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Devin Townsend - The Retinal Circus CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend


Experimental/Post Metal

4.59 | 46 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars "The Retinal Circus" is the sort of in-depth, live retrospective that a fan of any artist dreams of, and Devin Townsend does it only as he can, in a silly, surrealist manner. Steve Vai narrates a loose narrative about a dreamer named Harold, tied together by selections from Devin's considerable body of work, and the proceedings are acted out by a Cirque du Soliel slew of acrobats, choir members, and dancers.

When Devin dives into one of his crazy concepts, be it the coffee-obsessed Ziltoid, or the boney landscapes of Casualties of Cool, the proceedings always manage to garner a commitment from his fan base. This is why he can announce something as off-kilter as Casualties, and his fans are more than happy to fork over five times the asking price.

This is why Devin needs to learn not to blink.

"The Retinal Circus" offers a perfect live audio and video experience for the fans. You get the sunny stuff from albums like "Epicloud" and "Ocean Machine," some dark stuff from records such as "Deconstruction," and the goofy stuff from "Ziltoid the Omnicient." God bless him, he even does a couple of Strapping Young Lad songs for headbangers who miss that stuff, and we know he probably didn't want to do that, but thank the good Lord, he grinned and screamed a couple of those old favorites for us anyway. There's nothing from great records like "Terria," but you can't cram 'em all in there.

Yet Devin doesn't seem sure if the whole concept of the show is working or not, and retreats into self-depreciation in that skittish manner he tends to do in interviews. No one's asking him to show Kanye West-levels of confidence in his work, but Devin seems like a guy who has difficulty taking a compliment. He doesn't need to slag off his live concept to appease those who may not think it's cool, it's icing on the music, but he does anyway as an unnecessary defense mechanism. It's the one thing that mars an otherwise brilliant showcase for his unique career.

HunterD | 4/5 |


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