining in the room. Afterward the band went into the crowd for a long time, signing merch and taking pictures.
TesseracT Set List:
Of Mind – Exile
Concealing Fate, Part 2: Deception
Concealing Fate, Part 3: The Impossible
Of Energy – Singularity
Of Mind – Nocturne
Concealing Fate, Part 1: Acceptance
Words: Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
Photos: Echoes In The Well