Live Review : TesseracT + Between The Buried And Me @ Academy 2, Manchester on November 28th 2018

Welcome to Clash of the Titans: the polyrythmic, ever shifting time signatures edition. If you like your metal complex, intelligent and highly technical then this is probably the finest double header you will find. First out the gates are Between the Buried and Me and without wanting to get a reputation as the reviewer always moaning about the sound, Tommy Giles Rogers Jnr's vocals are just about audible. Now usually this would annoy the hell out of me but, truth be told, I would be gushing lyrically about Between the Buried and Me even if our Tommy did his entire vocal delivery via the medium of mime. The joy of watching this band is seeing the five of them work together to create such a thick, intricate, interwoven cathedral of sound. It’s like observing master craftsmen going about their tasks and astonishingly within this dense, layered and precise musical architecture that they construct, they are still somehow able to make room for improvisation. Their tightly regimented and prescribed musical tapestry is given warmth by these consent flourishes of spontaneity and random dashes of what can only be described as jazz (“nice”). At the end of the day, that is exactly what is marvellous and utterly unique about Between the Buried and Me. They are not a metal band, they are a jazz outfit, it's just that this jazz combo are playing heavy metal. 

Come Round 2, The Academy 2 (MDH to you and me) is heaving as the sold out sign has been up for weeks. Even with an undercard as solid as Between the Buried and Me this is still a major victory for TesseracT as their ascent up the metallic ranks has been so painfully slow. They have been plying their highly technical blend of math rock and pop prog for over fifteen years with merely splutterings of success and it has only been the last few years that they have finally started getting any sign of recognition that they deserve. In fact you could argue they set the template for this type of music, but have never gained the plaudits. But it seems they are finally being revealed as the hidden treasure that they are, and what is particularly heartening about the evening is the reception given to tracks from their first album as this suggests that the majority of tonight's crowd have been with them all the way through this journey (or are very good at swotting up on Spotify). 

If you want to know what TesseracT sound like imagine Meshuggah fronted by the geezer from Maroon 5 and it is that element of fusion and juxtaposition that makes them so intriguing and enticing. Tonight Dan Tompkins vocals are simply incredible as they are soulfully, passionately and heartbreakingly delivered. The music behind it is tight layered, precisely orchestrated and almost autotronic (I do need to point out the sound is spot-on). On its own it could come across as cold and repetitive but pour on top Dan's beautiful voice and they melt in together to create a wonderfully rich pop-prog hybrid. As said there is a strong emotional connection between band and fans, this is not a passive audience here for a gander. The set is evenly split between the four records and everyone of the predominantly stylishly bearded under thirties crowd sing along with gusto to every word (and for the record Johann and I were the eldest people here by a good ten years). TesseracT may not have broken into the mainstream yet, but this certainly wasn't a typical metal crowd so maybe their poppy math prog may yet propel them to the conscious of the wider public (though going on their track record it could take another fifteen years).

Words by Stewart Lucas
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki