Photos: Dylan Martin, see more of his photography HERE
Words: Joseph Dipisa-Fiorenza
The excitement mounted fast as the audience filed their way down the stairs and towards the stage of 170 Russell, for the mighty Tesseract would soon be gracing it. In the meanwhile however, we had some very high standard opening acts to warm us up.
First up were Melbourne band Orsome Welles. This was my fourth time seeing these local legends and I can safely say they get consistently more epic every time. They’re undoubtedly one of the hardest working bands in Melbourne and it shows in how refined and huge their sound is. Highlights of this set were ‘Father’s Eyes’ as well as an older cut ‘Negative One’ whose brute heaviness one over the Tesseract crowd easily. The locking of Justin Price’s Drumming with Matt Mander’s bass playing providing the perfect foundation for guitarists Nick Toohey and Steven Angell, as well as the captivating presence and vocals of Michael Stowers.
Fresh from releasing their new album ‘The Last One’ the next band to take the stage was Circles, also from Melbourne. They of course delivered a set heavily flavoured by the new album. The highlight here was the song ‘Dream Sequence’ which had unexpected glitch sounds and an absolutely massive breakdown featuring digital samples. The guitar and bass playing of Ted Furuhashi and Drew Patton respectively were exceptionally solid.
At the conclusion of Circles set, a drone track began to play and would last nearly 20 minutes, slowly building with occasionally dynamic peaks and ravines. By the time the lights went down it was clear that this long ambient soundscape was indeed the intro track for Tesseract.
The UK powerhouse blasted onto the stage with ‘Luminary’ from their latest album ‘Sonder’ and what an entrance it was. The decibels were reaching new heights and our eyes were being blinded by the powerful lights.The energy in the room soared and pretty much stayed at it’s peak for the rest of the night.
After frontman Daniel Tompkins greets the audience the band take it back a couple of years with ‘Of Mind – Nocturne’ to thunderous cheers from the onlookers. The band demonstrated their technical proficiency at this point and continued to demonstrate it consistently. Jumping a bit out of sequence we are given ‘Concealing Fate, Part 2: Deception’ and ‘Concealing Fate, Part 3: The Impossible.’ Naturally leaving the audience to wonder where Part 1 was.
‘Survival’ provided an opportunity for the band to show their more gentle side. With the guitar playing of Acle Kahney and James Monteith creating soundscapes and epic rhythms all within the same tune when the need arises.
The groove created by Jay Postones and Amos Williams on drums and bass respectively got a chance to shine with ‘Dystopia’ and ‘Hexes’ both of the locking right into the pocket. While ‘Phoenix’ gave the audience a closer look at how nuanced Tompkins’ vocals are and how the band as a whole have hones their craft to the highest degree.
As the band retuned their instruments for the next song Tompkins revealed that they were about to perform a song that they haven’t played live much, and said, “This is one of the most meaningful songs we have ever written, or ever will write.” The song was ‘April’ and the crowd went wild for it.
Finally returning to ‘Sonder’ the ambient beginning of ‘Smile’ began and the energy of the room became hyper-charged. This song was an excellent exercise in tight musicianship. All matters of polyrhythms and polymeters were employed in the composition of this track and the vocal melody is the gravy on top that ties it all together. The translation of this to a live setting was flawless and encapsulated the essence of progressive metal.
Returning to the ‘Altered State’ album, we are treated to the two opening tracks ‘Of Matter – Proxy’ and ‘Of Matter – Retrospect’
A decision that clearly made the hardcore fans in the room very happy. These are two tracks that need to be heard one after the other. They’re inseparable and worked all the more for it live as a result.
Before playing one final cut from the latest record, Tompkins explains the meaning behind it. Explaining the word that gives the album it’s namesake. That every person is living a life as vivid and as complex as the next. The controlled tension and release of ‘King’ left the audience believing this would be the final song. We were happy to be wrong, finally getting ‘Concealing Fate, Part 1: Acceptance’ to bring the night to a satisfying end.