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Devin Townsend - Devin Townsend Project: Epicloud CD (album) cover

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: EPICLOUD

Devin Townsend

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.92 | 370 ratings

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Wicket
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Addicted 2.0?

That's kinda what it sounds like. The unmistakable gospel choir "Effervescent!" heralds in a positively positive "True North", which literally couldn't sound more like the happiest song ever if you tried. Until halfway in where the choir and the reverb and the screams and orchestral samples come int. Then it sounds exactly like "Deconstruction".

Even just from this first sample of this album, it's obvious that multiple influences are in full force on this album, and yet have become so commonplace that it's part of Townsend's signature sound, and only oddball experimentations with the darker, more somber aspects of music (off "Ki") tend to be one-offs unto themselves.

When the catchy "Lucky Animals" kicks in, I'm reminded of "Bad Devil" off "Infinity", and this album really does seem to sound like a newer interpretation of the album, and thus the comparisons between the material on "Infinity" and this album are uncanny (except perhaps less reverb on here than on "Infinity", which is surprising). But a big difference does seem to come from a more focused attempt on songwriting over sheer "drown out your ears in a sea of reverb". "Liberation" seems like a perfect example. It sounds like another pop-rock song that's waiting for a huge dose of guitar reverb to drown out your soul, but the echo is more reserved for the vocals, perhaps in a more bombastic spectacle, but frankly more effective on this type of song than just pure guitar chords. Not to mention it's another happy sounding song.

"Where We Belong" takes the foot off the bombastic pedal for a bit and actually tries to ballad its way to your heart, and isn't a bad attempt at all. It's a little reminder of "Biomech", DT's first solo album, where the first half of the album focused on creating catchy, beautiful tunes and use a hint of echo and reverb to create an angelic atmosphere that just washes over you and completely sucks you in to the music and never lets you go. "Save Our Now" meanwhile sounds like Townsend's take on a modern day anthem rock track.

Then interestingly, we get to "Kingdom", a remake off DT's "Physicist" album of 2000, and frankly a surprise track to here following a cushy, radio-friendly song like "Save Our Now". While I personally love "Kingdom" (and frankly, the entire album of "Physicist"), it almost feels to reverb-y and too heavy chord wise for this album, although it absolutely makes sense from a bombastic point of view, which is definitely the theme of this album, I've decided. But perhaps it's just for the contrast, as "Divine" which follows it is a mellow ballad accompanied by Townsend's voice, along with backing vocals and some synth electronics.

And while "Grace" starts off mellow as well, it's not long before the distorted guitar chords and drums kick in and create another bombastic and brutal spectacle, once again headlined by DT's classic dissonant progression (which is actually a major seventh, in music theory terms.Not necessarily dissonant, but with the constant emphasis on the dominant, which is B natural on this track, the major seventh following the "Grace" chorus sounds dissonant until the progression decends a half step each time before the choir hits the major fifth, and the cycle repeats again).

And frankly the bombast continues, with the rip-roaring "More!", while "Lessons" channels a bit of neo-classical Tenacious D acoustic picking, while "Hold On" begins as a down-tempo retreat from the bombast before the big chords open up just in time for you to pull out your lighter to sway with the rhythm, finally closing out the album with "Angel", another big loud, bombastic track built for the finale of the album that it closes, which actually surprised me. I figured it'd be as underwhelming as "Addicted", but in that vein, it actually succeeded my expectations by actually being tighter and more pronounced with the musical theme of the album, which as I've said all along, has been big, bombastic, choir-filled arena songs. So that said, I enjoy this album thoroughly and is another one of DT's many great albums to reside in his catalog of insanity and genius.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

I also have the opportunity to go through the bonus disc of tracks as well (titled "Epiclouder", I believe? fitting) and frankly, this is just a collection of demos with enough material to constitute as a whole new album, but seeing as these probably weren't originally meant and recorded to be played together, I'm going to look at them as single track offerings and not group them together from an album specific viewpoint unless there's some dots I can connect between them all, so erase the pretensions of the previous album and look at this with an open mind, as it needs to with the acoustic ballad "Believe" that starts up this bonus disc.

"Happy Birthday" takes that acoustic sound and kicks up the tempo with Anneke Van Giersbergen once again providing some outstanding vocals as she has for this entire album. "Quietus" would've sounded right at home on "Ki", with the muffled drums, rhythmic plucking of the guitars and mysterious tone behind it all. "Heatwave" is a refreshing, nostalgic take on old time, rock 'n roll from the mad scientist himself, and "Love Tonight" is another bombastic track.

"The Mind WASP" is an unusual standout, an acoustic led track with a heavy foot, trudging through an exotic scale and key signature with hints of haunting synths and string samples setting the tone for a big showdown. Surely enough, halfway in, Townsend lets his pipes open up, and creates another huge spectacle, with screams and strings pounding their way to your ears.

"Woah NO!" is another interesting track. It opens with spastic guitar and sax solos ( a la John Zorn), before the traditional trudging guitar and drum combo punches its way to Devin screaming about something, probably about a rock that stuck in his shoe or something, before it turns into another big spectacle.

"Love And Marriage" stays on the softer side despite moving at a fairly brisk pace, but dynamically echoes "Ki" while also displaying some mad bits, including bell tones from backing vocals, more screams, and an impressive guitar solo. "Socialization" is the big epic off this bonus track, with hints of neo-classicism bathed in drums and noise a la "Deconstruction", while "Little Pig" finally ends in a very Pink Floydian acoustic waltz.

So, while the main album is worth getting, this bonus disc isn't worth sneezing at, either. While it's not exactly a must-have stand alone, thing, if you have the chance to get the bonus disc, get it, because it's got some own unique tidbits every Townsend fan should listen to.

Wicket | 4/5 |

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