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Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal

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Devin Townsend Physicist album cover
2.99 | 184 ratings | 17 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Namaste (3:34)
2. Victim (3:15)
3. Material (2:47)
4. Kingdom (5:55)
5. Death (2:27)
6. Devoid (1:28)
7. The Complex (3:31)
8. Irish Maiden (2:45)
9. Jupiter (3:36)
10. Planet Rain (11:08)
11. Forgotten (5:59)

Total Time 46:25

CD-ROM section on Enhanced CD:
commentary from Dev,
biography of Devin Townsend,
discography (including sound clips of selected songs and reviews),
merchandising catalogue,
photo gallery,
PC themes,
FAQ and informations about Hevy Devy Records and the Seventh Wave Studios

Line-up / Musicians

- Devin Townsend / vocals, guitars, keyboards, programming, arranger & producer

- Jed Simon / guitars
- Byron Stroud / bass
- Gene Hoglan / drums
- Chris Valagao, Marina Reid, Sharon Parker, Teresa Duke / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Clint Nielsen with Gary Hunter (3D logo)

CD HevyDevy Records ‎- HDRPH7 (2000, Canada) Enh CD
CD Inside Out Music ‎- 0501060 (2010, Europe) Enh CD

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy DEVIN TOWNSEND Physicist Music

DEVIN TOWNSEND Physicist ratings distribution

(184 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

DEVIN TOWNSEND Physicist reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
4 stars "Physicist" is Devin TOWNSEND's follow-up to his magnificent "Infinity" album from 1999. It follows the same musical direction: complex, crazy, experimental, humorous, melodic, noisy and outrageous. "Physicist" is less accessible then "Infinity" though and it takes a few listening to get into. Although it's a very good album, I liked "Infinity" more because of its variation. This album is faster and with less nuances between the songs.

Unfortunately I guess that many may be scared away by its noisiness, and don't get the time to hear that it's actually very melodic. But the melody is often hidden under layers of fast riffs and distorted guitars. Industry v/s Speed & Heavy Metal with some progressive inputs. Actually it's quite comparable to MINISTRY or even SLAYER at times. Just listen to "Death" and you'll know what I mean. You would get quite exhausted after listening through the entire album, if it wasn't for some breathing space in "Jupiter" and the Bonustrack. "Material" is one of the highlights.

Devin TOWNSEND has played with many other bands and musicians too: Steve VAI, The WILDHEARTS, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY and on tribute albums to JUDAS PRIEST and RUSH.

If you like a mix between Industry and Speed Metal in the same vein as MINISTRY, you'll probably love this album.

Review by The Crow
4 stars What would happen if one of the hardest extreme metal bands, Strapping Young Lad, leaded by Devin Townsend, make an album full with good fellings, happy and bombastic moments, a littler proggier, and some pop melodies? The result is "Physicist"...

This is an special album in the Devin Townsend's discography... Honestly, I think it's a little difficult to compare with other Townsend's solo albums, although the obvious relation it's still here... The Townsend's sound is here, the well known wall of sound, the outstanding vocals... But with more speed and power than any other disc from this great mind. The main reason are the musicians... "Physicist" is Strapping Young Lad, speaking clearly... The same musicians. The same band. And although this is not an Strapping Young Lad's album, it's imposible not to think in this band when you hear it...

So... The incredible Gene Hoglan drums are here (like in "Infinity" and "Terria"), accompanied with the strong bass of Byron Stroud. The Jed Simon guitars... Well, honestly, it's difficult to say the style of this man in guitars... Because all sounds clearly Townsend in guitars here. And the effective and constant mixture between keyboards and guitars make difficul to analize this aspect...

The great velocity of Namaste smash you in the face since the very first moment... And this mixture of speed metal with a lot of keyboards, with some catchy and poppy melodies will be the general tonic of this album. Maybe is the more homogenous and less complex Townsend album. The direction is clear... And you can hear it also in the marvellous Townsend's voice. With less variety as usual, more controlated and concise... But still impressive, adapting very well to every song.

