Tesseract

Perspective

01. Perfection
02. April
03. Origin
04. Dream Brother
05. Eden 2.0

[05/22/12]
[Century Media Records]

Coming out of the gate strong with their debut record One last year, Tesseract became progressive metal darlings, touring the world and playing shows with the likes of Periphery, Between the Buried and Me, Animals as Leaders, and Devin Townsend Project. Without a doubt, they were set to reach the upper echelons of the genre, with One hitting up more than a couple of our year-end best of lists. Of course, the year wasn’t without its troubles; the fanbase was divided when vocalist Daniel Tompkins left the band late in the year and was quickly replaced by former Sky Eats Airplane vocalist Elliot Coleman, leaving many to speculate on the future of the band. As indignant as it may have seemed, it isn’t hard to imagine why so many were frustrated. After all, the vocal prowess of Tompkins was undoubtedly a major factor of what made One such a glorious and passionate record. It almost goes without saying, but Elliot has some big shoes to fill. In that regard, all eyes and ears will be falling on Tesseract’s first outing with Elliot in the form of an acoustic-inspired EP, appropriately titled Perspective.

The big question surrounding Perspective is whether or not Elliot “fits” with the established Tesseract sound and if he can perform the material from One with due justice. If anything, Perspective should clear all doubts, as the atmosphere created with the acoustic instruments lends well to Elliot’s soulful voice. Even in the non-acoustic ‘Eden 2.0‘, Elliot shines and gives the song a brand new touch. While there are listeners that may find that some of Dan’s passionate touch is lost as Elliot sings Concealing Fate‘s “chorus” of sorts a bit differently on ‘Origin‘ to match his own range and tone, having the task of selling a performance of lyrics and melodies that he had no connection with isn’t exactly easy. (EDIT: According to Elliot, ‘Origin’ was done in a higher key, which is the cause of the note change, in which case, the previous sentence is completely null – JR.) He does improve on the source material in some aspects though, most notably the “pay the fool with life…” bridge later on in the same track in a way that raises goosebumps. Truly, Tesseract’s vocal duties are in capable hands with Elliot.

On a musical front, the acoustic instruments breathe a new life into these modern classics. The atmosphere that Tesseract is known for transitions quite well to a more stripped back sound, and it feels natural. Many bands jump into acoustic performances and they can feel forced and unfitting, but this is a sound that works wonderfully for the group. In fact, it would be a sore disappointment should the band not incorporate more acoustic guitar and piano into their repertoire. While Tesseract have certainly already achieved greatness and established their unique sound in a genre known for churning out a few dead-end copycats and one-trick ponies, regularly incorporating these instruments into their music could widen their horizon exponentially. While epic Opethian tracks with prominent piano and acoustic sections might be far-reaching speculation, Tesseract are more than capable of the task, and the diversity would be wholly welcomed.

The EP also features the Jeff Buckley classic ‘Dream Brother’, which Tesseract covers with grace. Upon hearing the original, it’s no surprise that Tesseract are big fans; Jeff’s penchant for haunting, moody atmosphere and twinkling guitar melodies laid the blueprint for not only Tesseract’s musical qualities, but for Elliot Coleman’s vocal style, which has been compared to Jeff Buckley long before the group covered the track. In that regard, it just feels natural that on Perspective, the group pays their homage to the late singer/songwriter and practically makes the song their own.

Rounding out the EP is the non-acoustic ‘Eden 2.0’, which was released as a single late last year to give audiences a taste of how Elliot handles the band’s material. ‘Eden‘ is scaled back in length and restructured to make the track more radio-friendly and accessible, but the track feels much more lush with many layers and harmonies, making the track sound much bigger on a sonic front. Everyone should be familiar with ‘Eden 2.0‘ by now, and if it isn’t a testament to Elliot’s vocal skill and capability, then nothing is.

As a whole, Perspective does good on the implications of its title; the re-worked tracks feel brand new and establish a whole new realm of possibilities available to Tesseract. Some fans might not be able to get used to Elliot-era Tesseract, but the fanbase will be better off without them standing in the way of progress. At the very least, Perspective works to tie over listeners while the group is hard at work on their sophomore album. If Perspective is meant as a foreshadowing of things to come, the future looks bright for Tesseract.

Tesseract – Perspective gets…

4/5

– JR

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