One of the endlessly fascinating things about this strange music we call “heavy” and “metal” has been its brilliant way of constantly adding to its tribes and cults. Through NWOBHM to grunge, death metal to black metal, metalcore to hardcore, the constantly evolving, shape changing, never standing still at all is musical and artistic creativity to be seriously envied. The latest “tribe” is the marvellously titled Djent and rapidly emerging from its swamp is British band TesseracT.
For the uninitiated amongst you, Djent is broadly (and I use this in its truest sense) progressive metal laced with complex drum patterns, curve ball time changes and jazzy chords but its also a lot more than that. Its also, sometimes, a lot less than that, dependent on the reductive and artistic taste of the bands in question. Djent originally referred to the guitar sound created by the bands involved but it has all but evolved into the genre itself.
Opening track ‘Lament’ is an amuse bouche for the feast of stunning music that is about to invade your ears. In and of itself, it’s a track you’ll be raving about for weeks: it’s initial spectral beauty morphing into a crushing guitar led aural assault. It’s just the start. ‘Nascent’ turns the quality notch up even higher with the signature Meshuggah influenced guitar parts (as the founding fathers, a key leitmotif of this thing called Djent)- howling in full effect.
Music reviewers often refer to one track being the heart of an album: here, the six part progressive epic ‘Concealing Fate’ is the heart, lungs and all vital organs of this record. It’s a sprawling, hypnotic, innovative, emotional, stirring and complex masterpiece. The whole epic probably shouldn’t work but there is so much staggering attention to detail, such brilliant musicianship and so many ideas bouncing around the place that it does. I could try and summarise what its like to listen to but I wouldn’t do it justice: you’re just going to have to find out for yourself just how good it is.
‘Sunrise’ feels like a relief after the intensity of ‘Concealing Fate’ but don’t see that as a criticism- it’s a belter of a tune, a splendid cocktail of brutal guitars and vocal harmonies underscoring a brutal “Don’t you look at me with those eyes” call and response that will surely slay live.
Closing out the whole she-bang, the nine minute ‘Eden’ is another phenomenal exposition of what this band can do- intricate, passionate, difficult and seriously impressive.
Brilliant, stirring, intellectual, smart-aleccy but curiously emotional and tender at times, TesseracT throw you a whole heap of emotions and textures, often simultaneously, but never without thought or precision. There is some seriously smart brain power being applied here but it’s not math metal, all angles and shapes but no soul or core. This record and the band are going to soundtrack much of your year and will win loads and loads of critical praise and awards. It’s deserved.
To Djent or not to Djent? Whatever, when you have music as fabulous, stirring, emotional and in-your-face-brilliant as this, I don’t care what you call it. Fantastic.