TesseracT: 'Altered State' roundtable review


TesseracT's sophomore album 'Altered State' has been out for a while in the meantime. We meant to publish this roundtable review sooner, but as you can see it is our most extensive review yet, and unfortunately it took a lot longer than expected to get it ready for publication. We will be taking some measures in the future to reduce the length of these pieces.

Nevertheless, we hope that some of you will still find it interesting. Perhaps it will be read in a different way, now that most of you have had the time to familiarise yourself with the album. Let us know your thoughts!

Our discussion is divided into seven sections. Scroll down to the end if you're interested in the scores. In the unlikely event that you aren't familiar with TesseracT yet, check out some of the songs and videos that are interspersed in the text.

The participants of this roundtable review are:

Francis Boulanger-Côté - xCessivePressure
Sander Dieleman - benanne
Pieterjan Fiers - static07
Alex Irias Ochoa - Alex93
Alex Khomenko - Clarity
Rob Watson - Zyglrob

I. Introduction

How familiar are you with 'One' and the 'Concealing Fate' EP, or even Fellsilent, Acle Kahney's previous band?

Alex93: I'm pretty familiar with both bands. I have listened to TesseracT since 2010, and Fellsilent a little bit after that.

xCessivePressure: I'm not very familiar with TesseracT. I've heard their albums a couple of times because a lot of people were talking about them, but I never really liked anything they've done before. I'm not familiar at all with Fellsilent.

Clarity: I've been following TesseracT since they released 'Concealing Fate' and of course I've heard 'One'. But I didn't hear their demos or anything they released before that. I'm also quite familiar with Fellsilent.

benanne: I've been listening to TesseracT since, I think it was 2006. There were some clips on their website, the one with that sax solo among others. I discovered them and Fellsilent around the same time.

static07: I actually heard TesseracT and Fellsilent long before I knew what djent was. I started listening to Fellsilent, then a couple of months later I heard Acle had a new band, and since then I've been listening to TesseracT.

Zyglrob: For me, it's the same as static07. I've been listening to them since 2010. They were the first band of the "new wave" of djent that I've listened to (not including bands like Meshuggah or Textures because they predate the djent explosion that came around that time). I heard 'Concealing Fate' and it started from there.

What direction were you expecting for this album before listening to it?

Alex93: Ever since I heard the 'Nocturne' single a couple of months ago, I expected more or less the same direction they took with 'One', because honestly, Ashe O'Hara sounds very similar to Dan Tompkins. That's not a bad thing, by the way.

xCessivePressure: I didn't really expect anything because I wasn't familiar with them.

Clarity: I expected them to go in the same direction as before, no big changes.

static07: I hoped there would be more guitar-centric moments, more riff-based, like how it was before on 'One', but I expected it to be more focused on Ashe's vocals. This was to be expected because on 'Concealing Fate' and 'One', the songs were pretty much written before they had a definite singer. Now they have one which made the writing process different.

benanne: I didn't expect it to sound different since they've gone through two vocalists before both albums. I don't think I had any particular expectations as to which stylistic direction they were going in. I expected it to be good, and that's it.

Zyglrob: I expected it to be quite different, because Elliot Coleman didn't do a lot of harsh vocals either and Ashe has completely got rid of them. I thought it would be more focused on a down-tempo, refined version of the songs on 'One', but with maybe less of the technical stuff. Some of the things on the album were unexpected, like the 70's prog and the random funk that dropped in, which was quite awesome, so it was a bit different from what I thought.

What were your initial thoughts on the album after one listen?

Alex93: I thought it was very concise and that they took a very proggy direction which I really liked. I also liked how Ashe fits with the band.

xCessivePressure: I was really, really amazed about the quality of the album. That's pretty much it.

Clarity: It's hard to say. At first I though the album went by very fast and I didn't discern any of the songs, so I didn't really pay attention to any tracks or moments in particular.

benanne: After one listen I thought: "Damn this is really good!", so I suppose it met my expectations. It took me a few listens to get all the intricacies, but I was convinced straight away.

static07: To be honest, on the first listen I didn't really pay much attention to it, I had it on in the background. My first impression was what I expected it to be: really well-thought out, awesome, and through-the-roof production value.

