Tesseract has been living under the curse known as "djent-itis" wherein band members leave, get replaced, and leave again. The cycle goes on. This curse is usually found within bands who play these two subgenres that tickle my ears- Progressive Metal and Groove Metal, summed into that one onomatopoeic word we call djent. I don't want to go around calling a band progressive-groove-experimental-electronic-jazzy-math-metal with technical polyrhythmic staccato guitar attack picking detuned to Drop Z, okay?! Deal with it.
To those of you who need a background check on the band, Tesseract reached its peak with Daniel Tompkins on vocals. This guy was the man! Being classically trained, it's a no-brainer to realize how impressive his voice would rise, scream and still be on key, and slickly slide back down to a haunting whisper. Too bad he decided to leave two years later even after they scored the Progressive Music Award for New Blood for their debut album One. Elliot Coleman (yeah, that dude from Sky Eats Airplane) joined the mix with his high-pitched vocals after Tompkins left, but the response was ridiculously mixed. There were some who loved him, but there were skeptical ones who didn't bother to get into Perspective, Tesseract's acoustic inspired EP with Coleman. A little less than a year later and completely out of nowhere, Coleman decided to part ways with the band, leaving Tesseract vocalist-less once again and shocking the entire djent community. This time around, the band had online auditions and fans went crazy with their submissions. We all waited for months to find out who the new guy was gonna be. Then bewm. A teaser was released, leaving us hanging for a while. We needed more! And then on October 12th, the most amazing thing happened. They released the new single entitled "Nocturne," and boy was it another opus. Upon hearing the new track, their new vocalist was revealed. This 22-year old, Ashe O'Hara took on the sweet spot of bringing us chills with his voice. Seriously, I felt like I was walking the seven thousand steps to High Hrothgar as "Nocturne" gave me goosebumps as well as the shivers. O'Hara's icy vocals were definitely what Tesseract and their fans have been looking for. It was as if Tompkins and Coleman conjured a voice with a range that rested perfectly in between theirs. It's just that epic.
"Nocturne" drops with a heavy crunching riff that slightly reminds my auricles of Deftones' "Diamond Eyes" (I dunno, maybe it's just me) except, with its very own Tesseract feel to it. Its dragging groove, which does not fail to show the strength the band's been known for, slithers on to an unexpected upbeat groove that instantly pulls you in. Then, the Fo Krah Diin-esque (Dov for Frost Breath, to those of you who are not familiar with ancient dragon tongue), atmospheric vocals of O'Hara are introduced for the first time. Layer over layer over layer... Over more layers tag teaming with ethereal guitars and whispers Laas Yah Nir-ing me (oh my god, I better stop thinking of Skyrim). Acle Kahney's signature scratching guitar riffs are still ever present together with James Monteith complimenting his rhythm, Amos Williams' bass slapping, and Jay Postones' ability to drum along to the incredibly intricate playing of his band mates. At 2:50, there is a moment to grab a breath of fresh air as the battle between you and snow storm subsides. Now, this is the part where you raise your eyebrows and sigh, "This song is so beautiful..." But it doesn't take very long until (I'm sorry, this will be the last) Tesseract Fus Ro Dah-s you off a cliff. It's pure genius.
All in all, "Nocturne" is one heck of a track and very much refreshing to hear a young voice blended to perfection with Tesseract's mix. Although I'll forever be partial to Daniel Tompkins' vocals, me and a whole bunch of Tesseract fans are open to whatever O'Hara has to offer. From "Nocturne"alone, I could tell that he's very talented and I can't wait to hear what else he could pull off his sleeve. Hopefully, this one really sticks around. I'd really like to see them release a bunch of full-length albums with him. Here's to you, Ashe!