The British Progressive Metal outfit Tesseract have been on my radar since their very inception way back when in the the early naughties. I've caught many a live show over the years and heard plenty of their songs. Its only based on a recommendation from a friend that I gave this new record a proper try and I am disappointed to say I walk away with the same lukewarm feeling I've always had for them. Sonder is their fourth full length but a direct record at a shorter thirty six minutes which made it much easier to pick up and spin.
The band toy with the dynamics of heavy and light. On one hand a glistening wash of beauty, haplessly sways above with clean guitars and subtle airy synths. Its mostly led by the clean, soft and vulnerable singing of original front man Daniel Tompkins. Its counterpart is expressed through mathematic manipulations of groove, chunks of sonic sound pronounced through the bolstered Djent tone. It can be somewhat self indulgent at times when its riffs get a little lost in the counter measure of expectation. Mostly though both elements are dynamic and sway in accordance with one another.
Its formula is laid bare from the get go and a couple of strong opening tracks create quite the excitement as an atmosphere of possibility is mustered in the wake of its balancing act between the beauty and chaos. Dark, guzzling passageways of meaty, moments riffs can drop seamlessly into blissful rest with soft pianos, distant rumblings of mechanical thunder and a cloudy choir chiming in the words draw together. This chemistry plays out in various measures before the record hits a snag.
It seems to start around Beneath My Skin but as the album progresses it feels like the best of this dynamic is behind us and little new is offered up. Throughout it all the singing is gorgeous, bordering effeminate as Tompkins finds a passionate expression in his range. The rest of the music doesn't quite follow and I find myself losing interest as the music meanders in itself with the same ideas drawn out to a disappointing close. Its certainly got a great aesthetic and musical construct but as an album it runs out of ideas far to fast. Even at thirty six minutes its best is less than half.
Favorite Track: King, Juno