Zyglrob: I agree with the points which most of you made. The first time I listened to it, the first thing that really shook me was the improvement in production. On 'One' I think it was a bit flat at times, and a bit underwhelming as to the melodic elements of the album. The bass and drums could flow quite well but there wasn't quite that much dynamism about them, they were quite unvarying in their volume and in their dynamics. On this album they really stepped this up, and it's one of the best things about the album in my opinion.

I listened to it all the way through on the first listen and I sort of had to stop what I was doing and listen to it straight away. That's how much I was impressed by it. Over time my opinion started to change a bit and I've come to realize which bits I like and dislike.

II. Vocals and vocalists

Have you heard any material with the band's first two vocalists, Julien Perrier or Abisola Obasanya?

Alex93: The earliest vocalist I've heard is Dan Tompkins.

static07: I've heard just enough to know how different the vocalists were before Dan.

xCessivePressure: Only the names of Dan and Elliot ring a bell in my head, so I can't really comment.

Clarity: I've heard the vocalists before Dan but it was quite a while ago, so I don't remember much.

benanne: Did they actually have any material available with Juilien?

Zyglrob: I'm not sure if it's still around actually, it might have been taken down. I think they did have some on SoundClick or on Sevensting.org.

benanne: All the stuff I've heard was already with Abi.

Zyglrob: I haven't really heard anything with Juilien either. I've heard some of Abi's stuff and like Alex said, it is pretty different.

An old version of 'Concealing Fate - Part 1' featuring Abisola Obasanya on vocals.

There are no harsh vocals on this album. Ashe has obviously brought his own style to TesseracT from his previous band Voices From The Fuselage. Do you think this is a refreshing change?

Alex93: I really liked the way he sings throughout the whole album. I didn't pay much attention to the fact that he didn't use any harsh vocals because I felt that what he did fit the music well. Maybe another singer could have used some harsh vocals, and it would have fit just as well. It just worked with what he had in mind, I guess. For me it really paid off.

xCessivePressure: I think the clean singing only gave a good sense of coherence to the album. I feel like there could have been some harsh vocals, but it didn't bother me at all that there weren't.

Clarity: I really enjoyed the clean vocals and I certainly have nothing against them, but I would still welcome some harsh vocals sometimes, it could bring some more variety to the music. Maybe they could also have had guest vocalist to do some harsh vocal parts, since Ashe doesn't do them.

Zyglrob: Were there any particular songs where you thought harsh vocals could have been employed effectively?

Clarity: Not really, maybe some here and there, but I can't point out any specific sections where they could fit better.

benanne: I didn't miss the harsh vocals at all. What they did really fits the music very well. They actually don't need them anymore.

static07: I do miss them a little bit. The thing that really worked for TesseracT was some intensity in the vocal lines with Dan, even though his harsh vocals were... well, not weak, but they were not the grunt or growl we're used to in metal, they were more like heavier scream. Something that Ashe doesn't do at all. I miss that and I really love that. And it's the sort of music that has those few moments to go all out vocally, something Dan did and Ashe doesn't do. I do kind of miss it.

Zyglrob: Ashe has got very different timbres than Dan even though they both sing in a similar style. He has his own way of doing the high parts, his own way of putting the harmonies together. I think that for the most part it worked pretty well, but there were times when it did become sort of 'relentless', and I felt a bit of a kick was needed in the vocals to really give it a bit of "go-forward", especially in the middle of the album.

After a while I've come to miss the old intensity, if you could call it that. I missed the intensity that was on 'One' and 'Concealing Fate'. That's the downside to it, but overall I think it was a good addition and I think they chose their vocalist well. If they continue with Ashe they will continue to make good music.

Is there a good balance between the vocals and the instrumental work?

Alex93: I guess some people could argue he sings too much, maybe. For me it was okay, I really liked what he did on the album. I really like the balance between the vocals and the rest of the music but I think this also comes from the improved production.

xCessivePressure: I really don't think he sings too much. There were a lot of clean vocals but, as I said, they were really well thought out.

