Editor’s Note: This is a review for only the audio portion of TesseracT’s Odyssey/Scala.
Few bands in the more modern, groove-oriented scenes of metal have garnered the same level of respect and hype with only two albums quite like the UK’s TesseracT. 2011’s One will probably viewed as one of the cornerstones of djent in the next decade, and 2013’s Altered State succeeded in distancing the band even further from most of their heavier counterparts and peers. The band had ditched screaming and growling altogether and instead let then-new vocalist Ashe O’Hara croon along with the band’s typical ambient Meshuggah-lite style. Now that the band has reunited with original singer Dan Tompkins and toured the world over in support of their last two records, TesseracT has decided to commemorate the end of this period in the band’s history with both a live DVD and CD. Odyssey, being the audio portion of the package, shows a band essentially putting on a clinic on staggering tightness and delivering over a solid hour of generally their best material, though not without a few hiccups.
The setlist is basically ideal at this point in time for the band, as TesseracT have chosen to deliver their two most ambitious pieces (“Concealing Fate” being 6 total parts and “Of Matter” clocking in at over 15 minutes) as the centerpiece of the show. The band is really at their best when each individual is completely honing in on their often hypnotic approach to riffs, and the epic scope of these two suites being mashed together for over half of the performance definitely helps create an environment that is totally the band’s own. Tompkins’ vocals almost never falter in their confidence and delivery, and his added grit to the Altered State tracks really help give what are otherwise strong moments even stronger. It’s quite a pleasure to see that Dan’s return to the band is completely deserved and that he’s been the right fit for the group all along.
You’d have a damn difficult time trying to find a group of four musicians who can groove with the same level of intensity and proficiency as the backing musicians of TesseracT. Hell, the 90 second technical speed drill of “Concealing Fate Part Five – Epiphany” should prove that within just a few riffs. You’ll never hear a single choked note, one slow drum beat, nothing. Even though Odyssey is pieced together from multiple performances on the band’s Altered State tour, the level of chops displayed here is undeniable. Drummer and possible-octopus/wizard Jay Postones definitely steals the show from an instrumental standpoint, as he’s constantly the driving force of the band and constantly soars on top of riffs while still never leaving the pocket he so firmly maintains.
His take on drumming is one of the most exciting in heavy music right now and it’s probably the single reason why this CD needs to be heard. With that in mind, Odyssey’s suffers from a downright unpleasant drum mix, particularly the snare constantly jumping out and attacking the speakers. While it may be fine for when the band is going full-stop and bassist Amos Williams is delivering his best vocal impression of Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt, their more sensitive moments are often drowned out by what can only be described as a grating “clack.” For that reason, the mix feels rushed and could have used a bit more attention to detail, although you do occasionally get to hear some drunken singing and funny comments from some Russian concertgoers.
This probably won’t win over any new listeners for the band, but Odyssey will almost unquestionably please most fans of the group. It definitely feels like the band still cares about exploring the possibilities and territory of their long-established material with a few new jams, melodies and rhythmic approaches introduced into the fold. If you’re looking for deliciously glassy and tripped-out guitar tones, you’ve got them in droves here. If you’re looking for sublimely-hooky choruses, just wait until you hear the band close out with “Nocturne” and prepare to zone out in the best possible way.
TesseracT’s Odyssey gets…