Concert Review: TesseracT / The Contortionist / Erra / Skyharbor

When news hit that TesseracT would be touring across North America in support of their newest album “Polaris,” I did everything in my power to leave my night open for them. My anticipation intensified when I found out that The Contortionist, Erra, and Skyharbor were supporting them. For those who don’t know of these bands, this is a massive lineup, containing some of the brightest, up-and-coming bands in the progressive metal genre. I was lucky enough to have been given an opportunity from Entertainment One Group to write about TesseracT’s latest stop at the House of Blues in San Diego on Monday. With so much enthusiasm going into this concert, I made sure to listen to every band’s discography a week before the show. Although I may have not remembered all of the lyrics or powerful moments of every band’s songs, I did enter through the venue doors with an idea of what to expect.Read More »

tesseract tour

Concert Preview: TesseracT

Their first tour in the United States in years, English prog metal band TesseracT will be playing at the House of Blues in San Diego next Monday.

This will be my first time seeing a concert at the House of Blues in several months, but the first time I’ve ever seen TesseracT live. Having conversed with drummer Jay Postones over the weeks, I look forward to his live performance on the stage. The House of Blues is a staple in the San Diego music scene, having hosted hundreds of bands large and small over the years. There’s always room to see, whether you’re in the pit or on the second floor balcony.

Formed in 2007, TesseracT have released three albums, their latest “Polaris” released earlier this year. After parting with the band for their previous album “Altered State,” singer Daniel Tompkins returns better than ever. They are supported by The Contortionist (who I’ve seen earlier this year), Erra, and Skyharbor, concert-goers will be aware of the long night ahead of them.

Buy tickets

When: Monday, November 23rd, 2015
Doors: 6:00pm

Where: The House of Blues San Diego
1055 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

Cost: $20

Top 5: Best TesseracT Songs

Here’s another Top 5 coming your way.

Progressive metal band TesseracT now has three albums to date with their release of “Polaris” earlier this year. With two different singers in that span, we’ve got some different sounding songs to play around with. Which singer will be represented more in Crash And Ride Music’s Top 5? Let’s find out!

So, sit back and enjoy Crash And Ride Music’s Top 5 Best TesseracT songs:

5. “Eden”

4. “Of Matter – Retrospect”

3. “Survival”

2. “Lament”

1. “Of Mind – Nocturne”

There you have it! It looks like Daniel Tompkins beats out Ashe O’Hara three to two. But O’Hara does win when it comes to best vocals on a TesseracT track.

What is YOUR Top 5? Sound off below!

Single Review: TesseracT – Messenger

Big news was released from Kscope yesterday: TesseracT has revealed its first single off their upcoming album “Polaris.” After another lineup change, singer Daniel Thompkins has returned to the band, providing a lower registered voice left off by former frontman and falsetto master Ashe O’Hara. The single, “Messenger,” is a perfect teaser to fans of the band, and a welcome back to the lead singer.

Lasting around three and a half minutes, “Messenger” picks up where songs off their last record “Altered State” left off. With mainly clean vocals, Thompkins’ passionate voice is center stage, proving that the switch in vocals was well worth it. I’m not going to lie, I was a huge fan of Ashe O’Hara. In fact, it was the album he fronted that got me into the band in the first place. Since the single is shorter, we are unable to tell what depth Thompkins will bring to the album, whether he can provide those falsetto notes that he simply couldn’t hit off their recent live album. After listening to the song, I was relieved that the band provided a lower pitch with their instrumentation to better compliment Thompkins’ lower voice. In addition to Thompkins’ clean vocals, we are given a preview of those passionate screams that Ashe never entertained. It was the one thing lacking in their near-masterpiece, that extra effort needed to increase the emotion on that album. I can’t wait to hear how Thompkins will incorporate his screams and growls into “Polaris.”

Speaking of the band’s instrumentation, I can’t get enough of their djenty sound. I have hailed drummer Jay Postones in the past, who provides not so much the speed that other prog metal bands have, but instead a much more technical skillset. He shines again on the single, with deep floor pedal hits and cymbal crashes. He alone is worth a listen, and leaves me in anticipation for the rest of the album. The deep sound continues with the bass and electric guitar, which bounce their low tones off each other. I particularly enjoyed the subtle inclusion of keyboards in “Messenger,” especially towards the song’s end. Helping to relax the listener, the song fades out with keyboards and sound manipulation, furthering the progressive direction they’ve been heading towards since their first album.

The lyrics are a little vague, but it comes across as a breakup song. Time will tell if the album follows the concept. In the meantime, I will praise the amazing bridge section, containing the most passionate vocal delivery and the greatest collaborative effort from the band:

“Apathetic, interaction, another distraction / A lack of compassion for the weak / You don’t see”

With so much anticipation being built for their upcoming album, “Messenger” is the perfect single to release off of “Polaris.” Although short, it perfectly teases the listener, providing a glimpse of Thompkins’ reuniting vocals and top notch instrumentation. I am sure fans will be satisfied with this record after their single release. Be sure to support this band as they release their upcoming album in September.