Clarity: I think they put too much emphasis on the vocals. The album as a whole is not balanced because the vocal parts outweigh instrumental parts. This isn't always a bad thing, but there's still too much emphasis on the vocals.

benanne: I thought it was fine.

static07: I don't think he sings too much, but what I do think is that the moments where he didn't sing were not as interesting as they could have been. They didn't switch off the intensity of the instruments versus the vocals.

Zyglrob: I think there were some songs where they got the balance exactly right, it was effective and they sound really amazing. But then there were other songs in where they draw the vocals out for to long or, where they didn't add enough original, fresh content on the instrumental side of it to make it interesting while the vocals weren't there.

In this album the vocals carry the main melody throughout pretty much all of it, aside for a couple places where there's a sax solo, a guitar lead or a random bit of slap bass. I think they've had enough time to think about what they would do with this album, so I guess it's down to personal taste. Still, they could have added more originality to the instrumental breaks, given their technical abilities.

Live footage recorded at Euroblast Festival vol. 8 in Cologne, Germany last year.

The vocal melodies and harmonization are pretty complex, but the lyrics are quite simple and the themes are pretty direct. What do you think about this?

benanne: I haven't paid attention to the lyrics whatsoever. I remember the "wake me up" bit because it's so catchy, but that's basically the only lyric from the album that I can recall.

static07: That would be the same for me.

xCessivePressure: I haven't paid attention to the lyrics as much as I would have wanted to. 'Nocturne' is pretty much the only song I've read the lyrics for and yes, they are kind of simplistic, but I'm not sure if that is the case throughout the whole album.

benanne: Just to clarify: I'm not saying the lyrics are bad, I tend not to pay much attention to lyrics in general.

Alex93: I think I can't actually form an opinion about this yet.

Zyglrob: Right, you think you need a bit longer to digest the lyrics as well as the music?

Alex93: Well, to actually listen to them, because I can't understand when people sing most of the time.

Zyglrob: The vocals are hook-driven, quite poppy and they have a basic song-writing approach, which I think works well given the complexity of some of the music. Quite a few of the melodies were quite simple and stick in your head. That's a good thing, but I think it gets a bit too much after a while. It makes me think they could have come up with something that was a little bit less like the previous song, or they could have bent the rules a little bit and thought "Why don't we change it for this one moment?".

When you're composing music this has a big effect, because if you change just one moment and then you move back into the next thing gradually, you bring in a new fresh idea but you work your way back to the original. That's a really good thing to use and I think they could have used it more often for the vocals in this album. Then, again, I guess that's down to personal opinion.

There are a lot of established, talented vocalists in djent right now. Where does Ashe stand among them?

Alex93: For me he holds his own ground pretty well. I think singers like Spencer Sotelo (Periphery) or Robert Luciani (Means End, ex-Vildhjarta) are too extravagant. Not that that's a bad thing, they both fit well in their respective bands. Ashe is more like a 'meat and potatoes kind' of guy, but he's very, very talented, he works well with what he has and he did an outstanding job in my opinion.

xCessivePressure: I really think that Ashe deserves as much recognition as some of the big names, because he is amazing and you can really feel the emotions behind his voice. He's really unique.

Clarity: I wouldn't say that he's extremely unique. I think he is more on the mellow side of metal. He is pretty good at what he is doing, in his own way.

benanne: I think it's pretty much the best that TesseracT could have hoped to find after losing four other vocalists.

Zyglrob: Yeah, it's quite amazing that they managed to have any continuity given the vocalists they've had.

benanne: I'm also very happy that he doesn't try to be Dan Tompkins. He has his own style, which admittedly is more similar to Dan's than Elliot Coleman's was.

static07: I think that all of the vocalists we've talked about just do whatever they want. They don't follow any rules, in contrast to some other genres of metal where all vocalists do pretty much the same thing. Ashe doesn't either, but he's not so different from Dan, so I wouldn't say that he stands amongst those guys in terms of uniqueness. He definitely does with regards to his talent. He really is very talented.

Alex93: I've always felt that TesseracT's vocals, and this applies to both Ashe's and Dan's, were more solemn compared to, let's say, Spencer Sotelo's. He's very quirky in my opinion and can be zany at times. TesseracT's vocals sound more serious, in a way.

