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Devin Townsend - Infinity CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal

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5 stars The Canadian guitarist and vocalist Devin TOWNSEND is a very original musician. His career took off in 1992 when he got the honourable opportunity to sing on Steve Vai's "Sex and Religion" album. His own compositions are truly original and you probably won't find any other artists with Devin's approach to the music. He's a brilliant guitarist as well as vocalist, and his music is often very complex and experimental.

Some may find the distorted sound that is very present on this album quite disturbing, but if you're familiar with, and enjoy bands such as FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, PEACE, LOVE & PITBULLS, MINISTRY and SKINNY PUPPY, you'll probably enjoy this album, even if it's quite not comparable to these bands. But if you're mixing the aforementioned bands with Adrian BELEW, PpZ30, SLAYER, Steve VAI and Frank ZAPPA, you're quite close to how it sounds.

Some songs may sound like a massive noise if you're taking a quick listening, but if you're listening closely you'll hear that there's a melody behind it all. Then there's the other songs that are catchy and almost commercial (Christeen), groovy (Bad Devil), funny (Ants), power ballad-ish (Wild Colonial Boy) and beautiful dreamy (Unity). As you can see there's a lot of variation to the material, so you won't get bored with this album in a long time.

A very interesting album that will grow on you with each listening. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#18024)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a fantastic ride. Crazed Canadian master guitar smith Devin Townsend has a creative reserve that most of us would exchange a body part for.

With Infinity, Devin serves up a gorgeous, powerful opener, followed by the mostly straightforward and very rockin' "Christeen". So far so good, and the album seems promising to the first time listener - then things start to get really interesting.

"Bad Devil" sounds like no other Devin song. The horn section seemed really out of place to me at first, but subsequent listens have me driving home from work and singing along at the top of my lungs. What a rush.

Next up is a pop song you could really march to, as if heading off to war. A bit longer than the others, "War" leads to poor Devin begging for quiet before switching gears into a short ballad that serves as in into to "Soul Driven". For me, this is the weakest point of the album, though it's still quite good. Dev's down-tempo power rock is still miles above so much else.

I love "Ants". It's an insane circus-gone-mad; someone dropped an ant farm and the critters are running wild, singing as they terrorize the clowns and ringmaster. Or whatever. It's two minutes well spent though - experimental and begging for heavy sedatives.

With "Colonial Boy", we get another great sing-along chorus, this time in a waltz with singing cats. I'd normally run from something with that description, but it really does work.

The beautiful, longing beginning of "Dynamics" gives way to explosive and powerful screaming and power chords; exhilarating and nearly overwhelming. "Unity" picks up the pieces; a pleasant start gives way to growing levels of euphoria, while promising that "it's all right, now we're home".

"Noisy Pinkbubbles" sounds like a cast-off at first, but changes into a nice groove and becomes a solid closer.

Overall, highly recommended and deserving multiple listens. Another great effort from a very talented musician.

Report this review (#18026)
Posted Friday, July 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars I read that Devin Townsend's music is deeply rooted in grunge and industrial and that can be confirmed by listening, both styles are very much dominating his music. But I can't quite follow the link to progressive rock or metal. Certainly he's (ab)using massively keyboard textures, but LOTS OF doesn't mean all the times GOOD as well. He's probably in that way progressive that he might be the only one trying to mix all this rather noisy music done by industrial metal bands with some symphonic-alike sounds. But all this noise/music is just added up on top of each other, there is no real symbiosis, if you know what I mean. The result is really just noise more or less, of course there's still melody, but this kind of music is IMHO the real end of the rope. I mean you can't top this anymore, it's good for people who are already almost deaf because they are just listening to extreme loud metal music all the times. I listened three albums by him so far, from which I find "Accelerated Evolution" the only acceptable one, but even this one can't really fascinate me. The only track listenable here for me is "Unity", "Christeen" is a terribly commercial one and the rest terribly noisy. 1 star is the maximum I can give for this great piece of noisy art!
Report this review (#18027)
Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars As Devin notes in the liner notes: This album was a tremendous effort, extremely difficult to make. In order to fully appreciate it, you have to listen to it on a good hifi system. Many tracks were used, and on this album Devin really begins with his massive layering of sounds - dozens of instruments playing the same, creating a wall of sound.

The tracks are all great, and the ONLY reason for not giving this 5 stars is that Terria is even better ... so consider this a 4 1/2 star review. The tracks are all very different, every track sets a different mood.

Truth: This is a vocal oriented track, with a big choir in the chorus. I wonder where Devin get's his crazy ideas ... singing "Hallelujah" on top of these epic metal riffs.

Christeen: This is an up-tempo happy track which reminds of the Biomech album.

War: Bad Devil ends with a huge bang, which is also the begin of War. An amazing thing about this song is the sizzling keyboard layer that accompanies the whole song. And then there's some crazy 50s rock vocal lines: doo wop boddum... doo wapideewapideewapideedoo... and at the end of the song, some really amazing lyrics, which are indeed the beginning of the next track:

"Now that the love is gone

What's still holding on?

If all that was said was true...

What's still holding you?

If ever, you need someone there

Who's been there for ever

And ever, will waken the dawn

Awaken the dawn for you... "

Bad Devil: Outstanding. A swinging up-tempo track with a 8th shuffle feeling. Devin added tasty wind instrument sections and a crazy organ, and it's amazing how all these instruments remain clearly separated in the HUGE mix. About mid way through the song, there's this crazy break with a trombone solo, followed by some honky tonk piano bits. Awesome.

Soul Driven: This is the biggest and most majestic groove that I've ever heard, and again magnificent lyrics:

"The birth has occurred and the time has begun, it's the end of this age and the

preparations must begin for a new time that takes so much work and will hurt in the

beginning, change always does, and know strength is not something you buy or sell

through aggression and fear. Only love and acceptance of faith will convince you

that you're not alone and exist among friends so have patience..."

Ants: The most complex and weird track on the album. You'll have to listen in order to understand, it's just utterly bizarre.

Colonial Boy: love the majestic guitar riff of this track - it's essentially a waltz, which starts out as a 6/4 rhythm but occasionally shifts to a true 3/4 waltz rhythm.

Dynamics: This song starts fairly normal, but at 1:30 it explodes into a majestic groove similar to the one in Soul Driven.

Unity: A meditative track without distorted guitars. It just flows nicely, with lot's of activities going on within the layers of sound (beneath the surface, so to speak).

Nosiy Pink Bubbles: Another interesting song that's not so heavy as the others. It consists of two parts, the first resembling Pink Floyd's "Run like Hell", the second part more up-tempo with the typical weird Townsend vocals.

