Tesseract – ‘Polaris’ Review

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

The year is 2011. A young mullet representing Sean is walking into a show to watch Protest The Hero live. While they were fantastic, a band by the name of Tesseract was one of the opening acts and were fantastic. Their sound to me at that time was something I had never heard from a band before. Their progressive take on alternative metal featured loud bass tones mixing with frantic vocals and popping guitars. After a series of troubling times with vocalists, the group is back with Polaris, being released on September 18th via eOne music (in the U.S.).

I’m going to be completely honest, I was nervous going into listening to the album. Opening track ‘Dystopia’ is the same unique djent formula I was familiar with, okay nothing new to see here, move along. ‘Hexes’ almost had me sold on passing this album until the ending exploded through the sound barrier. Back was the familiar aggressive vocals I missed from Daniel Tompkins. The song in my mind is a representation to what going through a psychosis episode would be like. Starting off calm, letting loose, regaining the conscious before Tompkins, “Don’t you dare,” rise in decibel level; spinning away from reality with each twisting guitar. 

It really is Tompkin’s stability as a vocalist that helps clean up the edges of Tesseract’s sound. Their music is orchestrated terrifically, but can be repetitive at times. The same polyrhythms are accented by certain pops and patterns, which immediately can get the head nodding. Sandwiched between these steady syncopations are layered guitar melodies intertwining together to create a dazzling instrumental. While glossy and introspective, it can come off a little uninspired, because the builds can take a while to be unleashed. ‘Tourniquet’ suffers from this phenomenon, enjoying it’s time being a post-djent (heard it here first) track that never takes off like other tracks do. 

‘Utopia’ is an example of building the right direction. The song has a poetic vibe to it, being littered with grotesque sounding minor scales, giving it a more raw appeal. It feels inventive, in the same light that Tesseract was in when One was released. This is a positive sign for the band to still have a way to heighten their sound in a genre that is littered with similar sounding acts running with the same choppy riffs. How many groups have Tompkins shrilling above their music though?  ‘Phoenix’ even finds the band producing a large chorus full of delightful vocal deliveries not too far away from a pop-punk anthem. 

Where Polaris really grows is closing track ‘Seven Names.’ In this final behemoth of a track we are presented with everything the band littered across the other songs in one final reprise. Tompkins’ voice is the climax of the track, releasing incredible pitch performances almost effortlessly. The guitars groove behind at a swimming pace, cascading through the headphones gently but with a catchy rhythm. It’s times like these that Tesseract still are that inventive band from 2011. Plenty of these tracks have great moments, but at times are halted by too long of sections or not enough gripping parts.