Ghost Cult Caught up with Cabal vocalist Andreas Bjulver Paarup to discuss their slamming new album Drag Me Down, out now via Long Branch Records. Andres discussed the new album, the bands’ process for writing the new albums, writing for and working with guests such as Matt Heafy (Trivium), Jamie Hails (Polaris) and Kim Song Sternkopf (Møl), thoughts on the deathcore versus death metal genres, elitism in metal fans, future plans for the band, and much more. You can purchase Drag Me Down here. Continue reading
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Metalcore upstarts Void of Vision had dropped a new single today! They shared a crushing cover of Slipknot’s hit “Psychosocial”. The track features steller guest-starring spots from Marcus Bridge (Northlane), Sean Harmanis (Make Them Suffer) and Ryan Siew (Polaris). The collaboration comes as part of a Metal Hammer compilation CD paired with the magazine’s special Slipknot edition last month. The likes of Cursed Earth (“People=Shit”), Hacktivist (“Duality”) and Employed To Serve (“Purity”) also lend their skills to the CD, resulting in an absolutely pummeling compilation of covers.Continue reading
The bastion of progressive, challenging and heavy music in the world, Kscope is celebrating ten years in business in 2018! Cheers! To help us celebrate, music industry veteran Simon Glacken of For The Lost PR has shared his favourite releases from the Kscope label.Continue reading
TesseracT will be returning to the States in support of Gojira next week, and to get you extra excited for those dates, they’ve finally unveiled the beautiful new ‘Hexes‘ video for our viewing pleasure today. Continue reading
Progressive metal stars Tesseract have hit the ground running hard since the release of their new album Polaris (Kscope) in 2015. Re-energized by returning vocalist Daniel Tompkins and new horizons to reach for musically, the band has been slaying out on tour. Will a huge headline run of dates in their native United Kingdom, as well as the rest of Europe, rabid fans were in a froth. Especially to see Tompkins, who is truly a great conduit vocally and lyrically for what the bands lays down. Most of the shows on the tour are already sold-out, attesting to the greatness of this band; already a modern legend. On this night at Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, the band was supported directly by like-minded US proggers The Contortionist and Nordic Giants (not pictured). The Contortionist themselves are another great young band, with a similar career arc of the headliners. Now fronted by Michael Lessard (Last Chance To Reason), the band is touring hardcore behind their own recent release the “Rediscovered” version of their album Language (eOne). As for the headliners, if you have ever seen them live, they are masterful performers. On this night they crafted a set list highlighting their newest work, but always remembering the moments from older albums that got them here in the first place. Captured here for Ghost Cult by Luke Denham of Luke Denham Photography, you get a glimpse one of tomorrow’s best band, today.
TesseracT set list:
Concealing Fate, Part Two: Deception
Concealing Fate, Part Three: The Impossible
Of Matter: Proxy
Of Matter: Retrospect
Of Matter: Resist
Of Mind: Nocture
Concealing Fate, Part One: Acceptance
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If there is one thing that djent bands are very adept at it is their ability to lose vocalists, so much so it seems to be a rite of passage amongst bands of this ilk, from Monuments and Periphery to The Contortionist. TesseracT it is well documented are no slouches in this department, seeming to change as much as the WWE attitude era Hardcore Championship. Still in the touring cycle for previous album Altered State(Century Media) and on the eve of the summer festivals, came the news that Ashe O’Hara had left the fold, and the welcome surprise that talismanic vocalist Dan Tompkins (at the time also singing for Skyharbor and his own project White Moth Black Butterfly) had assumed his old role.
At the time it seemed completely out of the blue for Tompkins to return, but as Jay Postones explains, he was always the right man for the job, it was circumstances that played their part: “We always kept in contact with Dan and he just couldn’t do it back in the day, when we were touring it was a bit much for him really. But now we are in a much better position, more stable financially and we are able to do it as a proper band. He’s always been able to ride to the music very easily, he’s always been a part of TesseracT, really it’s just the right time.”
In that time, as Postones states, they were always in contact, and during his absence Tompkins had kept very busy with other bands and projects and has been a frequent part of the scene so the idea of rust wasn’t an issue. With so much time passed however you’d expect a settling in period of sorts. As it turns out, this wasn’t the case: “There was no need for integration at all. The hardest thing was getting all the legal stuff right because he had been screwed over before with record labels, management etc, but in artistic terms of what we were trying to create; our vision and his vision align so it was spot on as it’s always been…It was very simple, he came back in and started writing and it was seamless. It’s just great to be working with him again.”
Talking with Postones it is abundantly clear that the band are extremely happy to welcome their old singer and brother back in, in part due to the memories of those early and older tours that they were so fond of. His return brought back that sense of nostalgia as well as the lease of life to move forward: “One of the cool things was that we had a lot of material and demos written from about 2011/12 when he was with us before that we were able to revisit; there were some riffs that we started for Polaris (Kscope). It was really nice to start at that point because a lot of them were written on tour, Dan would be singing along in the van when we were driving past things like crazy, massive lakes in Canada and places like that, and it was nice to be able to start and think back to then.”
