The British prog metal quintet TesseracT unleashed their furious fifth album, “War of Being,” back in September last year, marking the start of a European tour that began in Luxembourg at the beginning of January and stopped in Antwerp on Friday January 26th.
A small delegation of the Rockwell Unscene team were present at the fairly packed concert in the main hall of the Trix arena with 600 tickets sold and a few dozen more at the box office on the day of the gig.
The evening began with two supporting acts: the Americans of The Callous Daoboys and the Germans from Unprocessed.
At 7:15 PM, The Callous Daoboys, led by Carson “Big Animal” Pace, and for the first time in Belgium, offered a powerful dose of mathcore, fusing the characteristic intensity of the genre with the elegant touch of Amber Christman‘s violin.
They started off simple, with Carson growling over a thumping kick drum and towering bass, but quickly immersed us in their chaotic Hieronymus Bosch-esque canvas as they brought their opening track, “Star Baby,” to life.
The twin guitars of Maddie Caffrey and Daniel “Dip” Hodsdon spun wildly while the hurried rhythms of Matthew Hague, the drummer, propelled the march. Bassist Jackie Buckalew backed Carson with his guttural death vocals, a harshness that was countered by Amber Christman’s expansive violins.
All this was happening while everyone, except Hague, moved frantically and jumped around the stage as if they were possessed. The Atlanteans easily demonstrated that they can recreate their wild but elaborate melodies live, enjoying the moment to the fullest.
Just when they seemed to take a break with the backing track of “Sweet Caroline”, the band abruptly interrupted the song to resume with all their disruptive machinery. The Callous Daoboys surprised in chaotic and unique ways, but ultimately provided an excellent appetizer to open the evening.
Shortly after 8 PM, it was the turn of the Germans from Wiesbaden, Unprocessed, presenting a set more aligned with the style of TesseracT and who also released a new album in December last year.
The last time we attended an Unprocessed gig , they were toning down the metal presence in favor of a more R&B/rock fused sound. It seems that “Gold” (2022) was more of an experiment than a new beginning, since in this new album, “…And Everything In Between” (2023), they resume their forcefulness with a sound clearly rooted in djent and wrecking riffs.
The four-piece led by Manuel Gardner-Fernandes did not hesitate to start the setlist with the new songs “Hell” and “Lore”. Next, we took a brief tour of “Artificial Void” (2019) and “Covenant” (2018). The new song “Thrash” stole the show for its groundbreaking guitar-muted breakdown at breakneck speed.
Taking elements from the past and present, Unprocessed have achieved the perfect recipe for their new sound. Each performer interacted in an exceptional way, awakening a variety of emotions throughout their performance. Impeccable drum work, mastery of the strings, voices and energetic riffs that made more than one person in the venue jump and encouraged the sole pogo of the night.
As scheduled, TesseracT, the main band of the night, entered the stage at 9:15 p.m. Once again, their performance was the perfect meeting between djent dissonance and the most sophisticated of melodic progressive metal, this time in a more intimate setting.
The Brits started firing the new song “Natural Disaster” with a mysterious and defiant hooded Amos Williams standing on the pedestal normally occupied by Tompkins.
The band delivered a striking performance, focusing mainly on material from their last two long plays, especially the conceptual “War of Being” (2023) and “Sonder” (2018). The set included some older tunes as well, such as “Of Mind – Nocturne”, recalling the era when Ashe O’Hara was the vocalist. Vocals that are heavily layered on the latter album could be heard as backing tracks during the live show, giving Tompkins some leeway if he didn’t feel comfortable with a particular note. Without a doubt, Tompkins has one of the best voices in the industry. His range is impressive, and he has added new styles of distorted vocals on both the new album and the live show. In this sense, he highlighted the new song “Legion”, in which he hit some very high notes, and the distorted vocals in this song are some of his bests.
The light show certainly added to the overall stage presence of TesseracT. The lighting often highlighted the band as silhouettes, reinforcing the idea that the sound comes from the ensemble rather than just one of them. The show culminated with the hits “The Grey” and “Juno”, followed by the encores “Concealing Fate, Part I: Acceptance” and “Concealing Fate, Part 2: Deception”, offering fifteen memorable and farewell minutes.
Although brief (75’), it was a solid set. Every track was excellent, and the band explored its most intense moments.
Hoping that it won’t be long before we see TesseracT again on European soil, the night of January 26th left the audience and us longing for more.