Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tesseract - One (2011) Album Review

First of all, the hell is this new prog-metal sub-genre they are calling "djent"? It just sounds rather silly and by the ring of it, it seems it's headed for utter ridicule- like "grunge" or "nu-metal" did. I haven't really warmed up to its namesake, but apparently this was coined by Meshuggah guitarist Fredrik Thordendal to describe the sound of the guitar featured in most Meshuggah songs. That aside, I still think it's a pretty silly name. It's like naming your kid "Bozo" and sending him to school, wondering how he will fare with bullies.

I love Meshuggah. Make no mistake about it. And I've been weaving through Meshuggah-inspired bands since. It seems my craving for heavy polyrhythms and odd time signatures is insatiable... sifting through Youtube videos, checking out live performances, searching for that "band" that would become my focal point in all this "djent" madness.


I admit, I wasn't that impressed after first seeing their music video for "Concealing Fate Part 2 - Deception". Thought it was too generic, and themselves looking like the generic 'band-trying-to-look-cool' on camera. The recording also sounded too "light" for my tastes that I didn't even bother finishing it. I was previously listening to Periphery at the time, and noting the relentless sonic assault prevalent in that band's self-titled album (the instrumental version), I considered Tesseract tame. But let me say this now, and consider this my apology for being such an inconsiderable cynical prick: Periphery has nothing on Tesseract.* Tesseract is simply... phenomenal- for lack of a better word. Well, yeah, in fact I think that word fits perfectly.

This is the first band in a very long time that I can't seem to find any flaws. I mean, sure, these guys are probably not perfect, but what their peers are doing wrong (or are struggling to do right), these guys are just doing it down pat- perfectly. For one, this is the first band in the "djent" scene that actually makes good use of its vocalist. While others still seem to be stuck with the emo/screamo hangover from years past - rendering their vocalists unbearably annoying, Tesseract, on the other hand, has it down with atmospheric vocals, with the occasional screams sprinkled in small doses here and there, not going overboard. And there you have it- the first band, in my opinion, that has perfectly executed its vision of vocals in the midst of heavy polyrhythms. A first! (as far as I know). The fragile-aggressive vocal stylings blends perfectly with the heavy instrumentation which makes this band's sound stand out among its peers- in a genre that can sometimes become too mathematical.

The instrumentation is a given, as is expected of any band that dare ventures into these Meshuggah-laden territories. You just have to be that talented to ever be considered 'peers' with the rest of the bands that grace this branch of metal. It's quite clear this band spends an ENORMOUS amount of time honing their skills, memorizing song segments, improving their technique... everything that goes with it. I can't say the opposite for other bands in the genre since they're equally as skilled in timekeeping and technique. But ultimately, this whole movement is the apex for any band wanting to play at the highest level as a unit. I mean, yes, there are individual prodigies in the music world, but it's unmistakably much more impressive to see 4 to 5 equally talented dudes playing at the same time to create incredibly complicated and beautiful rock songs. It's just really impressive, and I'm pretty excited where this whole 'djent' movement takes us.

As for Tesseract, I just consider them the cream of the crop.


Concealing Fate Part 3 - The Impossible:

*There's really this confusing thing about Periphery. On the one hand, we got the insanely impressive instrumental record- on the other, we got the actual release with that horrible vocalist. I absolutely HATE it that they decided to get a vocalist like that. It just takes so much away from the music. And for the record, Periphery is more ambitious, adventurous, and overall better instrumentally than Tesseract.