The band’s Amos Williams details the immersive universe of band’s fifth album and reiterates why TesseracT are innovators in their space.
While progressive stalwarts TeseseracT have spent the last decade cementing a legacy built on innovation and forward-thinking in the space of heavy music (reference the band’s 2021 live opus ‘P O R T A L S’), so much about their fifth studio effort proved especially audacious.
Launching War of Being earlier this summer, the album’s title track along with a stunning, cinematic visual set an powerful precedent – emphasizing that even for band that has long been championed for coloring outside the lines, this album was intended to far exceed any expectation.
Crafting an expansive, immersive universe in “The Strangeland,” the protagonists of the album’s imaginative plotline ‘ex’ and ‘el’ awaken following a crash landing of “The Dream”. Confronting a nemesis known only as “Fear”, a journey of self-discovery and resilience begins creating the narrative framework of War of Being.
Given the grandeur of such a vast, far-reaching concept, the band’s execution of the album was equally revolutionary. In addition to the succession of cinematic music videos like the album’s introduction and “Legion”, TesseracT took on the added labor of launching an accompanying video game that augmented the album’s story. The game also served as a unique platform to launch another single from War of Being, with “The Grey” adding to the layered epic unfolding with each entry of the project.
Long celebrated for their unconventional approach to heavy music and outsider art, TesseracT sought to surpass even their own creative threshold and succeeded wildly with War of Being. From concept to execution, sight, sound and added style points, TesseracT reiterated their rank as one of the most progressive, innovative units in guitar-driven music.
To better explore the breadth of such an all encompassing creative achievement such as War of Being, TesseracT’s Amos Williams took Knotfest for a track-by-track dissection of the album. Detailing the ambition of the songwriting and the broad thematic vision at the heart of the project, Williams better frames the epic journey that is their fifth album and how progressive metal has another opus to add their archive.
Williams – Not only was this the first track TesseracT debuted in a live scenario, but this is also the opener to our story. The premise is that The Dream has crash landed into The Strangeland, and our protagonists, ex and el, encounter a ferocious creature called Fear.
Separated by this monster we experience their panic and determination to survive as they are driven apart. Musically this song sets up the dramatic and dark edge we wanted to explore with this album/theme. There’s aggression and a deep groove countered with euphoric melodic sections that add an air of hope to the oppressive heaviness.
Williams – This track is lighter in tone, more of a traditional TesseracT pop tune – if anything like that is possible. Even within this, no section repeats in the same manner. In fact, it’s the very aspect that we employ to highlight the evolution of the characters from one form to the other, as we introduce the character arc of el, and her future evolutions of The Scribe, and Knowledge.
“Echoes” suggests that they are following whispers and breadcrumbs towards some unknown destination, as they struggle through The Strangeland on their own journeys. The second verse and chorus are highlights for me in just how TesseracT are now in a position in their career when they can experiment massively and get away with it. This track has hints of Linkin Park/Nine Inch Nails and was a forerunner for a single as a result. I don’t believe we’ve employed such an overt electro influence as on “Echoes”.
Williams – Musically this feels very TesseracT to me. We are back on familiar ground here. It’s got that chunky intro and outro riff that is countered by an intricate groovy verse, and soaring chorus(es). The development is clear though, here. There are punchy and frantic passing sections and a couple of tension building pre-choruses, as well. These all lead us to introduce the character arc for ex, in the small, mute, and afraid boy that is The Grey. The lyrics and the energy of the music all help to convey the sense of frustration and panic that The Grey lives in.
Williams – This song… what can be said other than, ‘Where the fuck did that come from?‘ This was probably the last song that we fully developed whilst at the studio and is, as such, the most collaborative between everyone that was there – band and producers alike.
The seeds of the song are very old, some 6 or 7 years. The scratchy reverse dead notes played on the bass that we built the foundations of the first half were recorded on the other side of the globe a lifetime ago. And the second half all came together in one afternoon on a rainy summer day in deepest, darkest Devon.
And man, did we need to exorcise something with this track! Thematically, it introduces further to ex and Fear, as ex begins to realise what he has become and why el has been driven away.
Williams – This explores regret and anger at oneself over failing to adhere to a dream. Not only of what might have happened between two people, but also what damage an incident of breakdown can have upon yourself. To break that trust with yourself is just as bad as to do it with someone else.
This is the most dynamic of the songs musically and mirrors the epic journey our characters undertake in rediscovering themselves and each other in the contrast between the beginning and the end of the song.
“WAR OF BEING”
Williams – “You can’t release an 11-minute comeback song,” they said. “You can’t make it an animated motion capture featurette,” they said.