Report this review (#40079)
Posted Saturday, July 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of the most amazing albums i heard in the last couple of years! Bad Devil is the first Devin Townsend song i heard when they played it on the radio in Belgium in 1998 (they gave Devin alot of airplay on Metalopolis on Studio Brussel in those days). Bad Devil just blew me away with it's weirdness of broadway, jazz and deathmetal influences. I still wonder why I bought this album not right away instead of earlier this year. I also wonder why, except for Terria, i don't own all his other albums (the songs i heard are amazing).

The songs are very diverse, from more atmospheric songs like Soul Driven Caddilac to sing-a-long songs like Wild Colonial Boy and Christeen to extremely weird things like Ants.

The vocals are amazing, the production is perfect and the songs are full of emotion.

My favourite songs: Bad Devil, War, Christeen, Wild Colonial Boy

Anyway this album is my favourite Devin album, it's easier to get into than Terria, it think because it rocks more than Terria (which is also an amazing album with even more emotion than infinity)


Report this review (#57424)
Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I just got this album. No, I didn't just buy it, I just understood it...after so long of trying to comprehend it...I get it. And lo and behold, it is beautiful and amazing and majestic and badass and awe-inspiring and divine. Add another five star rating to Devin Townsend from me; this one is one of the most amazing releases ever.

While Terria feels like the story of the earth, Ocean Machine the story of the ocean, and Synchestra the story of all things good in life, this album is the story of the soul of mankind in relation to god. Yes, I will overinterprete that much. Maybe if you ever love this album as much as I do, you'll do the same. The journey of the human soul in it's purest and most raw form through life, that's what this is. From the birth to the midlife crisis to the calm at the end of life, this has it all. This is an epic voyage through life and the way god made the human soul.

The album opens up with the most majestic and amazing piece of music I've ever heard, simply entitled Truth. From the opening riff, you can tell it's gonna be majestic. Then Devy comes in with his high yells over those crazy guitar riffs, then everything turns perfect, and oh man, words cannot describe how perfect this song is. The absolute best opener ever. This is the revelation; the awakening; the birth of the soul, and all it is screaming is "OH HELL YES I AM ALIVE AND IT FEELS ****ING GREAT! HALLELUJAH!" You can feel that being cried out all throughout. Amazing. Truth turns into Christeen, easily the most accessible song on the album. It's more or less a pop rock song with tons of Devy-isms (such as lots of layering and odd touches everywhere). Great great song, lots of fun. This song, I feel, talks of early life, where the soul is free and full of life, and trying to find love, and looking optimistic and happy and finding love, even if there is none. The soul believes there is. Happy upbeat song to represent a happy and upbeat soul.

Next comes probably the most recognizable song on here from Devy fans, which is Bad Devil. This is essentially a big band rock song with awesome organ and a nice shuffle feel all throughout. There's a nice trombone solo interlude halfway through with finger snaps, a jazz keyboard solo. Good singing, and good drumming. What a fun song this is, haha. This song is when the soul gets older, around the teen years, where a person starts to learn of the risky and risque things in life...all the dark sides. It flirts with the dark side though, much like many teenagers. It hasn't been fully imbraced anything bad, but it knows it is all there. Following Bad Devil is another fan favorite, War. This has a shuffle feel as well, except slower. This is a little repetitive, but in no way bad at all. good vocals and lyrics, and the ending is very interesting. And how about that "doo-wap wawap, doo-wap wawap" section in the middle? Awesome. The end is kinda a preview for how weird the album is about to get, I think. This song I feel like is college years to about 25 years, where some hope for love is there, but it's more the soul is searching, trying to balance and stabilize their lives in the hectic life a young person leads...everything is being shoved on the soul and it screaming, "I DON'T WANT YOUR WAR!".

Next is Soul Driven, the first really "out there" song on the album. It's got a very majestic riff around it. It requires all the listener's effort to get anything out of it that's worth noting, and I still haven't gotten all of it. I have picked up on enough to love it though. It's super majestic all throughoutand the way Devy uses his voice is super cool. Something worth noting at 3:50-4:00 is that a melody from Stravisnky's Rite of Spring comes in softly and plays out a little bit. This is the part right before the deep voice comes in. It's just a real cool touch. I feel like this is the first breakdown of the soul, screaming out to whatever the soul worships and believes in, screaming, "WHAT THE ****?! THIS IS LIFE? HELP ME!". A cry to whatever one believes in. And the end I had trouble putting meaning to, but I feel like maybe it's saying how after this breakdown, life goes on as normal, frantic and whatnot for simple things, and the weird pop techno feel of what Devy is singing is how life happily goes on without you, breakdown or not.

Ants is next, and it is INSANE! You can almost see tons of little ants scurrying around to accomplish whatever they gotta do. So much layering here, it must have taken forever to produce. This song revolves around the frantic meaningless insanity of the human life and soul around the laundry! Make money! Make more money! It represents the soul running around like crazy trying to live, and they really have to go nuts to survive.

Wild Colonial Boy is another very good song. It takes some getting used to, as it's different in feel even for this album. This just feels like Devy is messing around a bit.'s not up to par with the rest of the album, but it's still good, and I like listening to it out of sequence with the rest of the album. If I had to interpret's the soul quietly on the side during the bussle of life, trying to say it still has some of that carefree freedom that we saw in's just muffled by the formality and retardedness of life. This is around age 40-50 now.

Dynamics is similar to Soul Driven, just done better and with a much nicer beginning. I like this song quite a bit...I mean, I already liked Soul Driven, and this is just a super-buffed up version of that song. The last three minutes absolutely tear my head off...this is the climax of the album, the last three minutes of this album. It's as hardcore and emotional and majestic as possible. This song is the second and final breakdown, starting to reach nearer to the end of your life, and saying..."My life has been one crazy as hell ride...holy CRAP! I'M ALIVE, BUT I'M LOST I'M LOST I'M LOST IN THIS CRAZY ****ING WORLD." It's another cry to god, more of a cry of asking what my life has been about, and the insanity of it all, and how nothing feels real and so on. The final screaming at the end of this song is the true climax of this album. It sums up the feel so well...just a mighty scream at the behemoth that is life.

Unity is the end of your life. It is the relaxing, the calming down..."I''m ok now...I'll make it, through this damned life of's almost over, and I'll enjoy what I have. It's alright...I'm home." I always feel like this is the grandparent stage of life, watching your kids grow, your grandkids, and just being happy for them, and relaxing yourself after working hard through the insanity all your life. It's a very peaceful song that could cheer anyone up. Wonderful relaxing feel. The end grows, symbolising how life is still insane, but the original peaceful melody and feel stays intact. Because it's alright. The soul is at peace. The song ends with a minute of silence..the fade out into death. But a peaceful fade out. Such a nice song, it's a little repetitive but so pretty I don't care at all. In fact it's one of my favorite songs on the whole allbum.

