TesseracT – One
As an art metal staple, TesseracT’s vast precedent in light of One is yet another triumph of the information age; is it interesting that, after a half decade of strong e-demonstrations, their first LP on big time indie Century Media has produced an impressively banal culmination? Perhaps, as One furthers exposes the uneasy median between a respectable Karnivool reach and obnoxious nu-metalcore that TesseracT embodies. The extreme music community finally seems to have caught up with the band by gifting numerous signings to infinitely more puerile bands that have made a habit out of aping TesseracT’s apers; excuse the rolling of the eyes if it’s in 2011 that One‘s effect is officially felt. The song skeletons have survived but not much along with them. “Sunrise” and “April”‘s openings were pleasantly familiar, and a testament to the overall tracks’ memorability in light of my not having listened to them since before I was a high school graduate. But where are the swells? The folding of the metal abstracts as an ivory tower voice dictates the undulation of their groove? What listeners get in 2011 is a rehearsal, and a sorry weariness that surely said all and was done with it 2 album cycles ago.
Predictably, the middle “Concealing Fate” sextet is the standout material. But we more or less were given access to that last year. Nonetheless, this is a noticeably punchier sound for the EP tracks, complete with a flavorful (and always audible) bass thump and saturated guitar tone (thankfully, the yawn-worthy lack of low end in a thrasher like “Deception” on the EP edition has been given its due heft here). The six movement mini epic also possesses a palpable spontaneity and conviction in execution that is mercilessly absent in the beginning and ending thirds – Singer Dan Tompkins can be heard to wrinkle the face a bit more with the soulful belting of “Acceptance” and “Origin”‘s more memorable sections, taking more license with the material (throaty wailing aside); moments such as these are a reminder that a great portion of this musical landscape is not, perhaps, a stylish tundra, but gray ectoplasm waiting to be formed into something painterly or at least artful. The abundance of aesthetic is drastically without the dramatic control of dynamics that once made TesseracT a band worthy of being on anyone’s radar.
The reverse embodied between One and, say, Periphery (did you really think this was going to be the first review you’ve read that did not mention that specific Baltimore outfit?) is that these tracks have seemingly been preserved in formaldehyde whereas the latter’s used the momentum of their impending release to impact larger than anyone expected. “Eden” distills TesseracT’s trademark affected clean tone pluckings (another element that has ruthlessly been re-appropriated thanks to the genre’s vultures) with a fade that anyone could miss; no, One is not a wholly sterile contribution, but it seems to have understated and lost its grasp of the substance that propagated an interest for this release in the first place.