Concert Review

Tesseract Give Altered State Performance at Mr. Smalls Pittsburgh

The UK Progressive rock band TesseracT returned to Pittsburgh and to North America with the likes of Katatonia, Cult of Luna and Intronaut at Mr. Smalls. Following their dates with Katatonia, TesseracT has announced a headline tour with support being provided by Scale the Summit and Anciients-  These shows kick off October 9th.  

TesseracT described these shows as an, “intense evening of dark powerful prog. It’s so cool to be apart of this bill as all 4 bands create a completely different yet compatible atmosphere.”  And that is exactly what went down as each act brough their unique flavor to the table.  But, TesseracT had that special ingredient that left everyone with a pleased palate and something to savor.  Their unique take on the genre is refreshing and not one that feels overdone (or overcooked if one wants to keep rolling with this food analogy).

TesseracT‘s latest release  Altered State came out earlier this year on Century Media Records.  This is where they began the evening and drew the audience in. Between the moody lighting, crisp and atmospheric sound, and captive audience, TesseracT definitely made their mark on Pittsburgh last night and will be welcome with open arms anytime they come back to our country again.

Altered State‘ is divided into four movements: Of MatterOf MindOf Reality and Of Energy,Altered State‘ represents the transformations that TESSERACT has gone through over the past few years.  The Law of Conservation of Energy states that: In a closed system energy is conserved, nothing is lost. It merely changes from one state to another.

Altered State was produced, mixed, mastered and engineered by TESSERACT guitarist, Acle Kahney, assisted by bassist, Amos Williams at Acle’s 4D Sounds studio, and marks the first full release with new vocalist, Ashe O’Hara.

“The concept behind Altered State is very simple. It is about change, and how life is change. We have been through a very difficult period of time over the last few years. It is a miracle that the band has survived. I feel it is the ability to step back and see everything for what it is (hence the Perspective EP) that has allowed us to get on with life and try to enjoy it. Reality is change…” [TesseracT, 2013]

Formed as a studio project back in 2003 by guitarist Acle Kahney, TesseracT immediately eschewed all well-established notions of what metal should sound like and swiftly became a unique and daring entity. By 2007, Acle had recruited a line-up worthy of his groundbreaking compositions and this new band embarked upon a quest to inject some originality and excitement back into an often myopic and lazy British metal scene. Completed by drummer Jay Postones, guitarist James Monteith, bassist Amos Williams and (between 2006 and 2009) vocalist Abisola Obasanya, TesseracT steadily accrued a devoted fan base and a formidable reputation as one of the most exhilarating and distinctive bands to emerge from the UK in decades. By the time the band signed to Century Media Records, the buzz surrounding them was simply deafening. Obasanya was replaced by new vocalist Daniel Tompkins, and the newly revitalised line-up recorded a debut album, One, which would go on to receive widespread critical acclaim, not least due to the album’s staggering six-part centrepiece Concealing Fate, which brilliantly showcased the band’s pioneering sonic approach and unstoppable arsenal of off-kilter riffs, soaring melodies and disorientating atmospherics. Countless gigs and festival performances in Europe, the US and even India added further weight to the perception that TesseracTwere a band with a glittering future ahead of them; the band’s thrilling live shows proving to be a decisive factor in the rapid expansion of their global support base.

The departure of Tompkins in 2011 could easily have derailed a less focused band than this, but TesseracT barely paused for breath as they recruited American singer Eliot Coleman and recorded the primarily acoustic Perspective EP, which emerged in May 2012 to an effusive response from critics and fans alike. Shortly after, their status as progressive metal’s most fascinating new creative force was very publicly celebrated when TesseracT picked up the Best New Band trophy at 2012’s inaugural Progressive Music Awards in London. Coleman followed in his predecessors’ footsteps by stepping down midway through 2012, but such was the momentum driving the band forwards that it was only a matter of time before they found a suitable replacement. This time round,TesseracT struck gold, discovering Brighton-based vocalist Ashe O’Hara, realising that his extraordinary voice was a perfect fit and immediately diving into the creative process for a second full-length studio album.

“Working with Ashe has been glorious,” says Amos Williams. “His ideas just fit. But, they also enhance and electrify the emotion and mood of the music, a lens that pulls it all into focus. Each track has become a story. For such a young guy, his lyrics have a unique honesty and emotive clarity that resonate hugely with all of us. Considering the bad luck we’ve had in the past, we are very lucky to have discovered such a gem, and in our own back yard, too!”
Due for release on April 27th 2013, Altered State is not just the secondTesseracT album. It is also a valedictory statement from a band that have always followed their own path and aimed higher than the vast majority of their supposed peers. With O’Hara a joyously soulful presence throughout, the new material takes the band’s original blueprint and stretches it to previously unknown limits, adding great space and subtlety to their trademark sound while never neglecting those all-important riffs and moments of melodic incisiveness.

“For whatever reason, we’ve always felt a little out of context to our friends and peers,” says Williams. “I’m sure everyone feels that, but let’s just say we’ve never quite fit. This has been a blessing for us creatively, as it has allowed us a certain freedom. As always, on this album there appears to be a rule of contradictions. Although things are less hectic than before, they are also far more delicate and tricky. The impact is less explosive, but more shattering as a result. Mood, atmosphere, melody, and experiment are the main focus. Although it may have gone off on its own journey, it is still TesseracT somehow.”

Having already tried and tested the new line-up on the road, TesseracTare primed and ready to claim 2013 as their own. With a new album that is certain to have a massive impact in the metal scene and maybe even beyond, this band have never been in a stronger position to shine a light on tomorrow’s limitless possibilities and to continue their bold exploration of music’s innate potential. The future may have arrived but TesseracT are already eyeing that next tantalising horizon…

“As with everything TesseracT, there are of course layers and ‘deeper’ meanings on this album,” Williams concludes. “One of our muses is science. A law of science called the Law of Conservation of Energy states that in a closed system, energy is conserved, nothing is lost. It merely changes from one state to another. The four movements of Altered State – Of Matter; Of Mind; Of Reality; Of Energy – are simple musings on these different stages of change, on both the personal or micro scale of things of our everyday life, but also the macro and universal scale of things.  For TesseracT, life inspires art and we tend to wear our hearts on our sleeves.”

A video for “Singularity”, can be viewed HERE.

All photos @2013 AWELDINGPHOTO and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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