Bring out the djent parade!
Every single Meshuggah-loving act and their goddamn mother is releasing an album this year. Xerath released their sophomore album, Uneven Structure and Vildhjarta have their debuts planned, Cloudkicker released a single, Periphery and Gojira both have EPs on the schedule... In fact, it seems like the only band who isn't getting in on this action themselves are Meshuggah, and even then, their album had been originally planned for release in the autumn before getting pushed back to 2012.
I guess the big question here is, amongst all of these rather excellent bands, what are TesseracT doing to stand out? Are they going to be any better than their peers? After listening to this album, signs are pointing to...maybe?
If that sounds lukewarm, it's because their debut album, the aptly titled One, is really flavourless. It's not terribly bad, but it's not terribly superb either. It's really just your average debut album, showing off the band's sound without throwing anything terribly impressive our way.
So, what do they sound like? Well, their variety of djent focuses less on mathematically boggling rhythms and more on ambience--while there are some interesting rhythmic patterns going on here, they're more restrained and intended more as background material than as the centre of interest. Oftentimes the chugging is accompanied by more floaty, sparse, and clean guitar lines that tend to carry the melody. Most of the focus goes to their vocalist, however, who sings primarily with clean vocals, throwing in the occasional scream for good measure. The combination makes them sound like equal parts 22 and Kevin Suter, which I'll admit is actually a pleasant sound.
However, there isn't a whole lot of ground being broken in terms of composition here. Even though there's the huge, half-hour track "Concealing Fate" thrown into the mix, the entire album still plays like a group of four-to-eight minute samey chunks of music. And then, it's samey music that many, many acts have been trying to get in on recently. There are a few particularly likable moments, like "Lament," the instrumental "Epiphany" and the closer "Eden," but I'd be lying if I told you they were significantly superior to the rest of the album. The album stays near a steady quality, and that quality is 'eh, all right.'
I will say that the album does get slightly better with subsequent listens. After you have the vocals figured out, it becomes much easier to pick apart and appreciate the rhythmic work going on in the background. In addition, the songs themselves do become a touch less same-y. Of course, how much is attributable to familiarity with the music versus genuine variety is a bit murky. It still isn't much to write home about, but I always have praise for an album that makes itself more engaging over time instead of becoming duller.
I guess the question for you is this: Did you really want to like Meshuggah, but couldn't? Try TesseracT. People who find Meshuggah's growling or lack of accessible melodies too hard to digest will probably find TesseracT a lot easier on the ears, if nothing else. Conversely, those who really enjoy the fact that Meshuggah's complex rhythms are at the forefront of their music will be disappointed trying to pick them out of this album. One is a solid debut, but you won't be missing much if you skip it.
6.0 / 10
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