Zyglrob: I know what you mean. Periphery take an idea and then they push it around in a thousand ways and put it in a one-minute song, and then they'll move onto another idea for the next minute. It works well. When you listen to it, you don't think "Oh… they really should have stuck with this idea", it just sort of flows past you really fast. Like you said, it's kind of "bombastic".

TesseracT is the opposite of that, especially on this album. They really take it slow. I wouldn't say solemn, I'd say 'reflective' is the word. I think that Ashe fits with the reflective side of TesseracT. xCessivePressure said he gets a lot of emotions into his vocals and I'd definitely agree with that. And as static07 said that really adds to his talent, he's a really talented vocalist and he has managed to convey what he's talking about very emotively and very effectively, and he combines with the music very well.

But I would say that, compared to vocalists like Robert Luciani or Matthieu Romarin from Uneven Structure, I feel that they're slightly ahead of him in terms of innovativeness and technicality. Both of those guys can pull off amazing cleans and amazing screams in the same song and both have a very different approach to singing. So I'd argue that they're the two most interesting vocalists in djent at the moment, but I think Ashe fits with this album very well and I think he will continue to fit with TesseracT very well.

'Of Matter - Retrospect', track 2 off the album.

III. Progress, instrumentation

What do you think about the band's progression on this album compared to their previous material?

Zyglrob: The album is very reflective and calm, even calmer than 'One' perhaps, with less obvious djent and tech-metal influences. It's more of a call to the prog and stadium rock of the 70's and late 60's, even the odd nod to 80's funk and disco.

Alex93: I think they really did a good job. Even with the differences with 'One', it's a very nice progression, I actually couldn't hear the 80's funk and disco, but that's probably because I seldom listen to that kind of music.

Zyglrob: Fair enough. There's one bit I was thinking about in the track 'Eclipse' that's really funky, if you've listened to funk then it would just click with you. If you've listened to someone like Victor Wooten, it's sort of this bass style mixed with light melody.

xCessivePressure: I wasn't really following the band before this album, but I think it's the best use of their talent, I really learned to love TesseracT. It's really an incredible work in my opinion, and even if it's not something I expected, I really enjoyed it and I was really surprised it turned out the way it did.

Clarity: For me the instrumental part of this album was not as interesting compared to 'One'. I wouldn't call it simplistic, but there's too much emphasis on vocals, the instrumental side is not pronounced enough. I think it could be more dynamic or diverse.

benanne: I'm very happy that they didn't feel the need to stick with the sound of their previous album, nor did they feel the need to completely change everything, and then sort of denounce their previous style or something. They just really don't care about belonging to any particular scene or genre. Some people have argued that this album can barely be called metal, I guess there's something to say for that, but they don't care. The instrumentation on this album is very measured and concise, there's not one note or layer too many, it's very meticulous. Someone said it sounds "simpler" than 'One'. I feel that they took their sound and removed all the "embellishments", maybe?

Zyglrob: It's just generally a refinement of their sound.

benanne: Yeah that's how it struck me, it's very mathematical, it's like they precisely found the sound they wanted.

Zyglrob: I wouldn't agree that it's totally meticulous, there are parts where I felt they should have changed it up a little bit more, or throw in some throwbacks to the more technical side of 'One', because there are times when it's a bit too reflective, it sort of dwells on itself for a bit too long.

static07: I didn't make the connection to 70's prog, but it felt much slower, a bit like with sludge or stoner music, like Mastodon and Queens of the Stone Age, they have that same sort of drive behind it. It keeps going, but it's never fast and technical. What makes this album really work is the tempo, it really keeps going, compared to 'One', where there are many shifts in tempo.

Does the album need a bit more 'grit' to make it stand out from other bands?

Alex93: For me, the melodies are perfect, with the rest of the music.

xCessivePressure: Same for me, I think it was really well done.

Clarity: Well as I said, while this approach works, sometimes I felt it needs more dynamism and aggression.

benanne: I think the last thing TesseracT need is grit, the polished sound that they have achieved on this album works really well.

static07: I do miss a bit of intensity and technicality, but, that being said, what they've done with this album, this shift in their sound, really gives them their unique sound. I feel like pretty much every other 'djent' band has been so heavily inspired by bands like Periphery and TesseracT, and if they had just kept on doing 'One' they would have been just one of those bands. With this album they made a statement, "We're not just one of those bands, we are one of the bands".

