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Tetrafusion: Altered State

Collage of the Present, Tears of the Past

When an established and successful instrumental act decides to add vocals into the mix, there are usually two possible options: a great new sound or a painful identity crisis. More often than not, the latter is the ultimate outcome. Fortunately, Louisiana-based prog metal act Tetrafusion has successfully made this transition without ever sacrificing the complexity and technicality that made them recognized in the first place. Altered State is an excellent slab of music that doesn't suffer from any of the genre clichés, but instead pushes the boundaries of what can be considered progressive metal. This album isn't perfect, but it has more than enough worthwhile material to deserve a purchase from any prog metal fan. If you're sick of Dream Theater wannabes and Opeth look-alikes, Tetrafusion is the band for you!

The music on Altered State is pretty difficult. Although their general tag is prog metal, that would be completely ignoring their copious influences from jazz rock, djent, and post rock/metal. Tetrafusion is an eclectic and one-of-a-kind act, and it's precisely this unique identity that makes Altered State such a joy for me to listen to. Imagine that Dream Theater got together with Radiohead and Muse to have a jam session with Between the Buried and Me and Meshuggah, and you've almost got an accurate description of Tetrafusion. Compositionally speaking, the album isn't perfect, but the band's adventurous attitude and breathtaking technical capabilities assure me that more strong compositions will only come in time. Even so, despite a few dull moments, the vast majority of Altered State is an excellent album. Songs like "Collage of the Present", the slightly twisted "Monologue", "The Deserter" with its excellent organ solo, and the atmospheric "Shadows" are some highlights, and the rest of the album is good as well. Aside from their unique sound, another major asset to Tetrafusion's music is the excellent musicianship. J.C. Bryant's drumming always stood out to me, though the other musicians are equally superb. Overall this is a very professional-sounding act that can handle incredibly difficult passages with ease.

The production is another great thing about Altered State. The clean, crisp, and modern sound is simply unbeatable.

Conclusion:

Although Altered State has a few kinks to smooth out in the songwriting department, there's more than enough excellent material here to keep me coming back for more and more. I have a great appreciation for young acts who have an adventurous attitude, and that is exactly what Tetrafusion has shown here. Fans of prog metal that want something that's not just a re-hash of something they've already heard will undoubtedly enjoy Altered State. I'm going to go with shiny 4 stars here. This excellent American band isn't one you want to miss out on!


Track Listing
1. Collage of the Present (9:41)
2. Monologue (4:45)
3. Last Chance (5:28)
4. The Deserter (6:54)
5. Altered State (5:08)
6. Shadows (6:00)
7. Tears of the Past (12:39)

Added: January 23rd 2011
Reviewer: Jeff B
Score:
Related Link: Tetrafusion Website
Hits: 2272
Language: english

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Tetrafusion: Altered State
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-01-23 13:01:24
My Score:

Another pleasant surprise has crossed my path in the form of the Louisiana based technical progressive metal band Tetrafusion. However, to paint these guys with only a progressive metal brush would be doing the band a disservice as they are not so easily pigeonholed. Fusion, jazz and post rock also enter the mix to make what is a well-crafted and extremely well played album. These guys have wicked chops but the music never sounds over indulgent or too calculated, all the while retaining a high level of complexity. This is adventurous stuff and a great all around listen.

The players are Gary Tubbs (lead vocals, keyboards, synths), Brooks Tarkington (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals), Mark Michell (7 string bass, fretless bass) and J.C. Bryant (drums, percussion). The band's first album entitled Absolute Zero was an all instrumental affair so it may came as a surprise the new album Altered State features the lead vocals of Tubbs with Tarkington adding backing vocals. You need not worry as the vocals are fine. While neither have overly powerful voices they are quite pleasant to listen to and suite the band's post rock approach rather well. As a matter of fact, the vocal arrangements are quite clever and make this music that much more interesting. This is an intense, wild ride that all fans of complex progressive music will want to take, without venturing into the same old prog metal territory that so many of today's bands seem to take.

The band does a superb job mixing the heaviness with mellower atmospheric sections and no better example of this is the album's first track "Collage of the Present". Tight rhythms and heavy riffs give way to understated keys and moody guitar solos. The vocals are pleasant and serve the song well. "Monologue" features excellent backing vocals, syncopated rhythms and heavy riffs slicing through the softer moments. Post rock and prog metal blend seamlessly in the ambitious "The Deserter" where the band even serves up a psychedelic guitar solo whereas the instrumental title track features fast/slow tempos and interesting guitar work throughout.

The band saves their best for last with the epic "Tears of the Past" combining post rock, prog metal and jazz for a unique concoction that will surely please fans of progressive music. Throw in some nice melodies and excellent backing vocals and we have another winner.

This is a fine sophomore effort from one of the better US bands I have heard in a while. Kudos to the band for making music as beautiful as it is complex.




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