Djent and I have always had a difficult relationship. On the one hand, I love polyrhythms and insane syncopation, detuned seven or eight string guitars, and mind bending grooves. On the other hand, I have a limited tolerance for harsh vocals, and often, even after many listens, I find the songs on many djent albums blending together, with maybe one or two standout tracks on a 50+ minute album.
TesseracT, from their second album on, have largely mitigated my complaints about the genre. With each successive release they’ve built tighter, more cohesive songs using djent as a template; culminating in Sonder, their fourth full length album. On Sonder, TesseracT creates the rare djent album which maintains all of the keystone characteristics of the genre while making each song unique and memorable from the first listen.
From the start, the album deftly switches from earth-rumbling chords, to ambient or post-rock inspired passages, then to fierce grooves. The flow of dynamics between songs keep the album interesting as well. From the start, “Luminary” is a fairly balanced song, that touches on each aspect of TesseracT’s sound, and is immediately followed by “King” – the heaviest track on the album. “King” then gives way to “Orbital,” a short ambient-styled interlude, which leads into “Juno” – my personal favorite track – with it’s massive lilting intro and tight bass groove through the verses. Each of those songs has a clear personality, and each is immediately recognizable on subsequent listens, while still feeling like the pieces all fit together to support the album and the concept.
Lyrically the album deals with issues of the cycles of history and the sense of what we do as individuals feeling insignificant in light of all that. It presents a struggle between the desire to live a life that is meaningful while knowing that all we do is so small in the bigger picture. The song “Beneath My Skin” is described in the liner notes as “Acknowledging the fact that we have no control over our fate yet discovering the freedom and peace that can be found within.” This thought, perhaps, most clearly condenses the albums overall philosophy: The solution to the world’s problems isn’t to try to force change in the world around us, but for each individual to seek change within himself.
The songs largely tow the line between complex and catchy, and the music complements the lyrics and themes of the album. Sonder is on the shorter side, coming in a little under 40 minutes, and as a side effect of its shorter length, it lends itself quite well to consecutive repeat listens. Overall, Sonder is an excellent album that demonstrates the band’s skill and maturity.
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