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Tesseract - "Altered State" (CD)

Tesseract - "Altered State" CD cover image

"Altered State" track listing:

1. Of Matter - Proxy
2. Of Matter - Retrospect
3. Of Matter - Resist
4. Of Mind - Nocturne
5. Of Mind - Exile
6. Of Reality - Eclipse
7. Of Reality - Palingenesis
8. Of Reality - Calabi-Yau
9. Of Energy - Singularity
10. Of Energy - Embers

Reviewed by on May 15, 2013

"Not your typical head banging journey, the disc fuses together Meshuggah-esque riffs with a very calm atmosphere and exclusively clean vocals for a ride that’s as wild as it is contemplative."

Joining that class of band that manages to get a new vocalist with pretty much every release, Tesseract has surprisingly come out stronger for it with top-tier new album, “Altered State.” Not your typical head banging journey, the disc fuses together Meshuggah-esque riffs with a very calm atmosphere and exclusively clean vocals for a ride that’s as wild as it is contemplative.

The new front man this time around brings out smooth, clean singing that’s emotional without being whiny and has a wide range, capable of hitting some of the higher notes without going into power metal territory. It unquestionably fits the music, only occasionally dipping into an overly radio-friendly realm that won’t work for all metal fans on songs like “Of Matter – Retrospect.”

“Altered State” is broken out into four different segments, but it flows together incredibly well despite the changes in style. Based on how the sounds ebb and flow, it seems like the band may have written out long 15 minute tracks and then broken them up into two or three segments for each part: “Of Matter,” “Of Mind,” “Of Reality,” and “Of Energy.” The opening track of each segment changes things up significantly from the last grouping of tracks, letting you know you’ve crossed over into a new musical landscape.

This outing from Tesseract is incredibly well-rounded, featuring a host of spacey and atmospheric sounds that weave into heavy and technical parts. While a more laid-back experience overall, the album is not without crazy head banging moments. Bands like Anathema or Thomas Giles are a good baseline for anyone to decide if they can deal with this level of calm, although the heavy moments definitely come fast and furious from time to time.

Songs like “Proxy” and “Exile” have the repeating chord djent feel, with lots of bass and chugging guitar, but “Altered States” is more of a prog journey overall, going through endless transitions, and even throwing in some jazzy sax on one track. Fans of 3 or Dream Theater in particular will find plenty to love, but the appeal on this release is quite wide, reaching to fans of heavier music who like a softer interlude now and then and vice versa.

Highs: Great clean vocal work, proggy transitions, and a dash of heaviness.

Lows: The lack of extreme vocals is noticeable, and it may be a bit too calm overall to work for many underground metal fans.

Bottom line: An exploration of how clean singing and atmospheric music can fuse with heavy and technical guitar work for unexpectedly awesome results.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)