Looking back at début album One (Century Media) and Tompkins’ other projects he has done it is clear that he is quite simply a phenomenal talent, but as Postones explains about the singer’s learning curve, frighteningly he is just getting better: “Everything he has done has improved his abilities, he can sing higher that he could before which is just insane because he could reach some stupid notes when he joined is. Everything he has done has helped him develop his voice to a stage he can effortlessly do stuff on Polaris without over shooting himself, and the reason I say that is because if you play an absolute blinder on recording, you have to do it live as well, especially for a vocalist, so what he has put down, every night he’d be fine.”
The impact of Tompkins’ return has not only seen his performance on the microphone skyrocket, but has also made an impression and effect on the rest of the band, rejuvenating them all to a whole new level: “I think the level we had come to expect, I think the bar was raised when Dan came back to us. He was able to absolutely fly with the material. Seeing him nail it every night made us up our game and it was inspiring to see.”
There is the old adage about people or things fitting together perfectly like a glove, and of course it is always cliché for bands to say this about any member when they are together and then that changes when they depart. With Tompkins’ back in the band however, the obvious connection amongst the entire unit and the bond they have shared even when apart suggests that this is the definite incarnation.
“We are all a similar age and we get on really well on tour. You’ve got to be a band of brothers when you’re in a band, not just a touring business which it is for some bands. You can spot the bands that aren’t going to make it more than a few years because there’s arguing, bitterness and egos. The thing with this band for me is that there is none of that. If you need space you get space, we all know each other really well now and can support each other when having a bad time.”
Even the issue of distance between the members (mostly all scattered around the UK with bassist Amos Williams now residing in Shanghai) does not prove too much of a burden for TesseracT, with them all making sure the communication is still going, and the unity they have as a group: “There’s a lot of conversation, the amount of emails between us is ridiculous, like about 100 or so a day. But other than the time difference in Shanghai it’s the same as it’s always been. As well as the emails there’s the usual stupidity between us all, we are a band of mates which is great, and I hope it stays that way.”
WORDS BY CHRIS TIPPELL
With the music industry as difficult and un-financially viable a path as it is in the modern day, the survival of bands is not without some roadblocks along the way. Bands calling it quits altogether, members coming and going and a greater need to stand out and make a mark are just some such trials that can make or break.
Since their roots as a bedroom project of guitarist Acle Kahney in 2003, UK prog metaller’s TesseracT have overcome and experienced much more than many of their peers could ever have imagined, all the while almost making it look easy. Being considered a founding alumni of the ‘djent’ scene with their debut album One, they survived the style’s saturation through some evolution on follow up Altered State (both Century Media), vocalist changes as frequent as the weather. Oh, and they’ve also played on an iceberg.
The transition from One to Altered State saw a departure from the extreme metal influences of which they were known for a more melodic approach. On their newest effort Polaris (Kscope/eOne), as drummer Jay Postones explains, the forward motion is continuing: “It’s just progressed from the last album. I know that’s a really cliché thing to say because its progressive music and we just constantly strive to make something a little bit different but, I think we were perhaps more focused with this one, maybe less rushed and we had a bit more time to structure the songs and work on the ideas that really excited us.”
Comparing Polaris to its predecessors, it is an ever greater leap into more prog and ambient territory than Altered State was; a much more layered and even intricate work. As Postones explains, much of the reason for this was the working influence and presence of their sound engineer Aiden O’Brien: “He wrote a lot of the ambient parts and the piano; he had a massive input on this album. You can hear a lot of subtle differences, like, going between songs, and he has been involved in writing those parts. There’s a kind of sixth dimension to it which has been really cool.”
In fact the experience of O’Brien from other aspects of the music industry helped towards making an invaluable contribution to Polaris’ hypnotic and serene atmosphere. “He performs as much as we do (and) he’s been with us for a very long time; his main job is writing music for TV ads and stuff like that, so he knows how things should sound, for want of a better phrase.
“It’s very subtle things that many people might not hear but for people with massive speakers or headphones, they will hear the things he does. They may be subtle or subliminal but they make an impact and make a difference to us. It helps you feel the music a lot more. There’s a lot more going on than any other record.”
On the face of things it could be said that perhaps TesseracT, more than just moving from the scene that they helped to shape, are in actual fact veering from metal altogether. Certainly there are moments here where metal is entirely stripped away, for example the drifting, brooding ‘Hexes’, but simultaneously there are still heavier moments and even some growled vocals that were completely absent on Altered State. Postones gives an insight in this notion: “I think you’re fair in saying that to be honest. Even though there’s some block out moments and some screams which we didn’t do on Altered State; Dan (Tompkins, vocals) would say that works and put them in, and you never wanted to say never in case it works properly. But we’ve always tried to go with what feels right, we never want to conform to anything, we just want to write music that feels right to us.”
Postones goes on to explain that, rather than being a calculated decision by the band, or even a committee, the creative process simply happens organically: “There isn’t even conversations or emails from management saying you have to write a song like this, its never been like that with this band. We put our foot down and that’s how we choose to do it. If we ever had to compromise any creative aspect of this band to appease the business I don’t think we would get as much enjoyment out of it.
“We enjoy playing, we enjoy touring and writing. We aren’t stubbornly trying to do anything , we just do what we like to do.”
WORDS BY CHRIS TIPPELL
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.