“The concept behind Altered State is very simple. It is about change, and how life is change. We have been through a very difficult period of time over the last few years. It is a miracle that the band has survived. I feel it is the ability to step back and see everything for what it is (hence the Perspective EP) that has allowed us to get on with life and try to enjoy it. Reality is change…” [TesseracT, 2013]
There are few more honourable occupations than the pursuit of artistic progress. Over the course of the last five years, TesseracT have not just been at the forefront of an initially burgeoning and now flourishing part of the ever-evolving metal scene: in fact, they have been striking a blow for freedom of thought and individuality, rubbing purposefully against the grain of an often conservative musical world. Now, in 2013, these masters of modern progressive heaviness have moved the goalposts once again.
Formed as a studio project back in 2003 by guitarist Acle Kahney, TesseracT immediately eschewed all well-established notions of what metal should sound like and swiftly became a unique and daring entity. By 2007, Acle had recruited a line-up worthy of his groundbreaking compositions and this new band embarked upon a quest to inject some originality and excitement back into an often myopic and lazy British metal scene. Completed by drummer Jay Postones, guitarist James Monteith, bassist Amos Williams and (between 2006 and 2009) vocalist Abisola Obasanya, TesseracT steadily accrued a devoted fan base and a formidable reputation as one of the most exhilarating and distinctive bands to emerge from the UK in decades. By the time the band signed to Century Media Records, the buzz surrounding them was simply deafening. Obasanya was replaced by new vocalist Daniel Tompkins, and the newly revitalised line-up recorded a debut album, One, which would go on to receive widespread critical acclaim, not least due to the album’s staggering six-part centrepiece Concealing Fate, which brilliantly showcased the band’s pioneering sonic approach and unstoppable arsenal of off-kilter riffs, soaring melodies and disorientating atmospherics. Countless gigs and festival performances in Europe, the US and even India added further weight to the perception that TesseracT were a band with a glittering future ahead of them; the band’s thrilling live shows proving to be a decisive factor in the rapid expansion of their global support base.
The departure of Tompkins in 2011 could easily have derailed a less focused band than this, but TesseracT barely paused for breath as they recruited American singer Eliot Coleman and recorded the primarily acoustic Perspective EP, which emerged in May 2012 to an effusive response from critics and fans alike. Shortly after, their status as progressive metal’s most fascinating new creative force was very publicly celebrated when TesseracT picked up the Best New Band trophy at 2012’s inaugural Progressive Music Awards in London. Coleman followed in his predecessors’ footsteps by stepping down midway through 2012, but such was the momentum driving the band forwards that it was only a matter of time before they found a suitable replacement. This time round, TesseracT struck gold, discovering Brighton-based vocalist Ashe O’Hara, realising that his extraordinary voice was a perfect fit and immediately diving into the creative process for a second full-length studio album.
“Working with Ashe has been glorious,” says Amos Williams. “His ideas just fit. But, they also enhance and electrify the emotion and mood of the music, a lens that pulls it all into focus. Each track has become a story. For such a young guy, his lyrics have a unique honesty and emotive clarity that resonate hugely with all of us. Considering the bad luck we’ve had in the past, we are very lucky to have discovered such a gem, and in our own back yard, too!”
Due for release on April 27th 2013, Altered State is not just the second TesseracT album. It is also a valedictory statement from a band that have always followed their own path and aimed higher than the vast majority of their supposed peers. With O’Hara a joyously soulful presence throughout, the new material takes the band’s original blueprint and stretches it to previously unknown limits, adding great space and subtlety to their trademark sound while never neglecting those all-important riffs and moments of melodic incisiveness.
“For whatever reason, we’ve always felt a little out of context to our friends and peers,” says Williams. “I’m sure everyone feels that, but let’s just say we’ve never quite fit. This has been a blessing for us creatively, as it has allowed us a certain freedom. As always, on this album there appears to be a rule of contradictions. Although things are less hectic than before, they are also far more delicate and tricky. The impact is less explosive, but more shattering as a result. Mood, atmosphere, melody, and experiment are the main focus. Although it may have gone off on its own journey, it is still TesseracT somehow.”
Having already tried and tested the new line-up on the road, TesseracT are primed and ready to claim 2013 as their own. With a new album that is certain to have a massive impact in the metal scene and maybe even beyond, this band have never been in a stronger position to shine a light on tomorrow’s limitless possibilities and to continue their bold exploration of music’s innate potential. The future may have arrived but TesseracT are already eyeing that next tantalising horizon…
“As with everything TesseracT, there are of course layers and ‘deeper’ meanings on this album,” Williams concludes. “One of our muses is science. A law of science called the Law of Conservation of Energy states that in a closed system, energy is conserved, nothing is lost. It merely changes from one state to another. The four movements of Altered State - Of Matter; Of Mind; Of Reality; Of Energy - are simple musings on these different stages of change, on both the personal or micro scale of things of our everyday life, but also the macro and universal scale of things. For TesseracT, life inspires art and we tend to wear our hearts on our sleeves.”
Dom Lawson, March 2013