23 September 2023

TesseracT – War of Being

Releasedate:   15 september 2023
Label: Kscope

The British progressive metal act TesseracT is back after 5 years with a new release. A quick recap for those who are starting their TesseracT journey here: The band has been around since the early 2000s, but their first release “One” happened only in 2011. They have been responsible for adding a pop sensibility to the ever-growing musical movement that some people call “Djent,” a term that has been coined, so to speak, by Misha Mansoor from Periphery when describing a sound that’s particular to their style, which is Meshuggah-influenced palm-muted chuggy guitar riffs that are rhythmically complex in nature. But the music from TesseracT and Meshuggah might not be that similar for most people; the usage of complex downtuned riffs is where most of the similarities end. The differences lie in the more approachable pop-oriented stylistic elements that TesseracT add to their mix.

War of Being

The long wait between releases was definitely worth it as “War of Being” has much to offer to new and old fans, starting with the fact that it’s an introspective concept album… Wait, Prog metal and concept albums that dwell about the idea of the self? Yeah, we know, that’s quite expected, but they went even further with the nerdiness vibes and developed a VR video game to go along with it. That’s when you realize they know they’re onto something with this album. If you’d like to play it, go on Steam and combine your playthrough with the VR world for a more cross-media prog metal experience.

According to the band in a statement done during the release of the first single about the concept behind this album’s subject matter: “The Dream has crash-landed, and ‘ex’ and ‘el’ awaken to find themselves in “The Strangeland,” facing a foe known simply as “Fear.” The two are separated, and so begins the journey of War Of Being…” Intriguing!

They have released singles “The Grey” and “War of Being” prior to the release of the album, and fans have been singing their praises in regards to these new tracks, and they are right, they are bangers. Is the rest of the album up to par though? We will find out.

The album starts with “Natural Disaster” that quickly hits you with an aggressive intro, the screams transition to a slower-paced and more melodic section. This song is a testament to how TesseracT is able to play with complex rhythmic sections that are all interwoven together tastefully. The guitars sound as aggressive as they have ever sounded, kudos to the excellent production here and at the same time as pristine and melodic as ever. It’s a marriage between the old and the new, one that just makes sense.

With “Echoes,” Dan Tompkins takes us into a more somber yet melodic part of Strangeland, which is the setting where this concept album takes place. “Echoes” offers a great catchy chorus which occasionally ventures into screamed vocals.

The second single “The Grey” is probably my favorite section of the album, by far the catchiest song with a great rhythmic section for the verses that have a staccato-style riff that builds up, an amazing riff that is beautiful to hear against Dan’s vocal melody. Amos Williams, in addition to playing the amazing bass lines on this track, is responsible for helping build the universe which was created for this concept album.

Legion” is where Tom shines the most, a good piece to add to his vocal portfolio to showcase the different textures his voice can produce, all in support of a song that ranges so many emotions within the human scope. The falsetto sections in this song are truly a thing of beauty, especially how they go back and forth with the screamed parts.

Here would be a great place to mention that the album is constantly in perpetual motion; all the songs are flowing with each other. It’s like one long song. This merge is beautifully crafted in the transition with “Tender,” this song, as what you would expect from the title, is sonically quite tender, a good place to breathe and ponder about oneself perhaps before we venture into the epic piece that is “War of Being.”

You probably are already acquainted with the title track as it’s the first single that also came out with an accompanying music video. This 11-minute song starts with a killer prog metal riffage intro, an in-your-face statement which is followed by an ambient buildup with Dan Tompkin’s vocals, which range from soothing and melodic singalong moments to crushing aggressive screaming. You will experience all these different sonic textures, its ups and downs very well mixed within the song, making the ultimate TesseracT ride. This song is definitely the focal point of the album, the climax if you will. The reception by fans after this release was again very special and noticeable; it is indeed a great comeback.

Sirens” goes in an even softer and atmospheric direction. After such an epic song as “War of Being,” I appreciate the dynamic element that such chronological order offers. It fosters the idea of musical storytelling devices that albums can be, in an age of songs being broken apart from where they come from by modern music listening habits; this is just a reminder that you should listen to whole albums, when you can.

Burden” showcases how a bassline can drive the verse of a song like this so powerfully, together with the refreshing melodies provided by the vocals. The song builds up to more complex territory with the closing rhythmic section, which reminds you of what TesseracT can do. It transitions beautifully to the last piece “Sacrifice,” a song that waves you goodbye with their more tranquil side, at least within the verses that are very atmospheric and melodic. The chorus picks up the pace, and even though the guitar chords are very low in register, the feeling evoked by the band altogether here is uplifting.

This is a great album for people just getting into TesseracT as it offers a mix between heaviness, melody and atmospherics, all elements that have played their part in the TesseracT journey. In addition to that, it’s just a great catchy record with amazing musicianship, storytelling, composition and production, a total prog metal banger, one to help define the direction of this genre in the 2020s.

Line up:

  • Daniel Tompkins – Vocals
  • Amos Williams – Bass
  • Jay Postones – Drums
  • Acle Kahney – Guitars
  • James Monteith – Guitars

Tracklist

  1. Natural Disaster
  2. Echoes
  3. The Grey
  4. Legion
  5. Tender
  6. War of Being
  7. Sirens
  8. Burden
  9. Sacrifice

Links:

Official
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