Tesseract – ‘Sonder’ (Album Review)

Tesseract Sonder Album Review Luminary Smile Polaris Altered State One Perspective Utopia Dystopia

Too many metal bands make music with all the depth of a raindrop. Tesseract, on the other hand, constantly strive to give their fans more than they could possibly ask for.

More meaning.

More innovation.

More value.

Small wonder that Tesseract are now fully fledged rising stars not just of the British metal world, but of the international metal community in general.

“This is Tesseract at their most refined, thoughtful, and awesome”

“Sonder” is a term coined by John Koenig. As the creator of the Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows, Koenig has succeeded in inventing words to describe once unnameable – but vividly experienced – emotions. Sonder, then, means “the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own,” and Sonder the album explores a set of related themes, from insignificance to alienation, corruption, oppression, and the absence of ultimate control over fate and the universe.

This is heavy stuff – and since we’re talking about Tesseract here, the soundtrack is more than appropriate. Over the past few years, Tesseract have pursued a relatively accessible direction through 2015’s Polaris (reviewed here) and 2016’s low-key bonus release Errai (also reviewed here) – but Sonder draws on all of Tesseract’s previous full-length releases to forge yet another career milestone, and brand it with some classic signature moves.

Bass-driven grooves, serene and pensive ambience, lumbering but immense riffs and apocalyptic chord progressions are long-established Tesseract landmarks, but throughout Sonder they’ve all been kept as concise as possible. Running at 37 minutes, this is the shortest Tesseract album by a considerable stretch; One lasted 54 minutes, Altered State 50, and Polaris 46. Sonder has been carefully designed for maximum impact – and as Luminary’s none-more-immediate opening riff makes clear, there’s also a renewed emphasis on aggression this time around.

Personally, the heavier Tesseract get, the more I love it – so the epic seven-minute King, the perfectly arranged Beneath My Skin, and updated, cranked-way-up Smile were the best tracks on offer for me. King definitely wins as Sonder’s best song thanks to some sick screaming, while Orbital and The Arrow provide some extended breathing space. The latter track – Sonder’s closer – is also notable for its lyrics; dealing with ruminative regret over wasted time, it really fits Sonder’s overall theme and leaves the listener on a raw emotional note.

Although its closing moments are made up of soothing electronic elements and reversed samples, Sonder remains a dark and cathartic long-player. As for flaws, there are none. This is Tesseract at their most refined, thoughtful, and awesome.

LTK RATING: 100% (Essential Listening!)

Pre-order Sonder (out April 20) on iTunes.

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Posted on 15 March 2018

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