Noisy Pink Bubbles is plenty of fun, it's kinda a stoner-ish song, which is ok. It's well-done, and starts with some real funky stuff going on. The second half is more interesting yet. I can't even describe it or draw up comparisons, like I can't for most of this album because there's nothing else like it. It kinda has a Pink Floyd feel to it, almost. This doesn't fit into the story, because the story is over.

So basically, this album breaks down into two halves: the first four songs, which are the more accessible and more satisfying songs, and the next five having more focus on crazy layering and a rather divine feel. So divine the listener might not enjoy them, actually. But they are divine. For audio buffs a most here, and for anyone with patience, they will reward you greatly. Then...Noisy Pink Bubbles is in a class of its own.

I guess I more told of my interpretation of the album than anhything else, heh. But that's ok...just know it's a masterpiece. Very difficult to get into...very difficult. Thus, I wouldn't be surprised to see many people hate it. Those who get it, however...will not regret it.

Report this review (#61560)
Posted Saturday, December 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Lively - but not that deep.

I can't help but feel this album as much too commercial for my tastes. The industrial and grunge -like overtones make me cringe in so many different sections. While he certainly has talent and it would seem like great stage presence (being a frontman for Vai), after a few spins I'm left wondering what else there is to discover.

I think this would be a great place to introduce people to diverse music (prog, etc.) but too much of the songs lack enough artistic quality for me to enjoy it. You can tell Devin had fun with this, which is admirable, and I can certainly understand why people would like it, but there's not enough substance here for me. Songs like Bad Devil are humorous and such, with its holly/jolly type of shuffle beat, but at some point I'm looking for something inspiring and I've never found it on this record.

There's enough creative juice here to look into other Townsend projects, but I'd prefer it if there was a more serious tone to the music. This kind of stuff is only satisfying to me at social gatherings and such.

Report this review (#106929)
Posted Tuesday, January 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Devin Townsend fronts the extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad, as well as being an in-demand producer of metal groups like Lamb of God. The singer/guitarist has put out several solo records, either as Devin Townsend or the Devin Townsend band. "Infinity" is perhaps his strongest and most lyrical, and certainly his most diverse.

Townsend brings in SYL drummer Gene Hoglan to lay down the slamming rhythm tracks on this album. The moods range from mid-tempo pop to aggro to ambient. "Christeen" is a brilliant pop-rock tune with a catchy chorus, while "Bad Devil," the hilight of the album, is part metal part jazz and part god-knows-what. This tune segues into "War," a slow shuffle with Hoglan playing a subdued triplet feel under lush keyboards. DT's vocals soar over the instrumentation. As a vocalist, Townsend has a large range, and unlike most metal singers, his words are almost always disntinguishable--definitely a plus.

If I have one complaint about DT's production, it's the massive layers of synth pads. Simply put, his music doesn't need it, as it would sound just as full without them. The sound bleeds into the guitar tone, which is probably the point, but the album would sound less Steve Vai-ish (DT sang on Vai's "Sex and Religion") with at least a few more breaks from the synth onslaught. But this is part of Townsend's signature sound, and a relatively minor complaint.

Altogether, a brilliant album from a brilliant musician. Drummers will love Hoglan's playing, while non-musiicians will still enjoy the ecclectric and eccentric songwriting and shifting moods of the album. There's something here for metal fans, but the album is the very definition of "progressive." Enjoy.

Report this review (#115213)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars On Infinity, Townsend struggles to control his technique of orchestration using mass digital layering. Tracks like Unity lack cohesion, lack any real sense of dynamic thrust or vector, and the whole experience is somewhat like an Aural equivalent of drowning. That being said, this is Townsend, so when Infinity is good, it explodes. In Bad Devil, Devin controls the various layers, so that the whole thing keeps its aural integrity despite being a MASSIVE mix, and Truth actully benefits from becoming one big haze of noise. Absolutely no-one sounds quite like this except Townsend, so if you are looking for a new experience in music, this is the place to come.
Report this review (#155701)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars While it gets flak for not being as well-crafted as DT's later works, Infinity gets big points in my book for being very, very, fun to listen to. It's a many-layered symphony of technical metal with enough memorable guitar, vocal, trombone, and compositional moments to satisfy fans of heavy music, who will likely eat up Townsend's gigantic sound and effortless variety as a songwriter.

The opening number is a big, lush explosion of sound, giving way to a catchy, vocal driven number which will have the listener tapping their foot and singing along with DT's unique voice instantly. If you're not hooked by then, the haunted-house introduction and stellar riffing of Bad Devil will finish the job. Possibly one of my favorite DT songs, this one has so much crazy stuff happening I find it impossible NOT to get into-- nothing beats a bayou-trombone solo in the middle of a metal song!

The rest of the album is just as good, delivering a huge variety of sounds and songs to enjoy, with DT belting out memorable vocals and very unique guitar work; not to mention giving us a crisp, stellar production. A very fun listen and highly recommended to any considering checking out this exceptionally talented and entertaining artist-- a good first-buy.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#165599)
Posted Thursday, April 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
3 stars Second Devin Townsend's opus... Not his best, but still really interesting.

After the solid debut Ocean Machine, and having stablished Strapping Young Lad as a strong band, Devin came out with his second album under his own name... Infinity. This album has two important facts: the developing of the typical Devin's wall of sound, and having the best Gene Hoglan behind the drumkit (this kind of drums would be in his entire career after this album...)

These facts made Infinity having the sound that Devin would completely develope later... This well named wall of sound, really present in songs like Christeen or War. This wall is just layers and layers of guitars, keyboards and some noises, being the Devin's voice diminished in such a terrible buch of sounds, usually played fast. And this is the Devin's trademark style! In Ocean Machine it was not really implemented (maybe because the poor production...), but in Infinity, the Devin's proper sound was born.

This wall of sound would later evolve in the ultra-fast and very funny Physicist, a criminally underrated album, and in the environmental masterpiece Terria. The Accelerated Evolution pop-metal style is also based on this wall, and so is the phenomenal and variated Synchestra. In the Strapping Yound Lad's albums this sound is also present... And you can hear it in the wonderful Ziltoid the Omniscient too. But in Infinity, back in 1998, this sound was created by the grace of this genious.

But this album is different anyway... Christeen, War, Dynamics... This tracks are typical Townsend's tracks, not really different of that he would later make in Physicist, and some parts of Terria. But songs like the Broadway/cabaret oriented Bad Devil, the crazy Ants, and the weird Noisy Pink Bubbles, make this album being different of all the other Townsend's albums. Every release of this man has a clear direction, while being different from all the others. But in Infinity, I think Devin's was a bit dissoriented... Because the direction of the album is not clear. It goes to different places, and nowhere at the same time... It's not really coherent, and it loses strenght towards the end.

