Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia
Reviewed By Justin Donnelly
A new look and sound – even if short lived
Although I’m not a huge fan of the ‘djent’ movement as a whole (too many Meshuggah sounding acts, and too few that genuinely offer something new and original sounding for my liking), there are a few acts in the scene that I have taken a liking to. One such act is Reading (U.K.) based outfit Tesseract, who quite literally blew me away with their 2011 debut full-length effort, One, which showcased the band’s ability to deliver the familiar ‘djent’ sound but with a progressive edge that really made them stand out against the countless other clone acts in the scene. Needless to say, I was quite excited to see what the band would come up with on their follow-up release but, to my disappointment, vocalist Daniel Tompkins decided to part ways with the band in August 2011. As one of the band’s huge stand out features, the loss of Tompkins was a blow to the band to say the least. Nonetheless, Tesseract (comprising of guitarists Alec ‘Acle’ Kahney and James Monteith, bassist/backing vocalist Amos Williams and drummer Jay Postones) quickly announced the addition of ex-Sky Eats Airplane/Of Man Not Of Machine/Zelliack vocalist Elliot Coleman to their ranks, and hit the road in order to introduce their new front man to fans.
Inspired by an acoustic radio session the band played in Brooklyn (New York, U.S.) a year beforehand, and realising that Coleman’s vocals have a completely different sound from those of Tompkins, Tesseract have decided instead to record a new E.P. rather than dive into a new full-length effort – which brings us to their latest effort Perspective. My initial concerns were how big a shift in style Coleman is to Tompkins on the vocal front and how Tesseract’s progressive ‘djent’ music would translate in acoustic form? Well, to sum it up in a short few words – different, but in a good way.
The band opens up the E.P. with Concealing Fate - Part Four - Perfection, which immediately reveals the direction Tesseract deliver for most of the E.P. The keyboards still play a large part in the band’s overall sound, but where you would normally expect the guitars to come crashing in with their huge riffs, the duo take on more of a supporting role to the keyboards, drums and Coleman out front, with the electrics used sparingly. It’s a new take on a familiar sound, but one that definitely works on the musical front. Coleman positively excels in the moody atmosphere of this reworked track, with his range being given a full work out. Style wise, it wouldn’t be a stretch that his vocals bring to mind Jeff Buckley for the most part.
On April, the changes between the original and this revised effort aren’t as blatant as the former track, aside from lack of aggression in Coleman’s vocals compared to Tompkins. Although having said that, it has to be said that Coleman does an admirable job at following Tompkins’ difficult melodies.
Much like the opener, Concealing Fate - Part Six - Origin showcases some subtle changes over the original (most notably it’s higher key), which successfully transforms the song into something quite different – yet strangely familiar at the same time.
Given Coleman’s style of vocals, it’s not all that surprising to see the band cover Jeff Buckley’s Dream Brother (from 1994’s classic, Grace). Despite the fact that it’s a cover, the song is a definite highlight, and sounds like a perfect fit for Tesseract with Coleman out front.
Obviously keen to show that Coleman is more than capable to handle the heavy material as well, the band finish up the E.P. with a reworked Eden, which has been retitled as Eden 2.0. Although Coleman lacks a bit of the aggression compared to Tompkins, his performance here still works well enough to find the track thoroughly enjoyable.
Unfortunately, Coleman has moved on since the release of Perspective, which has put Tesseract back to square one. It’s a disappointing outcome, because I really think that Coleman was a good fit for the band. But while the pairing was a short lived one, at least they managed to document their short time together with a solid stop-gap E.P.