TesseracT's latest album is "near-future fantasy about two people that have to traverse a strange land": And if that sounds like a video game, well, that's the plan

TesseracT in 2023 - studio portrait
(Image credit: Andy Ford)

After keeping fans immersed in their world with their livestreams, ‘Portals’, during the pandemic, progressive metallers TesseracT returned last year with their first new album in five years. The War Of Being is a hugely complex concept piece telling the tale of characters Ex and El, crash-landed and stranded on ‘The Strangeland’. There are plans for the dark fantasy story to reach beyond just the music, as frontman Daniel Tompkins and bassist Amos Williams explain.


How is The War Of Being a progression from your previous record, Sonder? 

Daniel: We’ve tried to cherry-pick certain approaches from each album – the heaviness of the first album, the ethereal nature of Altered State, the approachability of Polaris, the progressive nature of Sonder – but we’ve taken it one step further to elevate the bigness of it all. It’s very polished. I’ve always felt like the vocals have sat underneath the music at times, whereas this time we’ve mixed it so that every element of the music has its own place. 

What is the concept? 

Amos: It’s a neo-noir, near-future fantasy about two people that have to traverse a strange land to achieve something. There was a desire to find the things that I really enjoyed as a child, like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Alien… It’s through the lens of nostalgia, of an adult looking back attheir memory of themselves as a child, and then to put your own thoughts, emotions and trauma into that small package. 

Daniel: This album is about turning the camera on the individual to try and learn a bit more about yourself, about understanding who you are and how much of your true self is locked away. But it involves a whole series of characters that splinter from two people in the story.

And you’re working on a computer game telling the same story? 

Daniel: I spent a year alongside a programmer and a 3D graphic designer and digital designer. We’ve created an early-access version of the game where you’re an explorer in The Strangeland. You crash-land there, and you get to meet characters from the concept as you explore these wonderful environments. The key thing is that you get to discover the band’s music as you’re wandering through this world. 

And Amos, you’re working on a novel to go with it as well? 

Amos: It’s going to be a short novella. I think very visually, which is why I think it was easy for everybody to grab on to the concept. Something in the characters was very easy emotionally for people to attach to. Having those William Blake-style, nutty images in your head, I was just following a path. So that could become a full novel. Because of its visual nature, it might lend itself more towards a graphic novel series. 

TesseracT have a UK tour coming up in February. How is the album going to translate to your live shows? 

Amos: We do have desires to tell a bit of the story or express the characters on stage.We’re hoping to add some more elements where we have interaction between production and audio and the songs that we’re singing. It’s not going to be a rock opera. We’re not going to have a 12-foot person come on stage on stilts dressed up as a character. It’ll be more representative.

The War Of Being is out now. TesseracT are currently on tour in mainland Europe, with UK dates beginning February 20. Full dates and tickets via TesseracT's website.

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.