The first half of the album is just great, with a Devin in full form, making great songs, and showing an evident evolution from Ocean Machine. But the second half is not so good... Ants is funny, but I can't say this song is good. Colonical Boy has also some broadway feeling, like Bad Devil... But is far in quality, despite the great Devin's vocals. Dynamics is good, but a bit repetitive, and the same goes to Unity, a song wich follows the ambiental feeling of some parts of Ocean Machine. Noisy Pink Bubbles is a sort of strange acoustic rock track, really weird and different from all the other Devin's songs... It's not bad, and Devin sings wonderfully here, but it doesn't really fit in this album, I think.

So this is a good album... But far from being a masterpiece, because some too strange and dissoriented songs. I think that Devin tried to make a variated album... But in my opinion, he losed a bit of inspiration in the process.

Best songs: Truth (the heavy wall of sound is here... A punch in the face), Christeen (commercial and catchy pop-metal song...), Bad Devil (the highlight of the album... Broadway music filtered by the progressive-extreme metal point fo view. A genious's work!) and War (another catchy song... With repetitive riffs and great vocals. Terria's Earth Day was a progression of this song, I think)

Conclusion: being not the best Devin Townsend's album, Infinity is another interesting, different and catchy little jewel made by this genious... Funny, with crazy lyrics, incredible vocals, powerful drums... And the unique Devin Townsend's style. Not so good like the previous Ocean Machine, and far from the Devin's masterpieces, Infinity is interesting because here we can hear the born of the Devin's wall of sound, his trademark. So every fan of this man should hear it... The rest of mortals have better choices from this man. But Infinity is a very worthy album... And knowing that this man has many better albums, you will not regret from purchasing this crazy piece of metal anyway.

My rating: ***1/2

Report this review (#171980)
Posted Thursday, May 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Infinity is Devin Townsendīs second solo album and itīs a bit different from Ocean Machine which was his debut solo album. Infinity is a bit more varied, but also a much harder to appreciate. As I recall it Devin Townsend were very busy in those years. In 1997 he released Ocean Machine which was his first solo album and he also released the second album City by Strapping Young Lad. In 1998 he released Infinity and the live album No Sleep till Bedtime by Strapping Young Lad. As you can see Devin Townsend was busy in those years ( as always I might add) and itīs actually pretty hard to understand how he manages to have time for touring in between his busy studio schedule.

His albums are always hard to describe because he uses so many genres as inspiration. This is truly eclectic music.

Truth is a good start to the album and as most Devin Townsend albums itīs an instrumental song that starts the album. Christeen is a very good and melodic Devin Townsend song with the signature wall of distorted guitar. Guess where Diablo Swing Orchestra got the idea for Balrog Boogie. Balrog Boogie has a very similar theme to Bad Devil. There are lots of brass and a swing rythm to go along. This is one of the highlights of Infinity. Great song. War has a very heavy beat, but drags on for way too long IMO. It could have been a better song if it was cut down to about 3 minutes. Soul Driven Cadillac is an ambient atmospheric song which to some extent is enjoyable but again itīs a bit too long and IMO it overstays itīs welcome. Ants is an avant garde like song. quite humourous but also a bit stupid.

Colonial Boy is like Christeen a great signature melodic Devin Townsend song. Dynamics is anything but dynamic. This song is full blown symphonic with lots of the trademark guitar walls and extensive use of layered keyboards. Unity is a very keyboard laden ambient song that builds to a climax of symphonic proportions. This is not my style of music. Even though itīs a beautiful song I find it a bit boring. Noisy Pink Bubbles is one of my favorite songs on Infinity. Itīs very different if you compare it to the other songs on Infinity. Itīs got a grand sound as all the material and itīs very melodic, so I donīt know ? Maybe itīs just me who likes this melody better than the others. Noisy Pink Bubbles isnīt as noisy as many of the other songs and I like it when Devin Townsend shows his melodic pop side.

The musicianship is great here on Infinity which is a matter of course when itīs something Devin Townsend is involved in. Devin plays most things himself but the drums are played by drum wizard Gene Hoglan ( Dark Angel, Death, Old Manīs Child etc..etc..) and of course these a played with the precision that Hoglan always deliver. He is a man machine. Devin sings as ususal both his sweet melodic vocals and some more rocking gruff ones. It never gets very heavy though.

The production is a story all by itself. Devin is not only a great musician ( god damn the man sang and played guitar on a tour with Steve Vai) but also a great producer. You have to hear his signature sound to really understand what a unique producer he is. Itīs a chaotic yet crystal clear sound. Thatīs how I would describe it.

Well itīs not my favorite album from Devin Townsend but then again I was never a big fan of his solo albums. I always find songs and sounds I like on his solo albums but I never really like a whole album. I have always prefered his presence in Strapping Young Lad. One of the greatest experimental ( dare I say progressive when SYL is not in the Prog Archives?) metal bands ever. Infinity is good though and it does reach excellent from time to time, but it also reaches the bottom a couple of times and I guess a 3 star rating is allright. If you ask me for my personal opinion I would recommend that you listen to either City or Alien from Strapping Young Lad instead or maybe the Ziltoid the Omniscient album from Devin Townsend which I find essential listening if you want to hear something Devin is involved in. Great metal albums that are of course a bit more aggressive than Infinity but also a lot more exciting.

Report this review (#172139)
Posted Sunday, May 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Intristing and boring in the same time

Dewin Townsend second album named Infinity from 1998. First, this is intristing post metal, experimental industrial noise, but in the same time some of the pieces here are absolute boring to death. No doubt he is among the most prolific and important musicians from metal field, but to me this album specially, is almost a desaster. I can't go with the crowd saying that this is a masterpiece or something close, because i can't stand this industrial sound combined with metal, simply i don't enjoy this kind of sound. So some good piece to me are Chresteen and Bad devil, but these two tracks doesn't help the album to be a total desaster overall. The rest of the tracks are pure industrial noise with some metal and symphonic elements here and there and i don't like ait at all. Sorry to diseppoint the fans but this one is 10 times weaker than Terria. Here is invited on drums one of the most talented and important drumer ever metal embrace Gene Hoglan from Death and Dark Angel fame. 2 stars fot Infinity, for fans only , i'm not one of them.

Report this review (#181412)
Posted Tuesday, September 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album isn't perfect, but it is criminally underrated in many circles.

