June 5, 2012 by Dan Swinhoe
Why do we love acoustic versions so much? Maybe it’s the stripped down nature of the songs, or that it’s a great way to really test the songwriting quality of the bands we love. Maybe it’s just that rockers secretly love to kick back with a beer and some slow jams and get a little emotional, but find most actual acoustic bands trite and self-indulgent.
Inspired by an acoustic session they filmed in New York, UK Djent-ers TesseracT have released Perspective, a mostly acoustic EP showing off their more gentle side. Previously heard songsPerfection, April and Origin all get a reworking, switching seven strings for piano and acoustics.
The biggest event for the band since the release of their debut release One was vocalist Dan Tompkins leaving at the end of last summer. An integral part of the band, he left a huge stamp on the album and some big shoes to fill. Instead of trying to replace, the band opted for a shift to the more melodically inclined Elliot Coleman. This makes the seemingly innocuous acoustic EP is now a tester for fans to see how he new guys fares and compares.
From the off there’s a very different feel to One. The sense of drama and melody is still there, but the whole thing loses some of the ethereal nature of the originals. In lieu of that is a warmer, more laid back atmosphere. But the renewed clarity of the lyrics mean it retains a haunting edge. Acoustic versions mean much of the focus is on the vocals, the technical side of the band takes a step back to let Coleman stamp his mark. He does a really god job. His voice is more soulful, if less passionate than Tompkins, but he’s able to soar and carry the notes whenever he wants.
The band don’t skimp on showing off, with unplugged technical passages showing the band don’t need electricity to be a great band. The songs themselves hold up extremely well stripped of all the studio tricks. Always a good test of real songwriting,Perspective, regardless of the new vocalist, confirms TesseracT are quality musicians and deserve to be at the top of the Djent pile.
The only new song proper is a cover of Jeff Buckley’s Dream Brother. It’s a pretty straight cover, very faithful to the original’s eerie twists. Coleman’s pipes sound very similar to the late Buckley’s, he has far more of a croon, and it’s hard to imagine the band ever trying this song with Tompkins. It’s a great song, but it’s simple nature seems at odds with the more layered and expansive styles on the rest of the EP. Probably added for a laugh and to show off a bit more of Coleman.
Eden 2.0 has been around for a while, and was the first showing of new boy Coleman. Probably the easiest to compare to previous frontman Tompkins, version 2.0 has a smoother, more melodic feel. The only song on the EP to be fully electrified, it still sounds huge, mixing heavy staggered riffing with soaring vocals. Coleman shows he can easily deal with the clean side of the vocals, as throughout the EP, but so far hasn’t shown what (or if) he’s capable of on the screaming side.Whether he’s saving up for the next release or signals a move away from the heavier side of Djent is yet to be seen.
Perspective is a short and sweet hit of laid back acoustic jams. Coleman’s voice suits the atmosphere nicely and it’s hard not to like this, regardless of whether you’re a Djent/TesseracT fan in the first place. If Tompkins was still on vocals, this would’ve been a nice stopgap for fans, something to tide them over until the next album drops. But the introduction of Elliot Coleman has madePerspective more of a guessing game, leaving fans and critics wondering what they’ll come up with next.