Up until this point, TesseracT wasn't a band I held much respect for. Though a competent release, their debut album One showcased all of the worst traits of the djent movement, doing little to move the genre beyond the "fad metal" title it had inherited. However, after the release of their sophomore album Altered State,
TesseracT have bafflingly defied expectations and have crafted a release that truly demands respect.
Far from the copy/paste approach to the genre found in One, every piece on Altered State does something to move djent past its current limits and show what can really be done with its established sound. As a whole, the album represents a much lighter approach to the genre, scarcely ever using the Meshuggah-esque chug and growl combination heavily prevalent in their contemporaries. Instead, the band builds off of the style they experimented with on Perspective. To that end, every piece uses the chugging as a backdrop to soaring, rhythmically disjoint leads, creating beautifully intricate constructions that both interweave and juxtapose lighter melodies with the heavier instrumentation.
Continuing one of the things they did right on their debut album, TesseracT remains one of the few djent bands to take advantage of the expansive space afforded by progressive metal, covering fifty minutes of music in just four pieces. They've also branched out their compositions to include influences from, of all things, jazz music (as guest musician Chris Barretto's saxophone so beautifully illustrates), emphasizing and rounding out the lighter aspect of their sound rather nicely.
Of course, some things just haven't changed at all. Ensuring the band never breaks a 1:1 ratio of releases to vocalists, Ashe O'Hara has stepped in to replace Elliot Coleman, who departed following the release of Perspective. He also manages to sound exactly the same as both former TesseracT vocalists, to the point where no one would have noticed the change if the band hadn't bothered to point it out. And though their compositions have become noticeably more diverse, stylistic repetition is still a concern for the band; it's not quite as bad as it was on One, but there are still more than a few moments on the album that seem rehashed or repeated.
No matter its small flaws, Altered State is a solid release. TesseracT have proven that they are no longer content to follow the leader; they have forged their own path in earnest, and the result is a surprisingly satisfying album.
Recommended if you like: Uneven Structure, Skyharbor, The Korea