What we have here with Infinity is Devin's most progressive record, his most unique contribution to the world of music. Instead of the inescapable flow of Ocean Machine: Biomech, Infinity jerks around from point to point. Part of the problem with that is that it still is an unfinished album, in a way. Devin suffered a severe manic low near the end of this album and checked himself into a hospital, to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Some of the tracks, then, are unrelated songs situation into the gaps to make it a full-length album. I end up with mixed feelings about this, because these new additions (Bad Devil, Ants, Wild Colonial Boy, and Noisy Pink Bubbles) do not fit the mood of the rest of the songs, which are nearly perfect. However, I do rather enjoy these tracks, too, so I am glad that they are included somewhere. If you are interested, demos of the remaining tracks meant to be on Infinity can be found on Christeen (+4 Demos).

Infinity opens with Truth, a very deep and brutal track musically, throwing sonic booms and impossible walls of sound at the listener. Devin prefers to open his albums with something will really knock the listener around, and Truth might be the quintessential example of that. The album continues with Christeen, a single sort of track, fun but mostly unimpressive. This then segues into the wonderfully odd Bad Devil, a track that stylistic is nothing like the songs before (in truth, nothing like anything on the rest of the album--or anything else Devin's ever done for that matter). The song has something of a wild swing feel, with the added bonus of a creepy deep voice singing the verses.

War continues Infinity, riding forward very smoothly. The song isn't necessarily really upbeat, but somehow it propels the listener forward very effectively. At some point, a moment which is intentionally kind of vague, the song becomes Soul Driven Cadillac. This song isn't as much of a song as a good bit of atmospheric metal. Lyrics about most everything fill in this massive wall of sound. As a song, it's pretty weak, but as a part of Infinity, it is almost indispensable. It ends with a colossal voice rumbling something about bodywash. That won't make any sense until you hear it a couple of times. Ants comes right on the tail of Soul Driven Cadillac, Devin's most technical and spastic work to date. Wild guitars and even wilder vocal parts detail the sorriness of human obsession with doing things. It doesn't work very well with the album flow, but it certainly does stand as a fascinating piece of music.

Wild Colonial Boy comes next, a rather random Broadway sort of track. It's interesting but not great, though I must admit, the ending reminds me a lot of the ending of Ayreon's Ye Courtly Minstrel Boy (listen to them!). Life Is All Dynamics is one of Devin's most emotional and evocative vocal performances. It then flows into the soft and building Unity, a good album closer. Well, it was supposed to be the album closer, but the fun throwaway track Noisy Pink Bubbles shows up after a bit of quiet. Some bonus tracks wrap up the album.

All in all, a very flawed album, but despite those flaws a very, very strong one. If only Devin had really finished Infinity, we'd have likely his magnum opus. As it is, Infinity is a wonderful release I'd recommend checking out, although as a first taste of Devin it might not be the wisest course to take.

Report this review (#184311)
Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was probably the Devin Townsend album that took the longest to grow on me. The first couple of times I heard it I thought it was only an average release with a few moments of uniqueness here and there. But like almost every other album the man has ever written, Infinity has certainly grown on me. What makes this album different from all other Devin Townsend albums is the variety of moods. While most of his solo work concentrates on one aspect or feeling of the Devin Townsend sound (and does so very well most of the time), Infinity seems to jump all over the place mood-wise. Although Devin was suffering greatly from a mental standpoint while he was writing this album, and did spend time in a mental hospital shortly after it was released, so that certainly explains why the mood is everywhere on the album. Although this might be perceived as a major flaw, it actually works perfectly...almost.

The first couple of songs really prove my point effectively. The opener, Truth, is a fairly heavy track filled with frequent sonic assaults and walls of sound that Devin often enjoys throwing at the listener. This is followed by Christeen, a song that screams pop metal Devin-style and would have worked quite well as a single. The third song, Bad Devil, is really enjoyable because it's a very unique song in the Devin Townsend collection. I can't really think of another song he's written that I can compare it too, both vocally and instrumentally. If the first 3 songs don't effectively show that the album moves everywhere, then I don't know what will. Another song I'd like to point out is Ants. Although it is fairly short, it's one of the wackiest songs Townsend has ever written, and it makes me laugh every time I hear it.

If Devin had actually finished this album, it would probably have been one of his best. But given that he technically didn't and that some of the songs don't fit the overall mood (as good as they may be), I have to limit this to 4 stars. Great for expanding your Townsend collection, but starting here might leave something to be desired.

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Posted Monday, June 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album strikes me because of the creative textures that it creates, and how it manages to be metal without feeling overly cheesy, as some metal has a tendency to (Man-o-War anyone?).

The vocals are varied, and perhaps one of my favorite aspects of this album; the way Devin twists his voices into different sounds, from typical singing, to deep growls, to higher vocals that are difficult to understand and often sound like just another very unique instrument added to the mix. The guitars are heavy, without being blatant, which is quite pleasant.

The album starts of auspiciously enough with Truth, an interesting mix of noises that leads into 'Christeen' and 'Bad Devil', two more straight forward tracks that nonetheless are quite apt at getting the juices going, and contain enough of Devin's uniqueness to make them stand out. In Christeen, during the verses, Devin proves that he can use his voice to evoke a wide range of emotions, from fury to hopefulness (the way he sings the word 'running' sounds great to these ears).

War is another Devin track that uses a Wall of Sound over some fascinating vocals to really grab the listener by the ears, building up and layering additional vocal themes until the near the end, when Devin demands "Quiet, just a little bit of quiet please - just stop the noise for once, please!" (at which point the audio seems to implode upon itself), followed by some excellent, if difficult-to-understand vocals by Devin (although this album is not about the lyrics so much as the vocals, to me).

War leads into Soul Driven, which builds up from just vocals and guitar to another heavy track that is highly recommended for the same reason as previous tracks on the album. In fact, at this point, it's becoming obvious that this album is, more than anything else, about massive layering into walls of sound, which Devin is quite good at. At the end of this song is a moment that is too weird to happen in almost any other type of music, strange low range vocals with high vocals layered overtop, sounding almost monstrous and very frightening. It is excellent in the way that songs like Gentle Giant's Alucard, VDGG's Lemmings, Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man, and Yes' Close to the Edge are - new textures of sound that you had not imagined beforehand, but that leave you breathless with their ingenuity and how they just WORK. It is only a one minute section, and not quite as good as the aforementioned tracks, but it definitely evokes the same feeling (to a lesser degree).

Ants is the next track, and this is a track that MUST be listened to sitting or lying down, as the crazy vocals will make you dizzy and knock you down if you try to keep up with them any other way. The frenetic pace of this song alone makes the album worth the purchase, for there is not a lot of other music out there like this. Next is Colonial Boy, much more straightforward (relying more on guitars and the chorus) than the rest of the album, yet surprisingly catchy. I've put this album on simply because I had this song stuck in my head many times.