If ever there was a song that expresses all and everything that is TesseracT to date, this is it. We experience The Strangeland itself here. The first hint that in fact, we are lost in a subconsciousness here. Abstract thoughts manifest into warring fighters, locked eternally in a battle. Not to win, not to survive, but to struggle.
This is some of the hardest music to execute with precision we have ever laid down. This is a banger from second to second.
Williams – As we enter the final third of the album, we come to the end of ex and el’s struggle, and a remorseful tone, yet one of acceptance takes over the album. Knowledge, sitting in the shadows of her self-created protection/prison awaits el and Fear, who has been stalking her across The Strangeland. Musically this really is the most un-TesseracT piece. No solid beat, no riffs, not ambient, but very nebulous.
Williams – TesseracT are lucky we can give you a funky ballad. In some respects that is what you are getting with “Burden”. Everything is turned on its head for this lament.
Thematically, this is equally confusing until you accept that as we are dealing with an allegory for the mind and memory, time is non-linear. And as such, ex and el have been encountering future versions of themselves, and parallel versions of themselves.
We cover The Scribe accepting the cyclical nature The Strangeland. She has always known her fate, she is el, she is Knowledge and she must keep walking forward regardless of what happens to her as she is subsumed into The Dark Waters of The Strangeland and transmutes into Knowledge.
She can also do nothing to stop the same process in ex, as he in the form of The Grey (encased in the wreckage of The Dream as The Mechanical Man) loses his battle with Fear, Fear’s Legion, and His / Her Black Dogs. He too must pass from one form into the next, otherwise ex/el will never escape this land, and will never be able to take the long walk home through the debris of their lives.
Musically this track is an ever-evolving stack of mechanical grooves that switch in such twisting ways that I cannot wait to perform it as it’s a wild ride.
Williams – Our ending is all about doing the work to start again. To walk through the debris of your journey and the choices that brought you the here and now. To own those choices and take responsibility for your part in those events. To pick up the pieces of your dream, and to carry them home, to build a new one.
The sombre nature of this track really brings that to the fore in my mind. It is also a little like we flick through musical memories, with a sense of nostalgia. ‘War Of Being’ may be seen as a magnus opus by many of our fans, but to us it is another step in our journey as we once again piece together the wreckage of ourselves and start to live again before the next album.
Every song on this album is crying out for an accompanying video, the imagery that could pair with this one is off the scale epic…maybe one day. Musically this has one of the most silly ridiculous TesseracT slap guitar and bass moments…Acle is equal parts madness and genius.
In addition to the new album and the ambitious accompanying video game, TesseracT are prepping for a worldwide tour set to begin this fall. The comprehensive global trek will extend through May 2024 where the band will close out the run in Tokyo, Japan.
TesseracT will touch down in the U.S., Europe, the UK, Asia and Australia, with support from Intervals, Unprocessed, Alluvial, and The Callous Daoboys on select dates. A complete list of dates can be found below.
War of Being is now available via KScope. Order the album – HERE
TESSERACT US TOUR DATES:
10/5 — Charlotte, NC — The Underground
10/6 — Charleston, SC — Music Farm
10/7 — Norfolk, VA — Norva
10/8 — Baltimore, MD — Rams Head Live!
10/10 — Chicago, IL — House of Blues
10/11 — Pittsburgh, PA — Roxian Theatre
10/13 — New York, NY — Irving Plaza
10/14 — Boston, MA — Paradise
10/15 — Philadelphia, PA — TLA
10/17 — Montreal, QC — Corona Theatre
10/19 — Toronto, ON — Danforth Music Hall
10/20 — Grand Rapids, MI — Elevation
10/21 — St. Louis, MO — Red Flag
10/23 — Denver, CO — Summit Music Hall
10/24 — Salt Lake City, UT — The Depot
10/26 — Seattle, WA — The Showbox
10/27 — Vancouver, BC — Commodore
10/28 — Spokane, WA — Knitting Factory
10/29 — Portland, OR — Hawthorne Theatre
10/31 — San Francisco, CA — Regency Ballroom
11/1 — Los Angeles, CA — The Regent Theatre
11/3 — San Diego, CA — Observatory North Park
11/4 — Phoenix, AZ — Nile Theater
11/5 — Albuquerque, NM — Revel
11/7 — Dallas, TX — The Granada Theater
11/8 — Austin, TX — Emo’s
11/9 — Houston, TX — Warehouse Live
11/11 — Tampa, FL — The Orpheum
11/12 — Atlanta, GA — Buckhead Theatre
11/13 — Nashville, TN — Brooklyn Bowl