Check out the official music video for “Messenger” below:

TesseracT – Altered State

This next album features a band that was included in this year’s Sonisphere lineup in the UK. After scrolling through the long list of bands in attendance, I came upon the band TesseracT. Before Sonisphere, I had never heard of them. After some basic research, I found out how renowned the band was in other countries, how they have been together for many years, and have released two albums. Being compared to bands like Periphery and Between the Buried and Me on other websites, I thought I’d give this band a shot.

This five-piece from Britain has recently released their newest album titled “Altered State,” their only album featuring vocalist Ashe O’Hara. Spanning close to an hour, this album features 10 songs broken down into 4 total movements. I can describe this album as progressive metal, but the sound that envelopes this entire album could help expand the genre into ambient or space rock. The vibe throughout the album is very interesting, and goes almost unnoticed between songs if one pays little attention to it. Over top this ambiance is the brilliant musicianship of the band as they perform one of my favorite albums I’ve listened to recently.

The guitar work is phenomenal, using djent guitar work for both bass and electric guitars. Acie Kahney and James Monteith on guitar, and Amos Williams on bass guitar do a brilliant job, mixing different styles of progressive metal throughout the entire album. The range of sound shifts dramatically, from deeper, palm-muted riffs in the song “Of Matter” to a much softer, delicate, and more ambient tone in the song “Of Energy.” Although featuring less solos than a typical progressive metal album, these guitarists more than make up for it in the beautiful sound they create, ranging from sounds like Animals as Leaders to Pink Floyd. Using effects like reverb and delay, the guitars are key components to the overall production, and become the driving force of the entire album, like violins to a symphony.

TesseracT - Altered State
Photo by Modern Drummer

Jay Postones does a magnificent job on the drum set. A change in sound from their last album “One,” Postones relies less on the double bass pedal and focuses more on crisp, clear hits on the upper half of his drum set. The song “Of Reality” shows the drums at its finest, as the drums display perfect timing and precision amongst the other instruments. The change in time signatures that so often accompanies progressive metal is present throughout the album, but the drum work helps to make the transition flow more smoothly, creating an easier listening experience to the audience.

Having only sung on this album, Ashe O’Hara adds “Altered State” as a highlight to his musical resume. O’Hara can truly belt out the lyrics with his talented voice, and easily proves his strength early in the album. His voice is best represented in the song “Of Mind – Nocturne,” as his range dives from lows to soaring highs. Unlike their last album, there is no scream or growl vocals, proving that metal can be just as great without it. Vocals would be pointless without meaningful lyrics, which TesseracT is able to surprise me with their complexity and significance. The chorus of the song “Of Mind – Nocturne” displays one of the most colorful and interesting of lyrics in the album:

“You’re the plague within my dreams / Soaring through an atmosphere of an adequate lack of strength (and we’re responsible) / The truth is that it will end here / Denial’s an impairment of your fear / Can we save us from ourselves? / Can we save us from ourselves? (This is the savior and its form)” (source)

That’s coming from the chorus. Touching on aspects of love, loss, and self-realization, one can only imagine the imagery of all that O’Hara sings throughout the rest of the album.

The one thing that stood out most to me in this album is its composition. When I listen to “Altered State,” I feel like I’m listening to two different albums at once. The first album is a progressive metal vibe, one with deep guitar rhythm, complex drumbeats, and vocals that set the overall mood and tone of the song. The other album I can hear is more of a musical score, featuring guest musician Chris Barretto on saxophone, and is full of ambient tones and spacey sound effects that layer below the instruments. As stated earlier, it is almost unnoticeable if you aren’t paying full attention to the album, meaning you lose an entire layer of what makes this album so great. Unlike their first album “One,” “Altered State” shows the band expanding into new territory, providing a much more ambitious and intricate album.

TesseracT - Altered State

“Altered State” is an album that you must clear your schedule in order to not only hear the album, but fully feel the album. One has to carefully listen to the album through over-the-ear headphones to trap out external noise that could interfere. I also recommend increasing the bass, which is necessary for this album due to their djent-like sound. Unlike typical progressive metal albums, this album is not one to mosh to or jump around to. I cannot use a statement equivalent to “if you like ___, then you’ll love Altered State” because of the uniqueness behind the overall sound. Attempting to make comparisons of other albums or bands to this album would only be suggesting contradicting styles of music. This album truly is a listening experience. So sit back in your favorite seat, get comfortable, click play, and enjoy your one hour musical experience! Please support this band on their website as they tour across the globe.

Check out this Youtube video of my favorite song off the album “Of Mind”: