‘Sonder’ is the latest release from Milton Keynes progressive metal band TesseracT. The five-piece are known for their ability to live up to the expectations of prog metal, with the educated thought they frequent, emphasising odd time signatures and complex song structures.
The most spirited, exceptional aspect of ‘Sonder’ is the occasional use of instrumentation outside the usual boundaries of the band and their genre. Opening track ‘Luminary’ features very prissy, baroque-style harpsichords stabs, making for at least somewhat of a counter for the otherwise humdrum early-2000s alternative metal overtones of the song. ‘King’ is fairly symphonic, with orchestral blasts adding an extra dimension to the track, with a sprinkle of maturity too.
For the most part, ‘Sonder’ is a very standard affair, with soundscapes and song themes that border on biblical, but don’t be fooled, TesseracT are hardly a new age Evanescence, and their fondness for a Meshuggah thematic already sounds old and passable. They have the technique and fundamentals down, as you’d imagine, but progressive metal has come a long way, and the mild glimpses we get at musical breakthrough and technical prowess on ‘Sonder’ aren’t really fulfilling, even for lifelong fans of the genre.
Nothing is particularly notable about the level of performance on ‘Sonder’. TesseracT come through here-and-there with the ooze of masculinity people tend to expect from them and their prog metal image, particularly in Daniel Tomkins’ vocals, but as mentioned, they’re very ordinary, very thin. Perhaps the only remarkable performance factors appear in ‘Juno’, which features not only the most proficient drumming performance on the record, but also some pretty nifty slap bass, giving the listener at least something a little different.
On ‘Sonder’, TesseracT don’t really do enough to stand out from other modern progressive metal bands. As mentioned, they have the fundamentals down, constantly showing off their well-groomed skill as musicians, but while that should simply be their backbone, on ‘Sonder’, it becomes the body of their work. Nothing else about their sound or stylistic approach is impactful or memorable, and the end of result is wooden.
‘Sonder’ is out now via Kscope. The track listing is …
05. Beneath My Skin
06. Mirror Image
08. The Arrow