TESSERACT – Altered States

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TesseracT is a progressive band out of the UK that formed back in 2007. The band’s latest release, Altered State, is a musical masterpiece combining elements from across the board. With a fresh lead vocalist the band has come out swinging once again. In a recent interview with bassist Amos Williams we got to discuss a wide array of topics including the meaning of the new album, the way the album all came together, and what we can expect from TesseracT in the future.

TesseracTTo begin, it is important to understand the meaning behind the lyrics and styles on the album. What’s unique about this album is it is split into four sections, each one with their own meaning. This is what Williams had to say about the overall theme of the album and specific meanings of each section of the album:

“The concept behind Altered State is simple: It is about change…the ‘Of Matter’ tracks cover the physical change from one state to another… ‘Of Mind’ tracks cover the schism that occurs when you are unsure of your opinions on something… ‘Of Reality’ covers when life changes and you don’t notice. The titles of this section ‘Of Energy’ cover the universal time.”

With the understanding of what the album means, it then can give you a better understanding of the musical elements chosen and a better appreciation of these elements. If you understand that the album is all about change, it explains the flow in themes of the album. For example, the album starts out light and airy during the Of Matter section, and then continues to gain heavier elements as the album goes along. On top of the overall themes, there are other smaller musical choices that continue to exemplify the progressive elements of the band. For example, probably the most unique element on the whole album is the incorporation of a saxophone in the tracks Embers and Calabi-Yau. This is what the band had to say on the incorporation of this unique element as well as unique elements in their music in general, “Regarding the saxophone specifically, we had a sax track years ago even before I joined the band in 2005. We love to experiment with sounds and Embers seemed like the perfect track for a new sax solo. We approached Chris Barretto (NY) who laid down many ideas, which we spliced together. We couldn’t be happier with his contribution and would love to take it live one day.”

One element the band uses that they have often been associated with is the use of Djent tones. Djent is a relatively new metal style typically associated with a deeply distorted chugging sound and progressive and technical styles. This is what Williams said about their association with the Djent style, “Ah the Djent question. We’re honored to be considered pioneers of a musical genre – who wouldn’t be?! That said, we don’t consider ourselves to be specifically one type of music. It’s a very limiting outlook to have, to classify yourself as one thing.”

The final element that made this album so unique is the fact that it came out so beautifully with so little time to try and create it. Williams explains in greater detail:

TESSERACT - Altered State“The entire production process with Altered State was very different to One. The writing process merged into demoing which merged into final recording/production. We didn’t have the time or budget unfortunately to go into a big studio this time so Acle locked himself away in his studio (4D Sounds) and worked day and night to pull together some of the ideas he’d had since One and write a load of new material.”

One thing about music that is completely unique, is that there are a lot of reasons for people to like it. You may absolutely hate one element about a band but love another. If you are a fan of the lyrical side of an album, then this album will not disappoint. The lyrical choice is very straight forward and personal. It takes on a deeper level than most bands, and really makes you feel that the words being spoken have really been experienced by someone at some point in time. What Williams had to say was that lead singer Ashe O’Hara “speaks far more directly in his lyrics than anything we’ve previously written.”

Finally, on a musical note, it’s a no brainer that every band has some kind of inspiration with regards to bands that have helped them create their style and TesseracT is no exception. “We’ve all grown up listening to quite diverse music, but we share a common ground on a few artists,” Williams explains, “Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Meshuggah to name but a few. Every musician in the world takes inspiration from their favorite artists and from that, molds their brain-farts into something good or something terrible.”

Now it’s easy as fans to say what we may like or dislike about an album, but even as creators of such brilliant music the band has their personal favorites. When asked what their favorites off of Altered State may be Williams stated that, “We all have our favorites but for me personally, Exiled provides the most challenging and interesting music we have written to date.”

Altered State was released in the U.S. on May 28th, so you can pick up your copy of this album now. With the album now out the band will certainly be taking their new music on the road. “I’ve just been reading through a load of tour options which have come through this morning,” Williams says, “so while I can’t confirm any specific tour details, I can say we’ll be in America, Russia and Europe in 2013.”

TesseracT has toured with and been a part of some big events in the past including Sonisphere and tours with bands like Between the Buried and Me and Fear Factory. Every band though has a wish list of bands they would like to tour with. For TesseracT this is what they had to say on this matter:

Press_Photo_03“Obviously we love to play headline shows, they’re far less stressful than support slots for so many reasons. If we were to choose a dream support slot though, it would almost certainly be with Tool or Deftones. We’d all love to tour with Karnivool though and Anathema. Basically bands we’d like to watch every night.”

With Altered State now released in both the U.S. and Europe and a pending tour, TesseracT has once again proven that they are still a force to be reckoned with in the music world. On a final, Altered State is unique to say the least and doesn’t necessarily hold interest to everyone. For the hardcore metal fan this albums isn’t an extreme example of metal music, there aren’t many devastating breakdowns or guttural vocal performances to be found on this record. If that’s what you looking for, you’re probably not really looking in this field of music anyway. There is, however, another group of metal fans to address with this release, and that is what is called the metal virgins, or those with very limited or no experience in metal music world. When queried about this group Williams said, “I’d start by apologizing to him/her as this isn’t really a metal album. Sure, there are heavy moments in there, but there’s not a lot to characterize this as a metal record. I’d recommend they clear their mind and for the next hour, find a quiet place, turn their speakers as loud as they can comfortably go and be as open as possible to the world of other music. They will emerge either a converted man or they won’t get it. Fear not, there will always be a universe of heavy grunting and guitar squealing out there. For the record, we love metal and wouldn’t be where we are today without its influence. Peace.”

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