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.
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!
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)