Tesseract are back with their third studio album 'Polaris' released on 18 September. For most fans, this has been much anticipated, given the departure of Ashe O' Hara and the return of Dan Tompkins, who have quite different vocal styles. For me, it keeps the powerful clean vocals that Ashe brought to 'Altered State', but is a marked move in to a more ethereal and progressive direction, without the unclean vocals I've come to know as part of Tesseract.
DYSTOPIA is one of the best songs on the album and a great opener. The groove is funky with a great chuggy rhythm that has become a real part of Tesseract's sound, the vocals are cracking and prove that we haven't lost what we all loved about the last album. Whereas, the second track HEXES, is beautiful and lilting with dreamy harmonies. There is a slight 'album outro, repeat to fade' feel to the song, which is a bit misplaced so early on the album.
Returning to form, SURVIVAL, harks back to the sounds of previous releases from Tesseract and makes for comfortable listening. It is a good track, but definitely not a highlight. The same goes for TOURNIQUET which is beautiful, but not enough to make my top track on the album. These songs, along with the UTOPIA, are something new for Tesseract, something we don't see too much on previous albums and part of their new sound.
I like the chord progressions throughout PHOENIX, which has a good sound, with U2 stadium rock moments which isn't my style at all but it's a nice contrast to the previous more low key songs. However, MESSENGER is without a doubt, my favourite song on the album. The bass line starts off with a cracking groove and the vocals are worthy of unashamedly singing at top volume, when you're confined in a car, going down the motorway at full pelt, so nobody can hear how terrible you sound. It feels that there is a part of all the good things that Tesseract have ever done, all feature in this song, and it perfectly defines their sound.
From the best to possibly my least favourite song on the album, CAGES, which takes a long time to get going and feels a little flat after the previous track. It doesn't have the same mystery or intensity as some of the other songs on the album. The last song, SEVEN NAMES, starts off slowly, but breaks into a huge sound around half way through, before tailing off into silence.
The highlights are DYSTOPIA, SURVIVAL and MESSENGER, perhaps because they are similar to previous releases from Tesseract. The more chilled out and spacey tracks, have yet to make a lasting impression on me, but I do find that a lot of Tesseract songs take a while before I grow to love them!
Tesseract are touring in early 2016 and will be at Leeds Union on Sunday 7th February.
Watch Survival here: