Dan Tompkins’ departure from TesseracT in 2010 was a shock. The band had recently earned rave reviews and a captivated audience with their debut album One – a sublime blend of complicated, angular progressive metal and the singer’s near-angelic voice. When Tompkins exited at this pivotal moment, fans were left aghast and wondering ‘why now?’ But like any intuitive organisation, the wheels were already in motion to replace their vocalist: enter US crooner Elliot Coleman. It’s been a bumpy ride for Coleman, with many fans reacting negatively to his induction. But these Brit proggers are a clever lot and have mastered the perfect bridge between TesseracT past and future.
For those familiar with the band, the prospect of an acoustic interpretation might seem sacrilegious. After all, the quintet are forged on a hulking sound, relying on the electric force of resonant guitars and chunky riffs to keep them on the same plateau as bands like Periphery and Chimp Spanner.
But firstly, this is not solely acoustic – the opening bars of Perfection are swept along by soothing computerised effects, and there is possibly some electric guitar in there too. Secondly, the last two tracks on the EP are non-acoustic renditions. Thirdly, this EP just works.
Perfection, which appeared as part of a six-part unit embedded in their last album, almost matches the weight of its original form thanks to the clever layering of vocals, deep drum beats and a transcendental guitar line. Coleman passes the first test but he excels during April, which is better suited to his tone and style. From the signature palm-muted bass lines to the soulful vocal exit, this is more than a credible interpretation of another of song from One, and testament to their worthy choice of replacement for Tompkins.
Equally Origin is a reincarnation, taking the cumbersome mechanical bass of the original and softening it with shimmering guitars and injecting it with melody. Some might say a Jeff Buckley cover is an obvious choice, given the frequent comparisons drawn between the two singers, but Coleman does Dream Brother justice, and then some. Saturated with the haunting romanticism and spine-tingling moments that made Buckley’s original so magical, TesseracT’s version is an earnest treatment that retains their own style, albeit with the usual edge toned down.
TesseracT have had the insight to recognise that semi-acoustic works wonders for their new singer; the only question is how they marry him with their usual style. This provides a reassuring answer – let’s just hope their next album is as good.