TesseracT, Live

TesseracT are back on home turf, with Daniel Tompkins...

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There’s a massive queue snaking its way around King’s Cross Scala and it’s teeming with excited chatter.

After almost two months of touring Europe, TesseracT are back on home soil and ready to treat the capital to their travelling show. But it’s not just any old show – it’s one that really shows off prog metal’s masterful reinvention at the hands of three very talented, young, must-see groups.

Opening is former Animals As Leaders drummer Navene Koperweis, who shows off his skills as an impressive multi-instrumentalist with a short set billed as Navene K. He’s a one‑man powerhouse of samples, live drums and guitars, switching between each several times per song. He works his way around his kit like a possessed animal, and although his pounding rhythms and infectious grooves are perhaps better suited for the dance floor than a gig, his skill is undeniable.

With their burgeoning reputation, there’s a great surge forward from the audience within seconds of Animals As Leaders walking on to the stage. They open with Tooth And Claw from their impressive third album The Joy Of Motion, but a few technical problems seem to initially throw them. However, it doesn’t take too long for the instrumental three-piece to adopt an air of cool that lasts for the duration of their set.

Founding guitarist Tosin Abasi’s shimmering sounds cast a spell across each song, their elegant blend of progressive metal packed with lashings of Tool-like darkness, a pinch of Hendrix and an undercurrent of jazz fusion appealing to a wide range of faces in this sold‑out venue.

Their crazily inventive hooks elevate each melody to another level while still retaining a very listenable quality. Wave Of Babies sends oscillations of loveliness across the audience, followed by the other-worldly sounds of Weightless, which is underpinned by technical wizardry and tinges of spacey noise.

They make an impressive racket for just a three-piece, with no visuals to distract attention away from their music. Finale CAFO showcases the technical proficiency that has captured a whole new audience and there’s huge applause from the Scala crowd as it gently glides to a conclusion.

It may be cold and damp outside, but inside steam rises from the tightly packed crowd as TesseracT stride on to the stage. It was back in June that they announced Skyharbor vocalist and former member Daniel Tompkins had rejoined the band, and he made his return at Sonisphere just a week later.

Unsurprisingly, that set was weighted heavily towards music from their debut One that had been written and recorded during Tompkins’ initial tenure. Now, several months on, they’re able to present a more rounded setlist, pulling in material from their whole catalogue, including debut track Deception and all three parts of the more recent Of Matter. And tonight, it’s clear that TesseracT mean business.

From the opening chords of Of Energy: Singularity, they ramp things right up to 11. Lush melodies cascade under Tompkins’ smooth vocals, which caress each song perfectly – it’s as though his three-year absence has simply reignited his passion.

There’s an undeniable chemistry between the band members that erupts during their swansong Acceptance, and it’s during this particular number that Tompkins leaps into the audience and rides out across a sea of appreciative hands.

It’s wonderful to have Tompkins back where he belongs, and in this bright new dawn for TesseracT, the follow-up to 2013’s Altered State album can’t come soon enough.

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.