The next three tracks return to the heavy layering, and while each is great on its own, none of them quite rank with the middle of this album. Nonetheless, the effectiveness of this album, and the great experimental parts (especially Soul Driven and Ants) make this a highly recommended album, although the heavy layering may be troublesome too some, so I will rate it at 4 stars: an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. I will definitely be looking for more Devin to add to my library after hearing this album.

Report this review (#238495)
Posted Friday, September 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Devy At His Breaking Point

Warning: this review is about the entire INFINITY project, not just this album.

INFINITY was Devin Townsend's second solo release, and came at a time when he was mentally falling apart. Shortly after this album came out, he put himself in the hospital and was diagnosed with Bipolar illness. Besides his personal issues, there were reportedly alot of technical difficulties as well. As a result, the record company finally forced Devin's hand and he had to give them the songs he had finished rather than the full album he had envisioned. (He was already far behind schedule, and things were looking rough for completion any time soon.) As a result, INFINITY as it was released feels like exactly what it is, a collection of songs that were sequenced and linked after the fact. There are some great immense atmospheric pieces and some novelties, and they tend to bounce from style to style. As it happens, I love the more experimental quirky songs on this album as well or more than similar ventures on his other discs. However, they break the continuum of the soundscape. With the release of the Christeen EP, the remainder of the material was released, again in a kind of mishmash with an assortment of ideas.

The original track order was to be 1. Truth 2. Processional (parts 2-4 from the EP) 3. Christeen 4. War 5. Starchild Rise (part 1 of Processional from the EP) 6. Soul Driven 7. OM (from the EP, part of his current live set) 8. Life is All Dynamics 9. Unity. Reconstructing this using whatever music software at your disposal (as the demos are quite high quality) will result in a very different INFINITY. Like OCEAN MACHINE or SYNCHESTRA, this album flows, taking the listener on a inner journey that is simply beautiful. Several songs take on a completely new feel based on the emotions that went before. "Christeen," a poppish single that I never liked by itself or within the original album sequence, emerges from an intense brain melt as a cruise on a motorcycle with the wind in your face. The rises and falls of "War" work much better.

Four songs from the release version are omitted. The first "Bad Devil" is a great tongue in cheek, almost vaudeville song that is much better than the similarly conceived "Vampira / Vampolka" off SYNCHESTRA. "Ants" is an insane piece of experimentation that I'm sure is too much for some listeners, but I love. It almost evokes Mr. Bungle at places with manic circus-y sections alternating with free time chaos. "Wild Colonial Boy" is a slightly overbaked waltz that again is fun but forgetable. "Noisy Pink Bubbles" actually reminds me a little that Devin was once a bandmate of Steve Vai's, and points back toward FLEX-ABLE to a degree during its introduction. Along with "Sit in the Mountain" from the Christeen EP, these songs would have made a wonderful EP bonus to the album as Devin intended it to be.

The core songs (appearing on both versions) are epic, grand, ambitious works where Devin is clearly trying to understand the meaning of, well, Infinity. (He would make fun of thise aspect of himself almost 10 years later on Ziltoid.) The opener "Truth" alternates between a vocal that sounds like munchkins singing "Money money money" in unison with a heavily distorted guitar with a gang vocal of "Hallelujah." It takes Townsend's immense sonic landscape to support such a grand project, and INFINITY definitely sees Devy making huge strides in the development of his trademark wall of sound. "War" and "Unity" are the kind of songs that I love Townsend for - psychedelic, textured, often heavy, but the kind of music that takes you to another world.

I cannot give the released album a full five stars. But the INFINITY project as a whole is an essential part of the Devy legacy. The EP is a must, of course. Highly recommended for those exploring the world of one of metal's most gifted muses.

Report this review (#411095)
Posted Friday, March 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 7.5/10

A somewhat disappointing follow-up to the great Ocean Machine: Biomech, Infinity was released shortly after the mental breakdown of Devin Townsend that led to him being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I do not know whether this had any impact on his music, but the fact that this album is more experimental and less serious than its predecessor may be an indication that the answer to my question is yes.

Even if half of Infinity is disposable to me, there are some gems here that is worth hearing. The opening instrumental Truth is a powerful instrumental opener, followed by energetic Christeen and Bad Devil shows Devy's inclination to jazz (the presence of a trombone evokes it here) mixed with good doses of comedy rock and metal. But my favorite here are the last two songs, Unity and Noisy Pink Bubbles. Both have in common that they start with a guitar through Crimson-esque (specifically the 80's phase of band), but are very different. The first is slow, ethereal and otherworldly, while the latter relies more on humor at the beginning (I particularly love the first minute) and is pursuing other paths driven by acoustic guitar.

I think 4 stars is fair for this album. Regular, but nowhere near the genius of his predecessor.

Report this review (#775499)
Posted Thursday, June 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first time I saw Devin Townsend live, I had no idea who he was, I think I'd heard of Strapping Young Lad, but that was about it. When he took the stage, he busted out "Truth" with his band, commanding the audience with his powerful charisma, and I suddenly heard everything that was missing from my life in metal and progressive music at that point in my life. "Truth" was like taking a trip through space, launching me out of the solar system and around the Milky Way. It served as the perfect introduction to Devin Townsend, and it also served as a perfect opener to his first great solo release, "Infinity."

"Infinity" was the first of Townsend's solo albums with Gene Hoglan on the drums, whose presence provides a solid anchor to the proceedings, as a strong drummer with a personality to match Devin's was what "Ocean Machine" needed, but lacked. "Infinity" is also more daring and varied than its predecessor, taking influences from Broadway musicals on "Bad Devil" and "Wild Colonial Boy," and delving into vocal experimentation in the vein of Mike Patton with "Ants." But most importantly, most of the songs feel ironed and pressed, better written and better realized here than before. "Truth" starts us off with an explosive instrumental, before the pop-hooks of "Christeen," into the goofy dance number of "Bad Devil," then finally into the spacey head-banger, "War." Ear-worm after ear-worm.

It's seemingly relentless until "Soul Driven Cadillac" and "Ants" take more experimental asides, before the operatics of "Wild Colonial Boy" and the beauty of "Life is all Dynamics" and "Unity." "Noisy Pink Bubbles" is a coda that recalls Frank Zappa, but "Unity" is such a perfect finisher, you don't need something so strange as a chaser.

Apparently the version of "Infinity" that's out there was put out before it was "finished" due to time constraints, and what the album could have been can be glimpsed on the "Infinity EP." The album that was made is, however, the one that was made, and the power of the songs therein is evident in how they've managed to consistently stick around Townsend's live set. I'd say the songs are perhaps greater than the whole record as a unit, portions of the album seem to go together beautifully ("Life is all Dynamics" and "Unity" could be one song), while songs like "Christeen" and "Bad Devil" feel like independent singles. If there's one thing missing in "Infinity" that "Ocean Machine" had, it's a sense of cohesion, but I suppose that's a problem that comes with releasing a version of the album that isn't the whole you had envisioned.

