Sunday, April 22, 2018

TesseracT - Sonder (2018)

Being seen as one of the more challenging bands within the progressive metal genre, the Americans in TesseracT has been one of the most interesting bands during the 10's. Their unique style of sleek progressive "djent" metal has been a delight to experience every time a new album has dropped, and with "Sonder" being the first record without a change at the vocal position, it is set up for the band to blow us away with their fourth offering.

Here is the thing though, while TesseracT has always been an enjoyable band to listen to, I have felt that none of the three previous records have taken it that extra mile. They have been interesting, but not completely bullet proof for an entire album. Also, for a band that is trying such complicated time signatures and odd rhythms, most of it sounds surprisingly similar. The tempo is the biggest culprit here, the band rarely changes up or down on the speed dial, which gives the impression of a very monotonous record, something that is even more enhanced here in "Sonder".

Also, for a progressive band, TesseracT is very restrained, with "Sonder" only reaching just over half an hour of play time over the course of seven songs. So this is not a meaty record by any means, which once again makes me wonder, why is the band not pushing themselves? These guys have tons of talent, they know how to write some intelligent music, and they know how to capture the attention of the listener, so why are they holding back? It is so frustrating to see this talent only reaching about 60-70% of its potential.

What is stranger is that the band is going for it fully in one song. The 11 minute behemoth "Beneath My Skin/Mirror Image" takes up a third of the run time, but it uses its time very well, with some incredible atmospheric moments and some sneaky technical drumming from Jay Postones. To put all effort into a single song  (technically a fusion between two songs) is not necessarily a bad thing... if you are making an EP, and even if it takes a lot of space, it should not be that big of a focus. "Sonder" obviously has some other nice tunes, like the opening duo "Luminary" and "King" or the powerful "Juno", but most are just another song among the crowd.

Now, the main positive I can say about the album is that it is technically exquisite. TesseracT is not a show off of a band, they never shove their skills into your ears with brute force. They simply let the flow do the talking, and it is talking really nicely.The bass of Amos Williams is nice and loud, the dual guitar of Acle Kahney and James Monteith is tight, and the vocals of Daniel Tompkins is very precise, nailing the right tones to create a brilliant atmosphere. They may not be pushing their skills to the max, but they are still doing an impeccable job.

So yeah, while "Sonder" is certainly an enjoyable record that any TesseracT fan should eat up fairly easily, it is just a small little tapas piece that might not satisfy the hunger. It is also a little too close to its predecessors for one to tolerate, this is after all a band that should evolve, should take their sound into other territories, but have not done so in a grand enough scale. They can accomplish so much more than what they have done so far, which is why I have been a little hard on them here in this review. "Sonder" is still a neat record, but I am still waiting for that slam dunk from the band, maybe next time.

Songs worthy of recognition: Beneath My Skin/Mirror Image, King, Juno

Rating: 7/10 Smiles

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