But although the style of the album is concise, every song here is still surprising. Material have a total catchy pop choir (but it's still a extreme metal song), while Kingdom is full with landscapes and beatiful passages (but still at the same speed!). The rest fo the album follows this totallly unique and suggestive style...

With two clear exceptions... Death: a clearly extreme thrash/industrial metal song, that could be easily included in an Strapping Young Lad album... And one of the better songs from this album: Planet Rain. The proggiest and longer song of the album, slower and calmed, full with fine keyboards melodies, still with hard guitars, but with the capacity of transport you to another lands, another places... Yes, my friends, just like "Terria". I think this song, Planet Rain, is a clear advance of what "Terria" would be... Great song, indeed.

Conclusion: like every Townsend album, the word is... Different. But like every Townsend album, the outstanding originality and quality of the songs will be a great experience to prog metal lovers. Maybe not too easy at the first listening, but after a pair of opportunities, you will not be able to left hearing it.

Warning: but here you will not find anything similar to any usual prog metal band... This is not Dream Theater, or Symphony X, or Shadow Gallery... And this is also different to the other Devin Townsend, The Devin Townsend Band or Strapping Young Lad albums. This is truly original. The perfect definition is, maybe... Futuristic exteme pop metal!

Will you brave enough to discover it?

My rating: ****

Review by 1800iareyay
3 stars Physicist has the unhappy chance of coming after Ocean Machine and Infinity and before Terria. Whereas those three albums explored new territory for heavy metal, Physicist is a straight-forward oeuvre that recalls Devin's project Strapping Young Lad. He even uses his SYL lineup, although this was not planned. Originally, Devin formed a trio called IR8 with former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and Exodus/Angel Witch drummer Tom Hunting. However, label and scheduling conflicts forced Devin to use his band mates instead.

Although Devin doesn't display as much originality as he does on his other works, there are still a number of unusual aspects. For one, despite the heavy, straight-forward nature of the album, keyboards play a more prominent role than they ever have on a Townsend release. There are a handful of highlights to be found on this disc. The album opens with the fierce Namaste, which puts Devin's signature scream at the forefront over a fast beat. Kingdom manages to create a vast atmosphere that could rival anything on an Opeth release, but it does so at speeds even Opeth has never touched. Material has some touching lyrics and it features Devin's trademark layered vocal choirs that give even the most extreme song pop sensibilities. Jupiter slows things down to you a breather, and it is the first place where some real variability is displayed. The real highlight of the album is the glorious Planet Rain, an 11 minute opus that ranks as one of the Dev's greatest songs. Like all of Devin's epics, it builds from a simple riff into a vast soundscape that occupies every inch of your mind, cascading like waves against your cerebral cortex. It is one of Devin's best vocal performances, and the composition is to die for. This track alone is worth the price.

Sadly, the rest of the album is rather uninspiring. While anything Devin makes is worth hearing, this lacks the creative fire of the rest of his recordings and it doesn't warrant nearly as many listens as the moving Ocean Machine or the dense Terria. However, it has its bright moments, and no fan of The Dev should be without this.

Grade: C

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars As a dedicated fan of DT's solo offerings and only a casual fan of Strapping Young Lad, I found Physicist a very underwhelming listen, at least in regards demonstrations of Townsend's considerable talent as a songwriter and instrumentalist.

These songs are uniformly loud, savage, and unrelenting in their sonic assault. While not quite as volcanic or as intense as Strapping Young Loud, they have the dubious disadvantage of not being as creative either. Physicist lacks the variety, both in song structure and feel, of DT's later albums-- making it very repetitive. Only until late in the album with Planet Rain does DT use his singing voice, or even use a noticeably different tempo. The result is a release which is like Strapping Young Lad light-- but then, that begs the question: what's the point of that?

I listen to SYL to punish myself with crazy-fast metal of the most brutal and zany variety, and Devin Townsend for classy metal filled with variety and craftsmanship: Physicist is neither. It's an unoriginal orphan sandwiched between the artist's better works.

