TesseracT – Polaris

Album_cover_for_Polaris_(Tesseract_album)

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.

 

9.0/10

 

CHRIS TIPPELL

Skyharbor – Guiding Lights

744_14086226800542f72a020

 

The Skyharbor story is a real triumphant battle against the difficulties of geography if anything else. What began on an seemingly insignificant stage of computer files by guitarist Keshav Dhar resulted in a truly international affair with a completed lineup of Indian, American and British personnel. The resulting album Blinding White Noise: Illusion And Chaos (Basick Records) was very well received by critics and fans alike, and even the logistical nightmare of live shows was even managed, including a support slot to Lamb Of God in India. The achievement this band has made in a short time should not be downplayed.

Follow up album Guiding Lights (Basick) sees the (ahem) light of day after around only 20 live shows, and sees them writing as a unit rather than as scattered pieces written mostly by Dhar; and it does show. Where Blinding White Noise… at times felt mismatched and lacking in focus, Guiding Lights is all the more wholesome and cohesive throughout. Proving all the more spacey than many of their djent counterparts, Skyharbor offer a more prog friendly variant, based more on soaring melodies and expansive time frames, but still with splatterings of groove. TesseracT frontman Dan Tompkins matches the softer element perfectly with his delicate pipes, eschewing the use of growls completely.

The albums only pitfall is the somewhat taxing running time, feeling like it runs just a little too long. This aside Guiding Light shows progression in huge leaps and bounds from its predecessor, more beautifully flowing and even near ambient in part. Skyharbor already forged a reputation as a shining (sorry) presence in progressive metal, now Guiding Light is one of the brightest jewels in the tech metal crown.

 

8.0/10

Skyharbor on Facebook

 

CHRIS TIPPELL