I have slightly weird experience when listening to every Tesseract album for the first time. The music starts and after a couple of songs I say to myself “this is crap, I don’t like it, the last one was way better.” And after a couple of listens, when the first impression fades and more subtle feelings emerge I end up liking or even loving (in the case of Altered state) every single one. I mean, there are only three of them, but nevertheless I haven’t experienced something like this with any other band.
That was especially prominent with Polaris. I hated Altered state, I mean really hated it. Djent without any growls, snarls or any kind of harsh vocals? I was like “C’mon you have to be kidding me”, but after a couple of listens I realized that heavenly serene clean vocals delivered by Ashe O’Hara are a perfect match for the kind of music Tesseract plays. I ended up loving it and it is still one of my favorite albums from the last couple of years, and the best djent album I have heard to this day.
And then came Polaris, I expected Ashe to deliver once again, but before I started playing it, I learned that Daniel Tompkins, the original vocalist featured on their brilliant EP Concealing Fate and first album One, has returned. And as soon as the first track started I said to myself “this is crap, bring back Ashe, please!” But after a while I realized that Daniel has really got better at singing and that, while not as good as Ashe, he can be a decent replacement.
The music found on this record isn’t much different from previous albums. Math/djent metal with lots of basses, down-tuned guitars and a little bit of progressive spice sprayed on top of it. It isn’t grand as Altered State, or innovative as One, but it’s a decent listen. The music isn’t as heavy as on previous albums, the songs will not get into your ears at the first listen, you won’t experience any goosebumps while listening to it, but it is still a solid math/djent release.
The album pace gets slightly broken after 4th song, Tourniquet. I don’t know why, but the songs that come after it just aren’t as memorable as the first four, but there are a couple of them that can be considered standouts, like Utopia and Cages. All in all, Polaris is a decent album, it should be checked out by Tesseract fans, but if you want to listen to this band for the first time I recommend Altered State as the first stop. It is still their best album to date, and while Daniel isn’t really bad vocalist (he improved very much since his mediocre delivery on One), Ashe O’Hara is the best choice for the kind of music they play, at least in my humble opinion. If any member of the band read this, please, bring back Ashe. I’m certain that with him, Polaris would be much, much better.