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Devin Townsend - Casualties Of Cool: Casualties Of Cool CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend


Experimental/Post Metal

3.90 | 205 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars 'Casualties of Cool' is not just the name of this album, but it is the name of the project of both Devin Townsend and Che Aimee Dorval and was released in 2014. Che has participated in some of Devin's other projects, but this is the first one that actually has full collaboration from the both of them. If you expect this to be another of Devin's heavy albums, though, you better think twice. Not to say that this is not a great album, because it is and it demonstrates the genius behind both artists. Now, you can hear hints of Devin's sound in this, but the shocker is that these songs are based around country, blues, psychedelic and ambient music. In other words, if country music could be progressive, this is what it would sound like.

Don't let the country moniker scare you away though, because if you do, you will be missing something that is quite excellent here. You know if Townsend is involved, that you will get an end result totally unique, and Dorval's added collaboration only strengthens it. Many other musicians are also involved in creating the music on this album. The album is a concept album in that there is a sci-fi style story line behind it all. A man living on a moon with nothing but an old radio listens to old style songs to try to avoid his fears, that is the concept in a nutshell. All of the songs are tied together in that they run into each other like a continuous suite almost. Many of the tracks also have sections that involve different styles to help keep the storyline cohesive.

Starting out with 'Daddy', Dorval sings the vocals and the feeling is definitely inspired by country music, but there are shades of psychedelia in there, especially when moving to the next track. The song is great, it is something definitely new and unique, yet tied to old styles. 'Mountaintop' features Townsend's airy vocals, they are strong, yet light, and definitely far away from his extreme vocals. Again, there is that lush and beautiful texture to the music and it continues with a nice upbeat song, but somewhere towards the end it veers off into psychedelic and ambient territory, yet sounds just like it should be doing that, not just something 'glued' together, but moving there naturally. It's this ambience that takes us into 'Flight' and a beautiful mix of acoustic guitar and lovely electronic effects that create the texture.

'The Code' has a snappy toe-tapping rhythm, but with the echo-y sound especially in the vocals that keeps things mysterious and unique. There is even a nice Walter Becker style guitar solo in there. The sound of frogs tie the tracks together as 'Moon' starts, which has a rhythmic base similar to 'Run Like Hell' from Pink Floyd, but the similarity ends there in this track which is more of an ambient sound, but with a percussive effect that almost sounds like a train chugging far off in the distance. Layered harmonies and a sax keep the other-worldly sound along with the lush texture. The dying sounds of the end of that track carry us into 'Pier' which is an instrumental ambient/psychedelic track as the trance-like feel breaks slowly down as the track continues turning the train sound to the sound of ticking clocks, which slow down even more signifying time passing more and more slowly. 'Ether' picks up the tempo again as Devon and Che harmonize with their beautifully layered vocals. The hazy sound of the track reflects the title quite well.

'Hejda' is another psychedelic and experimental track that brings in a tribal rhythm and Native American feel with the tribal flute, and various other effects and a few subdued vocals. Very spacey and traditional at the same time. 'Forgive Me' has the folk-blues vibe along the lines of Dire Straits, but mostly with Che's vocals and later with those lovely, other-worldly harmonies. 'Broken' is almost cinematic with a chamber male choir and almost symphonic sound. 'Bones' is a pensive track featuring Che, a sitar and a lovely melody with an almost European feel. 'Deathscope' builds a boogie sound ala Johnny Cash style. But this isn't Cash, it's Townsend, so be careful where you step. You might line dance yourself into a black hole. You haven't heard anything like this, I guarantee that, and that is what makes it sooooooooo coooooool. The last half of the track goes completely ambient and eerie. I told you to be careful, but you didn't listen.

'The Field' manages to pull an acoustic guitar out of the ambience with a nice western style ballad. I only have one word, Brilliant! 'The Bridge' has got a peaceful and lovely mid-Eastern vibe to it in the beginning. It builds slowly and becomes quite cinematic and amazing, especially with the choir effects and subdued vocals. But when the climax hits in the middle and towards the end, it will take your breath away. After that, it calms again and soon Devin sings in his head voice. This music is Zen! Absolutely gorgeous. 'Pure' begins with a wind effect and a solo Native American flute to act as a cool down for that last track.

This is one of those albums that is meant to be played as an album. Together, this is a musical experience that is so hard to describe, it just has to be heard. There is a 2nd disc included with the special edition that has outtakes from this album along with alternate versions. It also contains some songs that were recorded for the scrapped 'Ghost 2' project, and it works better as a separate entity from this amazing album, yet it is still worth your while to get.

This album is without a doubt one of the best that Townsend has a hand in, and that is saying a lot. The sound of the music is literally out of this world. It is like you are listening to regular music as you are falling asleep (if you have ever done this, I think you know what I mean), or like your head is in a fog and all of these beautiful sounds and textures are melding together and going into your ears. You just have to listen to it to understand, but I mean to really listen and not have anything else going on. There is so much to grasp here and the genius of Townsend and Dorval is undeniable. No doubt that this is an essential album that sounds like nothing else.

TCat | 5/5 |


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