As modern masters of Progressive Metal, TesseracT naturally draw on a range of influences and styles, while constructing a sound that is uniquely their own. Their latest album ‘Sonder’ is perhaps their greatest example of this yet, a beautifully varied and diverse offering that is a sonic and emotional rollercoaster for the listener.
The album begins with the bass-heavy and pounding riffs of Luminary, with bassist Amos Williams immediately making his presence felt alongside guitarists Acle Kahney and James Monteith. By contrast, Daniel Tompkins’ vocal introduction shifts the track to a space that is light and melodic. This enchanting, lilting section flows back into heaviness with the chorus, creating a beautiful union of sounds. The following verses have a slightly unsettling edge of darkness alongside such haunting lyrics as “Reminisce the scent of a single flower / What butchers cleave, the wolves devour.”
King continues the bass-heavy riffs, almost taking the music into a Meshuggah-like space. Tompkins’ vocal stylings in this track draw on the best of British Prog, including Steven Wilson, Roger Waters and even Paul McCartney’s more Progressive moments with the Beatles; but always enhancing the harsh depths. TesseracT’s signature vocal production is evident in the gentler sections of this track, while in others there is a touch of Maynard James Keenan’s influence. Jay Postones’ drumming remains relatively understated, but effective in the context of the tracks, highlighting that TesseracT’s approach to Prog is vested in deep and complex compositions, rather than all-out speed. King evolves into a dark and heavy place that is reminiscent of Wilson / Mikael Akerfeldt collaborations, perhaps most notably felling like a heavy Storm Corrosion. There’s also something of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Downward Spiral’ era in the quieter piano sections.
The brief Orbital starts out quiet and reflective, evoking a misty, enchanted forest. Tompkins’ vocals are soothing as the track slowly builds in intensity, then pulls right back again.
One of the strongest and most diverse track, Juno immediately kicks off with deep, climactic and heavy guitars reminiscent of Opeth, while stuttering synth elements and grooving bass make track truly unique. Postones navigates the varied sound superbly in his drumming, while the vocal-driven chorus is surprisingly melodic despite the heavy guitars beneath. This is one of the most progressive tracks on the album in terms of timing, while the chorus vocal lines are disarmingly catchy.
While slow and gentle, Beneath my Skin is also creepy in the fashion of Steven Wilson. Tompkins’ haunting vocals are particularly impressive in this track that eventually rises into a heavy, discordant, Progressive piece. Tension and climax are masterfully woven throughout the track, alongside Tompkins’ soulful, seductive vocals.
Mirror Image begins with gentle piano and beautifully mournful vocals, very powerful in their own right while Postones’ drums achieve greatness in their subtlety. Kahney and Monteith’s guitars grow and twist almost imperceptibly into heaviness throughout the track. The dark and climactic heaviness continues in Smile, which also features another excellent bass groove from Williams. This track gets so heavy however, that early on Tompkins’ vocals get somewhat lost beneath the guitars – though he later cuts through the avalanche of sound with Robert Plant-like wails leading into harsh aggression. As the track closes, Postones’ drums pick up a Martin Axenrot-like feel before the music transitions seamlessly into The Arrow. Though it seems like it will be a gentle epilogue, there is one final dash of climactic, heavy guitars before the end of the album.
Overall, ‘Sonder’ could well be TesseracT’s finest offering to date. The band’s growth in this release is clear, with a unique and cohesive brand that strides forward with every member of the band having something powerful to deliver. This album will no doubt be recognised as a landmark of British Progressive music for years to come.
TESSERACT’S ‘SONDER’ WILL BE RELEASED APRIL 20th. PREORDER IT HERE!