Check out DT's other albums first, which are without exception excellent, before getting this one.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Review by LiquidEternity
2 stars I like this album. I really do. But it's just not that interesting.

Basically, what we have here is a one-dimensional, upbeat Strapping Young Lad album. Devin sings more, the lyrics aren't all angry, and there is a bit of musical progression to be found. The production is probably the weakest on any of his releases, and the sound dynamics are particularly uninspiring. A number of the songs, particularly the ones in the middle of the album, don't really have much standing out about them, though the beginning tracks and the final one are certainly worth hearing if you're a Townsend fan.

Of note are a few tracks. First, the opener Namaste blazes with speed and interesting melodies. Yes, Devin screams most of it, and yes, Devin screams most of it with a melody--an ability that as far as I've found is unique to him. Also, the track Material still stands to me as a very strong song. The first half seems mostly normal for a Devin song, with fast drums and guitars and a bit of roaring. However, the second part features some cheerful vocal harmonies and upbeat lyrics. The final song, Planet Rain, is the truly best song on the album. It's slow and churning for most of it, but Devin's voice, especially when he screams he's sorry, carries so much impact and emotion that it's very hard not to fall in love with the power of this one.

Overall, probably Devin's weakest solo release. Nevertheless, fan's of Devy will appreciate a few tracks, and fans of Strapping Young Lad might find a good segue into his solo stuff.

Review by horsewithteeth11
2 stars I'm torn on this release. On one hand, I love this album. But at the same time, this is by no means something for everyone. My main beef with this album, like others have said, is that this is very straight-forward heaviness for Devin Townsend material. It does sound very Strapping Young Lad-like though, and I do like seeing that cross over into Devy's solo work some, although it might be because I enjoy Strapping Young Lad as well.

I had some of the negative feelings about this album that I had at one point about Infinity, but those feelings have for the most part gone away in regards to that album. But no matter how many times I listen to Physicist, I have a hard time picking out the uniqueness in each song. Oh sure, there are unique parts to the songs, but the main characteristics are heaviness and loudness, and those never change much from song to song. Unlike Infinity, where multiple listens revealed some interesting nuances about each song and a good deal of variety, Physicist offers almost none of these things. But at the same time, I still enjoy the sound this album presents.

Normally I only give 2 stars to albums I don't enjoy except for a song or two. In this case, this is an album I enjoy a fair amount, but I can't think anyone except hardcore Devin Townsend/Strapping Young Lad fans will enjoy Physicist. If you aren't one of those people or just looking for a place to start with him, save your money and invest elsewhere.

Review by Wicket
3 stars On paper, it seems like "Physicist is a terrible album from Devin Townsend. Yes, it's heavy, but it doesn't contain that spastic rage that made "Strapping Young Lad" so infamous, but it's also very unpredictable, which can easily turn newcomers away from his style.

Kinda makes you wonder what he was on when he recorded this album.

Yet as soon as I turn on "Namaste", I'm instantly inclined to get on my drumset and start thrashing away on the double bass and play as fast as humanly possible, which isn't really fast at all. Once I start taking this album into progressive context, this album isn't anything special, but there's something about this disc that I just absolutely adore, and I don't know why. Perhaps it's just the humorous side of DT's "rage-filled metal" kicking in, and I feel it with "Victim"'s heavy , side-step intro. The verses accompany this awkward two-step riff, while the pre-chorus reminds me of a motorcycle gang for some reason, while the chorus bursts in with the creepy orchestral swing that truly gives it color.

Now, while I wouldn't necessarily call this DT's best album, I see this album as a lighter, more progressive SYL, if that's even possible. I'm pretty sure Devin never screamed falsetto on any SYL to date, so I'm a already sold on "Physicist".

Now while my own research uncovered Devin's bipolar disorder, which explains the jump from SYL to "Christeen", I've pretty much come to the conclusion that most of his decisions regarding musical style from album to album came from drugs. It's simple enough to understand, anyway.

