TesseracT – P O R T A L S (Album Review)

TesseracT – P O R T A L S
Released: August 27, 2021

Lineup:

Alec ‘Acle’ Kahney // lead guitar
Jay Postones // drums, percussion
James ‘Metal’ Monteith // rhythm guitar
Amos Williams // bass, backing vocals
Daniel Tompkins // lead vocals

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In December of 2020, TesseracT performed a stunning cinematic experience called P O R T A L S, and on Friday, August 27 the film and soundtrack will be released on an array of formats including Blu-Ray, Triple LP soundtrack, and as a limited edition deluxe 4-disc book edition.

I’m glad you’re here with me because we’re going to get stuck into this soundtrack together. The interesting thing about reviewing P O R T A L S is that the collection of songs span their entire discography. You’ve most likely heard these tracks before, but you haven’t heard them like this.

The first thing I’d like to bring your attention to is that it was recorded live. Can you hear anything that may indicate that? No! This sounds as crisp and perfect as a studio recorded version. Let’s also consider that this live event spanned two hours—the endurance! Mad respect.

The album kicks off with ‘Of Matter’ which is a wonderful 15-minute track and the accumulation of the three ‘Of Matter’ tracks off the band’s Altered State album. The beauty of what TesseracT do is centred around atmospheric storytelling, and the fact that they were able to merge these three songs so seamlessly speaks to their creative vision and how they can take three singular but linked songs and work them closer together to tell a story that is more than they can do alone. We also see this with ‘Concealing Fate Parts 1, 2 & 3’. It becomes very clear that this album is not purely a livestream event where the band play a collection of songs live, but it’s a reshaping and reforming to create something new.

The song structure of the album is the real kicker here; each track has been carefully considered and placed precisely where it’s needed. Hearing ‘Orbital’ after ‘Beneath My Skin/Mirror Image’ gives a slight rest and palate cleanser before moving into ‘Juno’ which brings more energy and excitedness as the band play around with some creative riffs. Another great example of well-structured the track listing is, is how ‘Phoenix’ follows on near perfectly from ‘Dystopia’. It’s seamless and the transition between the two songs could be easily missed. Also, just a shoutout to vocalist Daniel Tompkins, because there are some insane high notes in ‘Phoenix’ and he deserves some god damn recognition for those.

The flow of the album is also reflective of a well curated track listing. They give us mellow areas of the album, builds, peaks and drops. TesseracT play very well with atmosphere and there is almost a visual aspect to this album, even though in this form it is purely aural, and you can almost see the lasers and lighting flitting across the stage. In saying that, P O R T A L S as a whole can be quite meditative with the soundscape they create, you’d only be jolted out of a daydream by those classic djenty, chuggy TesseracT riffs. Wouldn’t be mad about it though.

The lead up to the end of the album is something we need to talk about though. Because it’s great. So, ‘Nocturne’, which is hugely popular and the P O R T A L S version is just stellar, really sets the scene for the next three songs. With ‘Eden’ we pick up the energy and bring some deep growls in, and then we play around a little in ‘Of Energy’. The scramble of samples in the beginning isn’t something we’ve heard on this album yet and the song really plays with timing in a way that keeps you guessing; you’re not sure whether they’re winding down or winding up. And then we come to the closer, ‘Seven Names’. While it begins with a very chill and melodic vibe, it really builds to feel like an accumulation of the album. It has an anthemic feel in the way that only prog rock can achieve—it’s not a stadium anthem—but it’s anthemic and uplifting. Listen to it, you’ll get it.

And then we come to the end of this experience. P O R T A L S is TesseracT’s door into the future; they’ve taken the old and turned it new in an innovative and wonderful way. Their cinematic experience will live forever in our ears and eyes.

TesseracT – P O R T A L S tracklisting

1. Of Matter
2. King
3. Concealing Fate Parts 1, 2 & 3
4. Tourniquet
5. Beneath My Skin / Mirror Image
6. Orbital
7. Juno
8. Cages
9. Dystopia
10. Phoenix
11. Nocturne
12. Eden
13. Of Energy
14. Seven Names

Rating: 9/10
P O R T A L S is out Friday, 27 August via Kscope. Pre-order here.
Review by Ebony Story

Revisit our interview with TesseracT‘s Amos Williams chatting all things P O R T A L S here

About Ebony Story (141 Articles)
Wall of Sound Music Journo & Podcast Host // Loving the heavy heavy

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