I feel as though the metal world has been truly blessed with some excellent albums already this year: Alters of Grief, Rivers of Nihil, Primordial all have released strong records. Recently we had the new album from A Perfect Circle – some 13 years in the making and an album I was very excited about hearing. Sadly, I’m not impressed with it at all. Thank goodness then for the new album from Tesseract called Sonder.
Firstly, I want to address the running time for this album. It comes in at under 40 minutes and I believe this is a masterstroke! Upon listening to the closing notes of The Arrow, I immediately hit the play button again. I’d much rather have 9 or ten tracks of quality and a running time of under 40 minutes than 13 to 14 tracks with some filler (I’m looking at YOU Stone Sour and A Perfect Circle!).
Tesseract has always been about strong songwriting and quality musicianship and both of these elements have been elevated on Sonder. The production and mixing are excellent, allowing the subtleties of each instrument to rise at various times. The album is rich in texture, it has moments of crushing heaviness, delicately balanced alongside moments of haunting melodic beauty, perfectly encapsulated on the opening track, Luminary. The vocals of Daniel Tompkins have always been a highlight and on Sonder, his rich and powerful voice takes you on a never-ending, often breathtaking journey.
You want riffs? Sonder has them. The opening riff to King is heavy enough to shake the foundations of wherever you stand and Tompkins vocals flutter between delicate croons to throat-shredding screams. Listening to this song repeatedly reveals more every time, it is simply immense. The album’s centrepiece is the 11 minute plus Beneath My Skin/Mirror Image, a track that runs the gamut of everything Tesseract is; jarring guitar patterns, big vocals, melodies, thoughtful lyrics, it’s all here in a defining song that reaches unfathomable highs.
In case you failed to notice, I love this album. Sonder is their best to date, eclipsing even the mighty Polaris. Album of the year so far.