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Sunday, 2 December 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Tesseract

Tesseract, Between The Buried And Me & Plini, SWX Bristol

I'm a bit partial to Tesseract their style of anthemic djent has cemented them as one of the genre leaders along with Periphery. This was their biggest tour yet bringing with them American oddballs Between The Buried And Me and Australian guitarist Plini playing venues such as SWX in Bristol (which is rapidly becoming one of my favourites). The nightclub-come-venue was full when I arrived and due to the traffic I all but missed Plini's set arriving for the last two songs but he's an incredible guitar player backed by a very impressive band, due to the instrumental nature some could have been turned off but most of the room were nodding their heads in unison to the groovy riffs and fluid guitar lines, in between the songs Plini's warm nature shone through looking genuinely happy for so many people arriving early to watch his set.

A bit of break and the change over in darkness before American's Between The Buried And Me (5) took to the stage, now I'll admit that I've struggled with them on record but I never write a band off until I've seen them live and unfortunately BTBAM did nothing to change my opinion on a Tuesday night in Bristol. Their music is complex, jazz influenced almost improvisational similar to Van Der Graaf Generator or King Crimson although with a modern metal heaviness but where I really struggle is with the vocals which veer wildly from slightly off-key heavily vocodered clean mumbling to emo-screams neither of which sat right with music. The other major issue was the sound which made everything really muddy meaning nothing was overly audible. As they finished there was a real hardcore at the front that loved it but I just don't get the appeal I'm afraid.

No such sound issues for the headliners, bringing their own sound engineer with them, the change over was different to anything else as a slow steady pulse played over the PA, it was all deliberate building an atmosphere as their lighting rig was brought on to the stage. Having seen them play last supporting Devin Townsend it was their light show that really impressed me well this has been stepped up as soon as the pulse gave way to first track Luminary which saw the band take to the stage triumphantly the string section of James, Acle and Amos bringing thick chunky grooves mixed with more ethereal ambient textures over the top, the Acle and Amos moving and riffing away as James cuts a large figure on the left of stage.

It was all anchored brilliantly by drummer Jay who plays with flair and gives lots of space on the more recent melodic material. All eyes though were on frontman Dan who's voice I swear gets better every time I see them and his stage presence is brilliant leading the crowd in their enjoyment throwing his hands in the air and bouncing like and energiser bunny. The stage show was still majestic the lighting rigs span, flipped and flashed throughout casting the band in shadow for much of the set but occasionally giving you a glimpse of them in full flight, as they brought out their heavier songs early playing Concealing Fate Parts 2 & 3 in succession getting those who have been there since that first Concealing Fate EP going before moving into the more recent tracks from the brilliant Sonder and Polaris with Dystopia, Hexes, Juno and King the highlights each track matched by the visuals which were breathtaking. The obvious climax was Concealing Fate: Part 1 but with a 14 song setlist with definite peaks and troughs throughout it was an amazing set from the UK djentlemen who have outgrown that tag to be honest, turning into a much more mature prospect. Despite the supports not really floating my boat Tesseract (9) put on a masterclass in stage performance in Bristol.          

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