Zyglrob: I agree with you that this album sets them apart from the rest of 'djent' quite substantially. When we did the Disperse roundtable review, we talked about them taking a new direction on 'djent' with their more proggy approach. This is the other side of the coin to the prog approach to djent, rather than lots of jamming and shredding around and soloing like Dream Theater, this is the opposite of that, this is planning it out and making sure everything is placed in exactly the right way.

At times though, this approach becomes a little bit tiring for me. I think that having music completely laid out like this isn't really the way it should be, because life's not really like that, and music should mirror that in a way. There are some parts where they could've taken more of a chance, like, thrown in a brief solo. That's why I liked the sax solo by Chris Barretto (Ever Forthright), it felt more organic, and less as though it had been written out by someone in an office somewhere, just making sure it was exactly how it should be. If there had been a little more room for things like that, it would've had more of an appeal for me.

The somewhat controversial music video for 'Of Energy - Singularity', track 9 off the album.

Speaking of the sax, did that work well? Should have they used it a bit more?

Alex93: I think it was a really nice change, hearing that sax. I think it was very well done, it was used just the right amount. If they had used it more frequently, it might have run the risk of becoming 'gimmicky'. It was used like a chef uses spices, in small amounts, but it really spiced up the album.

Zyglrob: I thought that was a reasonable comparison, they used it very tastefully.

xCessivePressure: I thought the saxophone was really interesting, and yes, I would have liked to hear more of it, but not too much. There could have been more solo parts, guitar solos maybe? I really can't remember one at all, so when the sax solo comes in, it really shines, but there coud have been more.

Clarity: I really liked the concise use of the sax on this album, I think it works well and they shouldn't use it more unless they plan to go in a more jazzy direction.

benanne: It was a guest spot, so it doesn't really make sense to have more of it, but even if Chris Barretto was a permanent member, I don't think this album needs more sax. It's kind of a break in the album.

Zyglrob: Why do you think to have it at the end of the album then? Because the end of the album sort of defines where they want to take their sound and where the band is at right now, because you usually remember the end and the beginning of an album.

benanne: I thought it came at the right moment.

static07: I was quite surprised by it, mostly because of how well it fits into their sound. I'm quite intrigued by the idea of them doing this kind of thing more often. I'm not sure if it would work well, but i'd love to hear TesseracT with more jazzy influences, because I do like jazz and I listen to it quite often.

benanne: Maybe not just with the saxophone, but they could do this kind of thing more often, with other instruments or other musicians. It creates a breaking point in the music.

Zyglrob: One of my favourite albums for things like this is SikTh's debut album, because they have these two breaks in the music called 'Emerson part 1' and 'Emerson part 2' where one of them is playing the piano. It gives you a lot of time to reflect on the music that has come before. Even though that's not really what this track 'Calabi-Yau' was all about, the sax there at the end is very calm compared to the solo that came before and it's a great contrast. It gives you time to reflect on the journey that you've been on for this album, because it is a concept album I think.

What do you think about the bass?

Zyglrob: I think they should have brought it out a little bit more. Amos is a really talented bass player and plays a big part in defining TesseracT's sound. He has sort of a bass solo towards the end of 'Singularity'.

Alex93: I agree.

xCessivePresure: I thought it was well done. There were quite some parts where there are only drums and bass and I really think that this was really intelligently composed. It was well used, I think. The saxophone was well used too, but one thing that did bother me about it was the ending. It wasn't the best ending there could have been.

Clarity: I think it works fine as it is. I don't think they needed to bring it out more.

benanne: Yeah, it works fine as it is.

static07: I don't think they need more bass solos because Amos drives the whole album. You can hear him all the time, compared to most other bands where the bassist doesn't take this foreground role in the music.

Zyglrob: I agree with you there. I just wanted to gauge what you thought about that because I felt like the vocals were quite dominating in pretty much every single song. I wanted to know if you thought any of the instruments should have been given more of a chance with the melody. I thought they stripped the balance pretty well for most of it, but there were some parts where it could have been changed a bit more.