"Infinity," in its present form, is still a great album, and one of Devin Townsend's signature works that defines this period in his career.

Report this review (#1372157)
Posted Monday, February 23, 2015 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Devin's music is so much similar to a full orchestra playing at it's extreme, but it's all rock instruments. A lot of his music is very loud and full textured, a very thick mix, but somehow, in the loudness, all of the instruments come through. This particular album is one of the thicker ones, but don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of variety in Devin's music, including this album. Infinity, however, is also one of the less progressive ones, even though there are two extremely progressive songs here (Ants and Noisy Pink Bubbles), which is unfortunately too short. But, even when he is not at his most progressive, I love Devin's approach to music, especially his heavy music. It is so full of sound that each time you hear it, you hear something different.

I still love the straightforwardness of the album, many of the tracks really rock, yet sound so fresh because of Devin's approach to mixing. Nothing is under- or over-mixed here, it's all quite even, yet still very emotional music. But if you don't like your music unrelenting, then this album may be a little too much for you. Yet, there is a softer side to the album, and it is in the track called "Unity" which is a lovely song, more of a ballad, but it's still got that full loud sound to it. It's really hard to explain, that something so full sounding can still be so emotional and not get old. The best way to understand Devin's music is to listen for yourself. However, give yourself a little time to acclimatize yourself to the wall of sound and marvel at how all the different sounds and tones still manage to come through that amazing wall.

Devin can be more dynamic on other albums, and that is where there is a little bit of a slip on this album. At first listen, this one might be a little more impenetrable even if it is still more straightforward than normal for DT. The reason for this is because it is more heavy rock oriented than some of his others, though he is never afraid to scream at the top of his lungs, so be prepared....yes even when singing about recycling as he does on another album.

There are some bonus tracks available on one edition and 2 of them are acoustic. These are interesting to listen to because it breaks down the wall of noise, but only a little bit, because his acoustics still fill the space that is known as silence. It's still very heavy sounding and noisy in it's own right. Again, you have to hear it to know what I'm talking about.

I can still give this 4 stars because I love DT's approach to recording and the unique sound it gives his music and the level of emotion in his music, singing and playing. Yes, DT has messed up a few times, but you can usually count on his music to be high quality, and I don't care how loud it is or if some may consider it metal, it's still amazing.

Report this review (#1428612)
Posted Friday, June 19, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Here's where Townsend's mad side gets some attention.

As with all Townsend albums, the keyword is reverb. And lots of it, as usual. "Truth" is essentially a 4 minute long overture pronouncing that fact, but differentiating itself from "Biomech", little samples of distorted voices and other instrument samples, bell tones here and there, massive choral "aahs". It's more of a pompous spectacle than his first album, predictable really, since first solo efforts are usually best to be played on the safer side, considering DT was still with Stapping Young Lad by this point in time. Then "Christeen" kicks in and that heavy metal-pop star mix that Townsend is so good at comes through. Not bad at all, but not out of the ordinary.

Then we get to "Bad Devil", and a glimmer of Townsend's mad side suddenly shines through. Amazingly, the chorus is still catchy as all hell, but the demonic verses may catch you a bit off guard, not to mention the almost satanic swing groove in the middle. It's absolutely refreshing, but definitely messed up on a few levels, but hey, that's Devin for you.

"War" is another one of those reverb soundscapes that just gallops along for about 6 and a half minutes, and then "Soul Driven Cadillac" cuts the speed in half and continues the same song and dance before fading into a weird soundcsape of noise and samples. Going straight into "Ants", a bit more hectic, before jumping into what sound to me like reverbed interpretation of a Jewish dance tune, but with all the musicians and dancers all on crack. It's a complete 180, even from "Bad Devil", blindsiding listeners for a good 2 minutes before it all settles and that brilliant ballad "Wild Colonial Boy" serenades and waltz its way into your heart.

"Life Is All Dynamics" also sounds a bit like a ballad going into it, before it bursts out, as usual, in reverbed fashion, filled with screams, ear-deafening synths and glorious pomp and circumstance. (So, if we're taking Townsend literally here, by use of the transitive property, that means life = loud, which according to Townsend it is). Or is it? "Unity" then takes another complete 180 and focuses more on synth atmospheres than completely drowning you in reverb and noise. It's not a lyrical ballad a la "Wild Colonial Boy", it's more ethereal and sublime than that. And then, in another 180, "Noisy Pink Bubbles" attempts another serenade(?) of sorts with bell tones all around, but the drum track is much groovier, a bit busier than that. Also, it's not very noisy, as roughly 2 minutes the rest of the song delves into a deep jam with occasional quips from Townsend.

All in all, this is the start of the Devin Townsend we all know and love. The catchy, reverb-tastic songs from "Biomech" are still present, but it's also much livelier than "Biomech", and much, much weirder. But then again, that's the appeal to his music. He isn't like any other musician. This is his style, it's what he does, and frankly, it's one of his better efforts, despite the fact it was released in the 90's (barely, ['99], but it still counts).

Report this review (#1453174)
Posted Friday, August 14, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Overly ambitious, immature, sublime, epic, aggressive, beautiful, pretentious, honest. These are just a few of the ways I can describe Devin's second solo release. Especially when compared with some of his recent work, which tends to be more subdued and accessible, Infinity stands out as epitomizing the youthful grandiosity of his early work, and I can't help but continue to smile when I hear it. Maybe it's because it reminds me of the way I was when I listened to this album regularly -- young, full of unrealized possibility, bold and afraid -- but I sometimes wonder why I don't seem to discover new progressive music like this anymore. Is it because I don't hear music in the same way that I did when I was a stargazing teenager, always looking for (and sometimes finding) deeper meaning in simple things? Or is it because all of my favorite prog artists, Devin included, were in their prime when I first began discovering their music ten years ago? Perhaps they were, but for me, Devin is in his prime with Infinity precisely because he is full of the wonder, angst, and hopefulness that we sometimes lose touch with as we get older. Infinity reminds me how I felt when I was 20, and it makes me smile every time.
Report this review (#1462519)
Posted Friday, September 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Devin Townsend's second album proves to be a very different beast from his first, taking away the atmospheric, subtle, clean tracks, for outright madness and fun. The production is very strange, both sounding very clear, yet also having a degree of muddiness to it, the compositions are incredibly varied, sounding more like individual tracks rather than a cohesive album, and their is a sense of outright fun to be found here, rather than the extremely solemn 'Ocean Machine: Biomech'. Due to this being a Devin Townsend release, one thing that can be counted on is the absolutely perfect vocals for any case, ranging from beautiful and operatic, to aggressive screaming.

