UK progressive metal giants TesseracT took to the stage at Camden’s KOKO for the London date of latest European tour. On the back of the release of their latest album – Polaris, TesseracT were welcomed by a sold out crowd, who reflected the intense emotion and energy that the night’s performances brought to the capital.
Opening act and label mates Nordic Giants are progressive/post rock duo from Brighton. They performed solely instrumental tracks, mixed in with various vocal samples, in sync to a collection of hard-hitting sci-fi/alternative videos. The wacky yet eerie combinations of sounds they produced where the first thing that hit the audience. Bowed electric guitar, deep venue-shaking sub-synths and twinkling melodic lines above, set an atmosphere unparalleled to any live act I’d ever seen before! Regardless of whether the meaningful audio-visual performance was to your taste or not, the uncanny set from Nordic Giants left a heavy impact in your mind.
The main support slot, and good friends of TesseracT, was filled by the emphatic The Contortionist. From the moment they stepped on stage, right up until the final expansive chord struck by the band, the audience were in total awe. The American prog-metallers opened their set with a personal favourite of mine – ‘Language’ parts 1 & 2, which was on the recent re-release of their latest studio album Language. The fluidity and ingenuity evident in their song writing was further emphasised on stage by vocalist Michael Lessard, whom managed to effortlessly captivate the crowd and put us on a journey of aural experimentation and delight!
The contrasting heavier deathcore-esque sections allowed the crowd to open up several pits and really lock onto powerful themes exhibited by the band. Another notable feature of the band’s set was the use of lighting to add further emphasis to the mood set. From various colour arrangements to lighting-like strobes, the band was able to sync up the lighting to various musical moments. The lighting essentially acted like a 7th member of the band! The Contortionist performed a variety of tracks from their four-album discography and left the audience star-struck – a band truly representative of the word and genre “progressive”!
The evening so far had been a great experience, both opening up the mind and ears to a higher level of thought and aural capability. However, my body was ready to take on a whole new level of groove! Opening track “Phoenix” hit the audience with a powerful vocal line and unequivocal might and presence. Similar to The Contortionist, the use of lighting played a huge role in creating visual character. With the whole stage cleared up for TesseracT, the visuals created by bassist Amos Williams, dancing around whilst strobes were flickering, was simply mesmerising.
Moments of in-sync head banging to powerful rhythmic riffs, such as that of in the “Concealing Fate” parts 2 & 3, allowed the band to almost morph into one rhythmical being that surged huge amounts of energy into the audience. Albeit the visuals were absolutely stunning, the music was on another level. The 13 track set list featured songs off all 3 full-length albums and the band known for their tight and precise sound, truly lived up to it. I simply could not fault them nor find a mistake in their set.
Vocalist Daniel Tompkins belted out soaring melodic vocal lines effortlessly whilst groove machine and drummer Jay Postones was solid as ever. Without being cliché, this band operated like a well-oiled machine on stage. Scrap that… a high tech computer from the year 2150! A guest appearance by Martin Grech on track “Hexes” provided a stunning duet vocal performance, which contained beautiful improvised harmonies from both vocalists. The night concluded with two huge favourites of mine. The penultimate track featured Daniel Tompkins’ own take on “Nocturne”. Whilst the original track featured beautifully crafted vocals by the previous singer Ashe O’hara, Dan’s spin on the song was arguably even better!
The conclusion of the set came with “Concealing Fate Part 1”. Ironically, as this was the first track of the first release the band had put out, the choice of ending with this track made the set feel like it had some sort of cyclical feeling. Rather than an ending, it felt more like the band was completing a cycle. The whole venue belted out the lyrics back at the band and as we reached the final section of the track, and the lights went up – all around the striking venue you could only see faces of pure bliss.
Review by Dhylon Shah.
Photographs by Katie Frost Photography.