The band's most recent tour update video.

IV. Innovation and production

There have been some really innovative and unusual releases in djent. Do you think that this new album is in the same league as 'Måsstaden', 'Polymorphic Code' or 'Februus', for example?

Alex93: I wouldn't say it's a very novel album, probably because nowadays it's a very hard thing to do, especially with the albums you already mentioned. I remember when I listened to 'Måsstaden' and 'Februus', I was blown away because it was nothing like what I had heard before in this style of music.

benanne: I think that the comparison isn't really fair, because this album is a really good album, but it's not on the same level as the albums listed here in terms of innovativeness, simply because these are all debut albums. TesseracT's album on this list was 'One'.

Alex93: That's a very good point, but I still think they managed to be innovative. I think many people will listen to it and still think that TesseracT is something completely different.

xCessivePressure: For the band it was really innovative in my opinion.

Clarity: I also wouldn't call this album innovative. I think they made their music even more accessible than it was before.

static07: I don't think they should have innovated more with this album or any album. Like benanne said, we know how TesseracT sounds. They helped shape the sound of djent in general, and even though they are one of the main bands in the scene, they still managed to put out an album that stands on its own. It's quite different from everything else, so in that sense they are quite innovative.

Zyglrob: I agree that debut albums are a way to make sure presence is felt, stand your ground with your sound and make sure people know what you're about. But I wouldn't say that this album couldn't have been more innovative. It needs that kind of magic spark for me.

What do you think about the production?

Zyglrob: I think it's incredible, as I mentioned before. It's probably the biggest improvement from 'One'.

Alex93: It was the first thing I noticed, ever since 'Nocturne' came out. I always thought the production on 'One' was very raw. The drums sound so raw and so loud, and the guitar is very dry. On this album it's definitely improved a lot, everything is more balanced, and the guitars sound less dry and less flat.

xCessivePressure: As I mentioned earlier I'm not very familiar with their previous material, but based on what I've heard the improvement is really noticeable.

Clarity: I think the production is splendid and I wouldn't expect anything else from Acle.

benanne: I agree, the production on this album is very calculated and mathematical, very meticulously fine-tuned.

static07: The production is through the roof. Acle has his own production company, 4D Sounds, so it was to be expected that it is really well balanced out.

Zyglrob: It is a huge step forward for him, he's clearly spent a lot of time on it. For example, the guitar tone on this album is very unique, it's got the real crunch of 70's rock and roll, like early Led Zeppelin (I think he listens to them a lot), but it still maintains that metallic "twang" sound of djent. I don't think I've heard hat kind of guitar tone before and it's a really far cry from the kind of tones Misha Mansoor of Periphery uses, which are also very popular among other djent artists.

The drums on this album are really big: the kick sound is really well produced, and I like the way they made the snare and cymbal sound. They clearly miced them really well when they recorded them. The bass is also really good. The thing I like most about it is that it sounds like a combination of the depth and "twang" that Meshuggah had on 'Chaosphere' or 'Koloss', but it still manages to be really dry and poppy when he does his slap bass and his funk stuff.

Lyric video for 'Of Matter - Resist', track 3 off the album.

V. Favourite songs

What's your favourite song on the album?

Alex93: Anything out of the 'Of Matter' movement and probably 'Eclipse'.

xCessivePressure: For me it would be 'Resist'.

Zyglrob: 'Resist' is really reflective and it gives the vocals a lot of time to develop and stuff, that's quite cool.

Clarity: For me it's definitely 'Resist'. It's probably the only song that I can easily pick out, it stands out very much.

benanne: I would go with 'Nocturne', 'Singularity' and 'Proxy' in that order.

static07: Since it's a progressive album it's hard to find out where one song stops and the next one starts. While listening to this album I didn't really pay much attention to what song was playing, but when I looked I think I noticed 'Eclipse' and 'Calibi Yau'. So I'd say that the whole of 'Of Reality' is my favourite part of the album.

How does the album flow as a whole? Do you have a particular preference for the first or the second half?

