TesseracT at O2 Institute in Birmingham

Whilst it’s always nice to discover something new, a bill stacked with artists you already love is also very welcome in the current climate of rising ticket prices. All three of the bands playing tonight released some of my favourite music of 2023 so I was particularly excited to see much of this new material performed live for the first time.

The Callous Daoboys open proceedings and though it is a strong performance, other factors hamper the experience slightly. For starters, the more chaotic and technical sections of their music struggle to retain clarity in a slightly muddy mix. This is particularly noticeable during the band’s newest material which is more reliant on extra layers of electronics and samples than their older, more straightforward mathcore tracks. Furthermore, the Daoboys struggle to win over an audience that is largely unresponsive to the band’s hardcore and mathcore elements. If this performance was at Outbreak Festival then they would go down a storm but sadly the crowd tonight seem to be saving their energy for when the djent begins. Nevertheless the band still give it their all, demonstrating an impressive range of harsh vocals that includes barks and pig squeals whilst performing with their characteristically silly stage presence, leaving what fans they do have down the front more than satisfied.

The Callous Daoboys

Thankfully the atmosphere is much more welcoming for Unprocessed. I was delighted to see the one-two punch of Hell and Lore open their set as it does on new album …And Everything In Between as they seem purpose-made for the occasion. Throughout their set the band maintain a balance between heavier epics and more commercial songs that still have some bite. This proves to be a great demonstration of how Unprocessed bridge the gap between the harsher, Meshuggah-inspired end of the djent spectrum with the more melodic and accessible stylings of Polyphia. Considering the technical nature of their material, it would be reasonable to be worried about the possibility of shoe-gazing during the band’s performance. Upon seeing how regularly bassist David John Levy spins and leaps around the stage, any such concerns disappear. Whilst I would have enjoyed hearing even more selections from their latest album, the band understandably include a few older tracks in the setlist, including closer Haven. After being relatively restrained in terms of lengthy solos for most of the show, the band finally let rip during an extended instrumental break in this final track and in the process convince me that I need to become more familiar with their earlier works. However, the real highlight of the set comes just before this in the form of singalong singles Deadrose and Glass, which should both be in the running for the title of genre classics.


With their last UK headline run taking place over five years ago, many of TesseracT’s fans will be seeing the band perform for the first time in quite a while. Thankfully their appetites are more than satiated by an intense performance that proves that the band have taken things to a new level on this album cycle. I will admit to not being quite as smitten with the new album as I have been with their past works. However, this material takes on new life in the live domain and provides many of the show’s highlights. Vocalist Daniel Tompkins is reportedly ill yet shows few signs of it, flawlessly recreating the vocal acrobatics of Legion. It was already impressive on record but it’s positively breathtaking live. Due to the new album’s critical acclaim and positive reception, it seems fair that a lot of tonight’s set is dedicated to giving that record airtime, with lengthy title track War of Being proving to be the centrepiece of the show and a fan favourite in the making. Whilst I personally would have liked to hear a few more tracks from the first three albums, when your catalogue gets to this length it’s hard to fit everything into 80 minutes without leaving out a few favourites. As the band return for a barnstorming encore of the first two parts of the classic Concealing Fate, the only real disappointment is that the set doesn’t continue into further parts of the suite.

For this tour TesseracT have made more of an effort to make their performance feel more like a show than just a gig. At various points Tompkins, accompanied by a sole strip of light he has dragged across the stage, dramatically recites key lyrical passages from the upcoming song. He also descends from the stage to the front barrier multiple times during the set, displaying a strong connection with the audience and a new-found mastery of crowd work. The production itself is a clear step up in presentation from their previous headline runs, featuring an array of strip lights and a wall of sparks that bursts into life behind the band during the climax of both Natural Disaster and Juno. It’s hard not to imagine what they could do with an arena-sized production on the level of Tool’s and with their recently announced headlining appearance at Radar Festival, they’ve got the opportunity to keep raising the bar. Take away all of the fancy production though and tonight has still been a thoroughly engaging display. It remains a pleasure to be able to see the musicians in all three bands recreate this challenging music in the flesh and up close. Each band already has plans to return to the UK this year and you’d be doing yourself a disservice to miss them when they do.

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