TESSERACT – ALTERED STATE

tesseractTESSERACT – ‘Altered State’
I’ve realised this review has taken me almost four hours to write over two days.  The reason for this unacceptable drop in productivity?  Every time I try to write with headphones in I end up zoning out and listening with my eyes closed, something I haven’t done for years.
  Although only the second full length album from home-grown prog-metal agitators Tesseract, Altered States immediately comes across as the work of veterans, distilling the human condition down into something complex, powerful and haunting.  Leaning heavily on the underlying mysteries of science and maths, the album is broken down into four movements, Matter, Mind, Reality and Energy – each one taking its own personality and like some of the best chaptered albums, you get the feeling there is an underlying theme; a message just on the edge of your comprehension.  This album is quite simply breathtaking.  The sheer power that explodes out of the musical arrangement alone is staggering.  A rhythm section so tight that a razor blade could not pass through, underlies complicated, fractured and at times almost cantankerous guitar stabs that yield to some of the most soaring endorphin-releasing hooks I’ve npt heard since….well…..I promised myself I wouldn’t mention Tool but yeah, Tool.  Shit.  It’s not fair to compare any band to Tool but this album is quite honestly the first I would put on the same shelf as Lateralus.  Deep right?   Ok, in some ways they are worlds apart but parallels can definitely be drawn here and that is probably one of the biggest compliments I can give a band.  And this is all before I even mention the vocals.  Tesseract seem to go through more singers than a whore gets through wet-wipes, but in 2012 they enlisted the chords of Brighton boy Ashe O’Hara and what a find he is.  His delivery is achingly moving; a near perfect blend of soaring power, on-the-button timing and fragility (I’m not ashamed to say that in weaker moments my eyes have filled with salt water during the middle of the track Exile).  Interestingly, at no point in the album do we get a roar from O’Hara.  At first this bothered me a little but for a band that seems to be taking a white hot piss on the tenants of metal music, I have grown not only to like the lack of roaring, ive come to respect it.  I would usually suggest some of the better tracks to listen to but not this time.  From the bass-rumble opening to the saxophone solo at the end of the last track, Altered States should be considered a singular work of genius (that’s right, ending on a fucking saxophone solo, what of it?).  The only thing that has broken my obsession with this album is the new QotSA and even that has to share a playlist with this.  So….there can be only one rating here.  (10)
CHRIS BIDAD

 

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