War Of Being
Review by Raphaël on November 28, 2023.
What I’m about to attempt is not an easy feat. Putting in words what this album made me feel, the journey I lived through during these 61 minutes. I’m talking about War Of Being, the last full-length album of TesseracT, released earlier this fall. First, let’s talk about the band a little bit. They started way back in 2003, founded by Acle Kahney while he was in another band, Fellsilent, which can be viewed as an unofficial predecessor of TesseracT. They officially released their first album in 2011, One. Since then, they have had a pretty stable lineup with the exception of their second album, Altered State, where Ashe O’Hara took on the vocal duties but, Daniel Tompkins, who did vocals on One, came back for their third, Polaris, and has been in the band since. So, the official lineup is Acle Kahney on lead guitar, Jay Postones on drums, James Monteith on rhythm guitar, Amos Williams on bass and Daniel Tompkins on lead vocals.
Back to War Of Being. This is without a doubt the best work the band has ever done! It’s the culmination of everything TesseracT ever was, it’s an introspective journey, told in the form of a concept album, that makes you look at yourself in the most honest way, where you learn to approach yourself with empathy by trying to understand your feelings and your desires. These deep themes are accompanied by the perfect mix of the highly technical kind of progressive metal (Djent), built on polyrhythmics and syncopated rhythm patterns, yet filled with beautiful melodies and atmospheres. I think if someone asked me what Djent is, TesseracT would be one of the first band I point to. Their music gives you an out of body experience, where you float with the flow of the rhythm, get lost in the atmospheres and get touched directly in the heart by the melodies. Little side note, I saw them live this fall and I think I understand why they are called TesseracT! A tesseract is what a cube is in the 3rd dimension, but in the 4th dimension. It’s the perfect name considering they straight up transport you into an extra dimensional plane.
The first thing that struck me after the first listen is Daniel Tompkins vocal performance. I heard in an interview with Amos Williams that, this time, the music has been composed with vocals in mind. This helps with the overall experience, making the lyrics, the vocals and the music all intrinsically linked with one another making for a complete and cohesive experience. And oh boy, what an experience it is! Throughout this journey, Daniel uses his voice as if it was a multitude of different instruments. Sometimes, it’s a powerful and aggressive scream, other times it’s a sweet and soft melody, or a powerful, epically high and crystal-clear note. The absolute control and mastery this man has of his voice is awe inspiring! With each listen you discover something new, a vocal line, a note or the way the text is an integral part of the experience.
Lyrically, this is a concept album following a character’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance. It starts with the character being angry and confused, feeling lost in this world: “Born restless, Keep it inside, You don't mind, You don’t get it, Born restless, You're a natural disaster”. But, as he progresses, he slowly realizes he’s not being honest with himself: “I've been living life in monochrome, I'm the grey upon the sea, So entangled up in the brevity, And the constant tragedy” and decides to change things: “I've been dreaming, Anxious to the core, I don't want to feel this way, Same as yesterday, Please lead me home” until one of the absolute highlight of the album, and frankly, their whole career, the song 'War Of Being' where he actively “tears the mask” to become the truest version of himself:” Tear the mask away, Facing one another, Now elevate my understanding, Elevate my understanding, Don’t exacerbate my perception, My body’s fading, Tomorrow came for me, Rushing in and out of me”. After all of this incredible journey, the album ends on an emotional high note with 'Sacrifice'. When Daniel sings: “Because I'm older, I'm wiser, I am almost there, Because I'm older, I'm stronger, So much stronger, I was waiting for another voice to say”, his voice, the words, his singing prowess’s and the music all come together in a maelstrom of beautiful, positive and hopeful emotions, that make me cry every time! Being myself on a journey of self-discovery, the album hits right on target.
And what about the actual music? TesseracT has the perfect sound: they play the modern style of highly technical progressive metal, directly influenced by Meshuggah, but add so much more. One guitar softly accompanies the ambiant backtrack with a delicate picking, giving a truly ethereal feeling, while the bass, drums and other guitar work together in tandem to create those hypnotics, dizzying and complex rhythms. It’s the perfect balance of incredible musicianship, melody and atmospheres. But there is far more heaviness and overall, much more aggressivity than in previous releases. Heavy breakdowns, screamed and sometimes growled vocals are much more common. It gives the little extra oomph that was missing since their first album! The album is filled with memorable moments, from the great buildup and explosion of aggressivity of the first song, 'Natural Disaster', to the bouncy, funky and heavy rhythm of 'The Grey' and the absolute masterpiece that is the 13 minutes long, 'War Of Being'. And let’s not forget the album closer, 'Sacrifice', which is just pure emotions. Like mention previously, you’ll discover new things with each listen. The album is filled with surprises.
This is definitely going to be my album of the year and an all-time progressive masterpiece! The more I search for negative points the more I end up discovering new things I love. I hope TesseracT continues to evolve and get better with time, but I truly don’t know if they will be able to top War Of Being! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put on the record one more time.
Rating: 10 out of 10310