Bold in all the most unexpected ways; accessible yet complex, catchy as well as heavy.
Label: KScope Records
Released: 18th September 2015
When releasing the first teaser of this album to fans, it’s interesting – and indeed, highly telling – that TesseracT chose to take a section from closing track ‘Seven Names’. The most cinematic cut, as well as a melodic powerhouse, it’s a good bellwether for ‘Polaris’ as a whole.
Of course, the biggest change on this, their third full-length recording, is the return of Dan Tompkins, their singer during the period covering debut album ‘One’. Their second, ‘Altered State’, ushered in a much greater use of atmospheric textures, delays and reverbs to counterpoint new singer Ashe O’Hara’s rich multi-textured vocal harmonies, and on ‘Polaris’ the instruments again have changed to accompany Tompkins’ cleaner, tighter style.
As a result, though ‘Polaris’ is by no means a throwback to their debut, there’s a strong sense of continuity even as the band drive further on into more melodic, accessible territory.
However, for every echo of Tompkins’ solo electronic project White Moth Black Butterfly, there’s a fusillade of whip-snap guitar riffs and crushing drums. Opener ‘Dystopia’, powerful early cut ‘Survival’, and fan preview track ‘Messenger’ are TesseracT sticking to their guns, but the more interesting tracks toy with the ballad idiom, and tease at the rock mainstream with wide angle choruses and soaring vocals.
The obvious anthem is ‘Phoenix’, though the climax of ‘Utopia’ and chorus of ‘Survival’ are both modern rock radio friendly. ‘Tourniquet’ is the closest the band get to an out-and-out ballad, with the track dissolving into satisfying riffs before that comes to pass, much as ‘Cages’ teases at a post-rock style build before finally breaking into the only full-on metal assault of the record.
For a progressive metal band like TesseracT, ‘Polaris’ is bold in all the most unexpected ways, striving to be accessible yet complex and catchy as well as heavy. For these reasons, it’s also stunning, and maybe their best album yet. Alex Lynham