Alex93: It's very consistent but I always feel like the first movement is the strongest part of the album. They go to lower tempos in the middle of the album and I'm not a fan of that, but I still like it. I remember reading that Century Media post saying that TesseracT had turned in a 51 minute song as their next album, or something along those lines, so I thought there were going to be no breaks at all.

xCessivePressure: I think the album flows well. I agree with Alex, the first two movements 'Of Matter' and 'Of Mind' is quite intense, but with 'Of Reality' and 'Of Energy' it slows down a bit.

Zyglrob: Does anyone else think that there's a moment where the album starts to lose momentum a bit?

Clarity: I think it's quite consistent. I also thought it would be more monolithic, because it was said to be one song initially.

benanne: The album didn't strike me as one long song at all, the movements stand on their own. Despite being 51 minutes in length, it feels quite short. I would have liked it to be a little longer, but that's a very subjective thing. Some albums are great at 30 minutes but this one feels short for some reason.

static07: I do think it flows well. It does slow down a bit in the middle, but I found that to be a good thing. If the second half of the album was more of the same, I fear it might have been a tad boring. I like the second half of the album most. Even though I wish the album was more like 'One', the second part is the more refreshing.

Zyglrob: The first four tracks really grip me, they really do fly by. I wouldn't have thought it was twenty minutes at all. They're really well written, they have a huge go-forward to them and they form one continuous song. But then, 'Exile', the fifth song I really have crumbs with, because it is about one idea for too long, it doesn't really go anywhere for five minutes. The last section of 'Nocturne', where it goes into sort of a reflective dreamy section works really well. 'Exile' however really needed a lot more kick and originality to it.

The sort of track I'm thinking of is perhaps something by Textures, something like 'Storm Warning' where they really try to give the song a lot of go-forward. I think it needed something like that after 'Nocturne' to keep the album moving through the middle. As I listened more and more I found myself wanting to skip 'Exile' and move on to 'Eclipse' straight away.

'Of Mind - Exile', track 5 off the album.

VI. The Future

TesseracT are signed to a major label, they have two great records out and apparently now they have a stable lineup. How far have they come since the 'Concealing Fate' EP and how much farther can they go with their music?

Alex93: They've definitely made progress, which was probably a challenge considering all the stuff they've gone through in the last few years. I hope Ashe sticks around, it would be a shame if he left. With all the vocalist changes it was hard to remain consistent but they have managed to do that.

xCessivePressure: I think they've improved a lot, even if I didn't know them very well before. They really managed to get my attention. Their lineup right now is perfect. I think the new album will appeal to other people, like me, that weren't really into their music before. Their new vocalist brings a new perspective on the music.

Clarity: They've made quite some progress production and composition-wise. I look forward to seeing what they will come up with next.

benanne: This album is definitely more accessible than their previous one. They might now be able to appeal to the larger part of the progressive metal demographic.

static07: I'm not really sure what this album will mean for TesseracT. On the one hand it is indeed more accessible, but on the other hand I'm pretty sure there will be quite a few first-hour TesseracT fans that will not enjoy this album as much, because of the lack of harsh vocals, because of its 'conciseness', because the production sounds less raw, or because there is less technicality.

Zyglrob: I think this album has a really huge commercial appeal. Before, their music was very much centered around around the riff and what the guitars could do. Now it's more about what the band can do as a whole. That's a very different way of writing and I think it opens a lot more doors for them to appeal to different types of fans and people who like other genres of music.

This album is very "stadium rock-y". In that way it's very accessible. When I hear 'Proxy' for example, there's a big riff halfway through and I can really imagine a guitarist sort of swaggering around the stage. Not that Acle would do that, he's kind of the opposite of that. But you can imagine if another band had written it, they would be doing that with huge lights in a massive arena somewhere. That's what the music sounds like to me, it's kind of weird for me to hear that from a djent band, but I think it works well.

In the future I think I'd like to hear something different though. I don't think this sound can really carry them that far in the scene of metal, it will get very one-dimensional quite quickly. That said, I'm sure they will find room for progression on the next album.

static07: I completely agree with you about the "stadium rock" thing, but I don't think there's that much of an audience for that anymore. It's not as big as it was 20-30 years ago, so in that sense I don't think it's going to open a lot of doors for them.

