TesseracT's 2015 album sees the return of original vocalist Dan Tompkins, which made me think the band also would return to the raw, alternative, djent of the One album. Screams, staccato riffs and incredible power included. But I guess Tesseract has passed that point and moved forward on a more progressive path they were heading, leaving several different vocalists behind. Guitarist Acle Kahney was one of the guitarists that stood at the cradle of the djent genre, together with Periphery's Misha Mansoor he perfected a genre that came forth from the absolutely amazing style a band like Meshuggah became famous for.
The powerful djent riffs are still present on Polaris, but Tesseract is definitely heading to a more “mainstream” progressive rock and metal style. Sure the basics are the recognizable riffs, but the music itself has evolved by adding new spherical elements and experiments with sounds and tones. The opener Dystopia combines the rough power of the first album with more accessible parts of alternative rock, focussing more on creating an atmosphere then on brutal force. Although the vocals still have a harsh edge, the over all touch is quite pleasant. Hexes adds guest vocalist Martin Crech, which results in a djenty combination of Muse and the old TesseracT. A perfect song is Messenger, here the guitar duo; Arcle Kahney and James Monteith are absolutely challenged by the fabulous rhythm section. Bass player Amos Williams shows he belongs to the top players of the genre and the impressive drum patterns of Jay Postones are not easy to copy. Cages is as impressive as the previous composition; for other reasons, the ambient atmosphere, combined with fine vocals and delicate guitars and bass make the song something special. Towards the end the power increases to finish on an absolute high. When I listen to Tourniquet, a number of elements pass by, hunches of Riverside and Steven Wilson do sound through in the vocals. Anathema's theatrical elements can be heard as well, but still the over all sound says: TesseracT. Highlight Utopia has a sort of Tool reminding touch, here the bass, drums and guitar sound just nails it, the suitable vocals are the icing on the more than fine composition.
I am not a big fan of djent music, where the key elements are the constant use of screaming vocals and everlasting repeating guitar patterns, but I find Polaris a very pleasant surprise. Here we witness a band that is in motion, evolving and giving more depth to their original style. This makes the album suitable for both djent die-hards who like to broaden their view as well as musical fans that like progressive rock/metal and alternative rock. I guess even some of the compositions would be suitable on mainstream radio stations. Polaris is their most open minded album so far, taking them one step further into new directions and explores new possibilities in music.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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