From the opening song 'Truth' it already becomes clear just how different this album is going to be, exploding into a wall of sound full of quirky, bizarre vocal noises and makes for a strange way to kick the album off. 'Christeen' is a much more pop oriented track, with a fun catchy chorus and more strange vocalisations, making for a completely different sound from the opener. Just to destroy any notions that 'Christeen' was going to be an outlier track, the clear highlight, 'Bad Devil' bursts in. These is easily one of my favourite songs that Devin has ever written, being an extremely entertaining, fun swing metal song that clearly went on to influence 'Diablo Swing Orchestra', particularly 'Balrog Boogie'. Everything about this song works absolutely perfectly, being full of energy and easily grabbing the attention of anyone listening to this album. The album continues strongly with 'War', being another massive, seemingly impenetrable wall of sound, with a fairly decent groove that is pushed to its breaking point, with a gradual increase of layers to the music, until it explodes with Devin screaming about stopping the noise, which I find to be interesting. 'Soul Driven Cadillac' is quite similar to the tracks 'Life if All Dynamics' and 'Unity', all conveying the more grandiose, atmospheric side of Devin's music. These songs all contain very powerful grooves to them, displaying his more serious side. 'Ants' is the single weirdest song in Townsend's entire discography, with some of the most unadulterated insanity I've heard in any band. truly a song that needs to be heard, and one that never fails to get a laugh out of me. 'Wild Colonial Boy' is a fun waltzy power ballad with some great melody, and an awesome chorus. The closing track 'Noisy Pink Bubbles' is a good one all around, having a psychedelic, stoner style to it, ending the album in the same way it started, strangely.

While the album is less coherent than any other Devin Townsend effort, it is also one of the most purely entertaining one, with a lot of diversity and fun involved. While I recommend other Devin Townsend albums over this one, simply because this doesn't have the same scope and maturity as albums such as 'Ocean Machine', 'Terria' or even 'Ziltoid the Omniscient', however, this is definitely a great album that I'll recommend to any fan of Devin Townsend, and I'll recommend 'Bad Devil' to anyone.

Best Songs: Bad Devil, War, Unity

Weakest Songs: None

Verdict: Fun album all around that is quite accessible, using various styles and genres throughout with very little restraint. While it doesn't reach the creative highs of other albums, it is nonetheless a fun listen.

Report this review (#2113256)
Posted Tuesday, January 1, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Released in 1998, Infinity has been dubbed by its creator Devin Townsend as the "parent album" of the two records he had released in 1997: his solo debut, Ocean Machine: Biomech, and Strapping Young Lad's City album. It is a fitting description, as Infinity borrows the sublime taste for catchy melodies from the former and the gusto for heavy sonic assault from the latter. But Infinity is much more than the sum of these two sides of Devin Townsend: it is a record brimming with fresh, exciting ideas, full of adventure, where the listener can never know which direction a particular song may take. It is a progressive album in the truest sense of the adjective, and for this reason it deserves to sit in the collection of any lover of progressive rock and metal.

The core of the record revolves around the amalgamation of catchy vocal melodies into a thick wall of sound created by layers of heavily distorted guitars and swathes of psychedelic keyboards and sound effects. Meanwhile Gene Hoglan and Christian Olde Webbers form an exceptional rhythm section, extremely technical, frenzied and inventive, but also clever enough to know when to tone it down if the song needs it. The listening experience is quite unique, as the listener gets bashed on the head by a heavy barrage of sound and at the same time lulled and enticed by heavenly vocal melodies and multi-layered choirs. It is the "Devin Townsend's experience" - one that the Canadian artist has repeated and refined time and time again with each subsequent album.

A remarkable aspect of Infinity is the large amount of left-field ideas that are incorporated into the record. Often these are ideas that, on paper, should not possibly work in the musical context in which they are inserted, yet unbelievably they do. The big-band swing of "Bad Devil" is exhilarating when contrasted with the savage assault of distorted guitars and Devin's frenzied screamed vocals. "War" is a heavy affair that suddenly turns 1950s rock ("doo wop boddum?") before descending into an anarchic madness of noise that is eventually interrupted by Devin shouting "God, quiet! Just a little bit of quiet please! Just stop the noise for once... please!!", which is exactly what the listener is thinking at this specific point in the song. A country fair waltz unexpectedly tears through the otherwise dramatic ballad "Wild Colonial Boy". Meanwhile, "Ants" is an incredibly technical piece that builds on odd time signatures, nervous riffs and wacky vocals to achieve near cacophony, which makes it repellent and mesmerizing at the same time - like watching a massive anthill, I suppose. The whole album is constellated with these sudden changes of direction and incongruous contrasts, which makes for an adventurous, fun and exciting listening experience, as one can never be sure where a particular song might end up to.

The sheer amount of ideas, music and sounds condensed in the 47 minutes of the LP is astonishing and witness to the great work done by Devin in the production phase of the album (which is sonically excellent: clear, detailed and immersive). Indeed, Infinity was not an easy album to write and record and the process nearly had the best of Devin Townsend, as he found himself obsessing on every detail of the album and devoting his whole life to it (the famous anecdote is that during the recording of the album Devin used to sleep on the studio floor). At times, one can feel the strain and distress emerging through the notes of tracks like "War", "Soul Driven Cadillac", "Life Is All Dynamics": angular, unsettling songs that have rough edges and give us a peek into what Townsend may have experienced during the recording process. Elsewhere, however, the music opens up, the atmosphere relaxes, and gorgeous melodies emerge, like on "Christeen", "Wild Colonial Boy", "Unity" and "Noisy Pink Bubbles". It is a fascinating contrast that runs through the whole album and indeed through much of the music Devin Townsend has written throughout his career.

Infinity is an immersive album that is best experienced as a whole, with its peaks and valleys of tension and release. It is not an easy album to get into, however, because of its complexity and the multi-layered nature of the arrangements. Moreover, the heaviest, most exasperated parts can be difficult to digest and almost uncomfortable. I also feel that the record slumps a bit towards the end, with the 13 minutes of "Life Is All Dynamics" and "Unity" feeling slightly overwhelming and repetitive. Nevertheless, Infinity is a very good album that is not afraid to push boundaries and carve an original path in the dense forest of progressive metal. It is one of the quintessential Devin Townsend's records - heavy, frenetic, highly inventive and intensely melodic -, and it is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in prog rock/metal.

Report this review (#2584461)
Posted Sunday, August 8, 2021 | Review Permalink

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