VII. The verdict

Alex93: I'm going to go with 9/10. People always comment about how we pick apart an album and then give it a great score, but I still think it deserves a 9.

xCessivePressure: I'll go with 9/10 as well. It's one of the best album's I've heard in my life. I really, really liked this album and I still do. I'd also like to mention that the drum work on the album is really impressive.

Clarity: I'll give it 8/10, it definitely gets better with every listen.

benanne: I haven't had that much time to listen to music lately, so I've only heard the album about 8 or 9 times. It's a bit early to hand out the nines and the tens already so I'm going to give it 8/10 as well, with quite some potential for growth still.

static07: I really liked the album, the musicianship is absolutely astonishing. But compared to 'One' I didn't get that goosebump feeling while listening to it, I loved 'One' and 'Concealing Fate' more on the very first listen. So I'm going to go with 7/10. It might still grow on me however.

Zyglrob: Playing dangerously. I'm going with two out of ten. No, not really.

Alex93: What a waste of time!

Zyglrob: I think it's a really cool album. The overall mood is very nice and there were parts, like the seventh song I think, where you can really recognize the parts they took from 'One'. But then you can also hear the massive progression they've made, the refinement of their sound and the more reflective side of their music that they've allowed to shine through on this album. I think it works very well. Having said that, 'Exile' is still bugging me, so I'm going to give it 8/10 as well.

'Altered State' is out now on Century Media Records. It is available for purchase from CMDistro and iTunes.

The band will be touring extensively throughout the rest of the year. Check out an overview of upcoming tour dates below.

Thanks to the reviewers, and in particular to Rob Watson for taking the lead. Thanks also to James Monteith and Century Media Records.

Check out our previous roundtable reviews:
Meshuggah: 'Koloss' roundtable review
Veil Of Maya: 'Eclipse' roundtable review
Monuments: 'Gnosis' roundtable review
The Algorithm: 'Polymorphic Code' roundtable review
Disperse: 'Living Mirrors' roundtable review
Benea Reach: 'Possession' roundtable review

What's your take on 'Altered State'?
Do you agree or disagree with the points raised by the reviewers? Share your insights in the comments!

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Cool roundtable, interesting thoughts. This album grew on me. At first I was a bit disappointed, every song sortof flowed almost too well. Didnt seem dynamic enough. But after about 10 listens I've come to really like it, especially the first half. I also wish their were more technical parts, and some harsh vocals here and there, but ah well, I'm sure the the album came out exactly how they wanted it to.

I really hope you guys'll do a Corelia roundtable when the albums out! Laughing out loud

That could be interesting, although it would probably take up as much time as doing a new album instead, so then doing the new album is a bit more interesting for us and has a bigger return on investment, so to speak (i.e. more people will bother to read it). So since our time is limited we'll probably stick to new albums Smile

Oh. I see. I didn't realize this whole review was as dated. Noted. Nothing meant.

Edit: As I was scrolling back up this page, I noticed the other reviews. An epiphany. On select reviews of specific albums, why not an updated "Roundtable Review"? How has a release that has been reviewed, stood the test of time? Have the year( s ) changed your stance/opinion? *Just an idea*


well, you should consider that we listened to the album before it came out, and the review was done shortly after it did, so we didn't really have a chance at the time, we could've done it after the fact, but this review has more than enough content as it is... Smile

@_illini - Agreed. I got the instrumental disc with the vocal one and, it's money! My take on some of these reviewers are, they could have searched out or requested the instrumental disc. It would of made their assessments more comprehensive and complete.

Other than that, another awesome review. I adore this album so, I was in complete disagreement with some of the points that were made. Which is another reason these reviews are cool. It keeps the discussion going, about the band, the release, long after the people have had the opportunity to listen to it.

Cheers fellows! Beer

I guess everyone has different tastes when it comes to this album -- my favorite tracks were actually Exiled and Palingenesis

Did anyone listen to the instrumental version? The deluxe album came with it. You can hear additional sounds that were overshadowed by Ashe. Also, Paul Wagonner of Between The Buried and Me played a solo at the end of 'Nocturne'.