I have never been a huge fan of live albums. I guess I always figured that if I wanted to hear a band live, I should go to one of their shows. However, there have been a few exceptions; Y&T – Open Fire, Danko Jones – Live at Grona Lund, anything from Rush, anything from Bob Schneider, and anything from Umphrey’s McGee. The reason I like the live albums I like is the energy. Sometimes it is that a live version of a song is better than the recorded version, or there is that little something extra that puts them over the edge. So when I heard that TesseracT was coming out with a live album, I was a bit skeptical. Now mind you, I was in no way skeptical of TesseracT’s ability to play live, I just was not sure how the energy of their music would translate in a live recording. Recorded live over 42 nights during the autumn of 2014 throughout Europe and Russia on the Altered State World Tour, “Odyssey” will be released on May 18th in Europe and May19th in North America on Century Media Records.
TesseracT’s 2013 album, “Altered State,” featured vocalist Ashe O’Hara. In the Summer of 2014, O’Hara left the band. Daniel Tompkins, vocalist from their 2011 debut album, “One,” returned to the band to sing on this tour and album. From the crowds response when he hits the stage during opener ‘Singularity,’ they definitely approve. TesseracT then launches into familiar territory for Tompkins: ‘Concealing Fate’ Parts Two (“Deception’), Three (The Impossible’), Four
and Five (‘Perfection/Epiphany’). The band is perfect, of course, and Tompkins sounds like he never left. The intelligent crowd sings along to make sure he has not forgotten any of the words.
The next section is Tompkins real test. TesseracT moves forward into the ‘Of Matter’ trilogy from “Altered State”: ‘Proxy,’ ‘Retrospect,’ and ‘Resist.’ Tompkins does a great job of staying true to the original recordings, as well as putting his touch on them to make them his own. Again, you would think the band was miming to the cd as tight as they are.
TesseracT keep the crowd going by performing two of their more popular songs back-to-back: ‘April’ and ‘Nocturne.’ Tompkins introduces the final song, the epic ‘Concealing Fate Part One - Acceptance,’ announcing there will be no encore. This does not stop the crowd from chanting “ONE MORE SONG” as the album fades out.
One thing I do not like about “Odyssey” is the mix. Usually, live albums take their sound from the monitor board signal, giving the best mix of the band, along with a good smattering of crowd noise heard through the performer’s mics for effect. This record does not. It also does not have a “fake” live sound like KISS “Alive.” It is almost too “live” sounding, if that is possible. I do not know if it is mic placement, room acoustics, or combination of both, but it actually sounds like you are in the front row with the crowd. For instance, during ‘Acceptance,’ when bassist Amos Williams does one of his low growls, you almost cannot hear it. There are also times when participants in the crowd sound like they are right next to you with their cheers.
Overall, TesseracT does a great job of presenting themselves, and their live experience with “Odyssey.” If seeing them play is not an option for you, this is the next best thing.