Released by: Kscope
Release Date: September 15th, 2023
Genre: Prog Metal
Daniel Tompkins (vocals)
Acle Kahney (guitar)
James Monteith (guitar)
Amos Williams (bass)
Jay Postones (drums)
01. Natural Disaster
03. The Grey
06. War Of Being
Five years in the making, this album will surely make your ears happy, and your hands move as your air drum and strum. When you dig into this album you’ll find that it’s not your typical TesseracT you may be used to. There’s more underneath the surface, between the roughness and the softness, time changes, and heavy prog metal and djenty riffs you’ll find your next favorite album.
Singer Daniel Tompkins says, “I think we realized we needed to do something different this time,”
And drummer Jay Postones agrees, “We’ve always tried to punch above our weight, which is important,” adds Postones. “To stretch it and make it look and sound as big as you possibly can, that’s always been important, and particularly with this record because it sounds shitloads better than the stuff we’ve done before!”
Both of them are absolutely on point. I went back and listened to their older material, and this album is harder, heavier, and certainly as impressive as everything this band has put out. I found myself listening to it with a feeling that this has to be an even better live.
The album is being released on September 15th, and their world tour starts in October. All I can say is be prepared for this album to do well amongst fans and the charts. It’s a pinnacle album, and given the state of the world, it’s exactly the album you’ll want.
The album starts with Natural Disaster, setting the tone for the album as a whole. From heavy screams right off the bat to melodic singing to clear rhythm changes and section breakdowns, there’s a lot of territory to cover in this song alone, and it’s nice to hear and feel the song. I like the breakdown around the four-minute mark, it beautifully goes into the ending of the song.
Careening into Echoes, we have a good 4/4 beat that will make your head go up and down. I like the mainly clean vocals mixed with screams. It’s done perfectly, and it feels natural. The drums coming in at 3:18 – oh my. I LOVE this. This song is more “droning” but it’s droning in a way, unlike the djenty Natural Disaster. The notes ring out, the chords play with your emotions and the end of the song gives an unexpected epilogue. Just when you think the song will end it keeps going. It’s a great lead into their lead single The Grey.
So, here we are, their lead single The Grey and if you have heard it you know what to expect. I love all the intricacies of the music in the first chorus. The bass is moving the whole time, at least it feels that way. The kick drum hits just right too, a note to the mix and production on this album, it’s a very clear and clean mix and master! Nothing is left behind, there’s no mud to be heard except when it’s something that’s meant to be as such. The Grey is a pretty good example of what the album does entail. If you like the single you’re going to like the album as a whole. The one thing I could do without is the long outro. For my liking, they could’ve left it at the last guitar note and had a shorter outro by about 30 seconds. Although given this is a somewhat thematic album this common thing is something you get used to.
Legion starts with some great falsetto and range. I like the very succinct staccato in the first part of the song for the first two minutes. Between kick drum precision and bass, playing with the light airy guitar, we are treated to a softer but not too soft TesseracT, reminiscent of their Sonder album until about 3:25 when we get back into the throes of TesseracT 2023. This song is one of my favorites on the album so far. We have a common theme of ending songs on this album that have a nice long fade out into a track that extends out and into the next song. It makes me wonder how they play on doing this live if they’re going to keep that theme going with lighting and stage changes or just end songs when the last notes hit.
Next up is Tender. And true to its name, the song starts tender. With the prog effects like delays and echoes, this song will give you the feeling of an open field and a character thinking about decisions. The interplay of the vocal harmonies is beautiful. This song reminds me of Anathema to a degree. The musical landscape builds and builds and about halfway through the song we hit the top of the hill, a true ballad of a song if one can say that about a band like this. Around the last minute of the song we leave the ballad and hit the heavy for a bit, but that’s okay, it’s a good reminder you’re not listening to a soft album.
We’re at the title track, War Of Being. Measuring in at 11:03 this song is a prog metal beast. The real pinnacle of the album. There are multiple textures to this song, even just 5 minutes in it’s a trip. I know I talk about drums a lot, but the drums on this album, in general, are on point, there’s no question they are more than just a percussion instrument. In this song, they along with the guitars have this almost floating quality but it’s a good kind of floating. I like the instrumentation around the 7-8 minute mark, it has a more progressive feel. After that, we’re in a lullaby sort of valley ready to swell but we stay longer than one might expect. This song ends strong before the guitar outro allows you to breathe calmly again.
Now that we’ve come back to life with a chance to breathe and think, we’re presented with Sirens which has a haunting feel of reverb and other effects. By far the slowest song on the album, but that’s okay, it fits the aesthetic of the song. It’s a softer song, not ballady, but pretty close. With distinct single notes on the guitar for the most part until the end. This song is a ‘close your eyes and transport somewhere else’ kind of tune.
Burden slaps you in the face right off the bat with the bass, a very different feel from Sirens. With no real audible reverb this hits and keeps hitting throughout. The high vocal melody sets this song apart from anything else on this album. I appreciate the lack of major instrumentation at points it allows the listener space within the song to connect in new ways. Around 3:14 we change direction to a more proggy less spacious feel, and the voice changes from the soft light to a heavy tone with a focus on the grit for a bit. There is still a light tone, but it’s mixed in nicely. One of my favorites.
Sacrifice starts almost reminiscent of something you’d find on the latest Sleep Token until about a minute in when the band makes their appearance. This is the second longest song on the album but again, like all their songs, it doesn’t come across with the appearance of length. The change at 3:25ish is attractive to my ears, Then we get to the four-minute mark and it changes to another Burden-style bass line. It’s a quick change but a good one, definitely unexpected. This song flows smoothly despite the many changes found throughout. The consistent sound of the hi-hats makes it easy to follow along. The guitars at the seven-minute mark are as close to a solo as you get on this album, and it’s a nice way to begin the descent of the album. After this point, it reverts to the fade-out, epilogue feel, a nice ending to an album that has the look, feel, texture, and drive of a great prog metal sound.
When I initially listened to the album to get a sense of the landscape I put it on and didn’t give it much thought, like I do all my album reviews, let it sink in a bit before I do the deep dive. What I found was this album is not only easy to listen to, it’s easy to work to, it’s easy to follow along to, and there’s enough variation throughout the sonic landscape that you’ll be able to keep interest the whole time wanting to skip anything. This album is a full album experience, there’s no bad song to listen to. Worth your money to buy, and worth your time to listen and experience.
In the end, Tompkins says, “We’re a modest progressive metal band, but we’ve got big ambitions and we always have. We always strive to get there, and it’s a struggle, but we haven’t lost the enthusiasm for it. We want bigger and better things all the time. This is just the start of it.”
I have a feeling this “modest progressive metal band” is a bit of an underplay, this band has a master understanding of engaging the aural audience members and keeping them hooked. I won’t lie, this album has been on repeat for me, I enjoy it as a whole, and unlike other albums, I get the feeling it won’t lose on the interest meter in a month after I’ve listened to it and broken it down. This is one I’ll be able to come back to and enjoy time and time again.
Written by: Chris Rugowski