Jumping to other tracks, "Kingdom" sounds like it should be on "Accelerated Evolution"; a typical DT attempt at creating a heavy song in a major key while suppressing his attempt to scream and instead try to sing and croon his way onto radio airwaves. At this point, "Physicist" provides no new onset to a prog fan's interest, except for maybe a good excuse to throw his computer out of a window, especially when "Death" kicks in, which is probably DT's closest attempt to emulating SYL's angst-filled rage. *Skip*

"Devoid" begins with a loud bang, and it's only 1:28 long. *Skip* "The Complex" starts the same way, except Devin starts crooning at the same time. *Skip*

Then you get to "Irish Maiden". I'll admit, I shake my head to this song. It's a unique attempt on Devin's part, until he starts screaming again. Yawn.

I didn't even want to get into "Jupiter", until I realized that it was probably the closest thing to progressive on this entire album, but by then, I realized that this was nothing to be excited about. I prefer the first two tracks, but after that it's just snooze city. Nothing else to really stir the brain. Definitely not the first Devin Townsend album you should get as a newcomer, or otherwise, period. It's best if you get to understand Devin's insanity before you delve into this one.

Now, I'm not sure if that's quite entirely possible, but it's best to wait a while on this disc.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars From the superb, 'Infinity' Devin is back with a full band (actually, he uses his cohorts in Strapping Young Lad), and has given us one of the most interesting albums I have heard for a while. It is an album of undisputed straight through the ears hard rock ? played at tremendous pace, which must be played at speaker melting volume to get the full effect. But, if you can manage that (thank heavens for car CD players), you will be richly rewarded. Devin has set himself up as some mad Canadian hard rock Phil Spector, and although this album is often brutal in the extreme it is also one of the best produced. The music is a solid slab of sound that has been mixed and moulded to some strange blueprint only Devin has seen. The first four or five times I played this I wasn't sure, but by the time it had totally burned itself into my psyche I could just about see what Devin is striving through.

Originally appeared in Feedback #61, Feb 01

Review by FragileKings
2 stars Whenever I get into a band or artist and like them to the point that I decide to get all the studio albums I know there will be an album or two that fail to grab me. With other favourite bands like Rush, Yes, and Deep Purple, those albums tend to have been released between 1987 and 1990. With Devin Townsend, the album I like least is this one, an album that is almost unanimously one of his least impressive a midst a catalogue rife with impressive albums. The man himself counts this as his biggest solo effort flop and the backing band (the Strapping Young Lad guys) are also unanimous in their dislike for the album.

The problem is mostly with the production and not the music itself. Devin's early albums are not as fine tuned production wise as his later stuff; however, "Physicist" is really a muddied effort. The project was initially conceived by a joint venture with Jason Newsted who was with Metallica at the time, but Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield did not want any member of Metallica involved in projects outside the band. Devin decided to continue on his own and called in the members of Strapping Young Lad, Devin's flagship band, to record the music. His desire was to combine the bright pop metal of Def Leppard with thrash metal. The thrash element is there without a doubt. But the bright pop metal appears only in the form of some keyboards which in most cases do not work well with the rest of the music. Devin would later get the sound right on his Devin Townsend Project albums like "Epicloud", which features a much better version of the "Physicist" track "Kingdom".

If you listen to this album along with some other Devin Townsend albums or other modern prog albums, you will instantly notice that the sound quality is severely lacking. The other day, though, I listened to this album first thing in the morning while commuting to work and it sounded better than when placed against a background of superior recordings. The thrashier tracks likes "Namaste" and "Death" don't sound too bad if you like thrash metal. I also rather like how the keyboards add some melody to songs like "The Complex" and "Jupiter". "Kingdom" is good here. It's just that the song sounds so much better on "Epicloud" which I heard first.

The big "prog epic" here is said to be "Planet Rain". As the longest track it does have room to move and change rhythm and atmosphere, which it does in roughly four distinct parts, but I don't feel that it is anything particularly exciting. Perhaps for those who don't care for thrash too much this is a welcome respite. But compared to Devin's "Terria" and "Synchestra" or even "Biomech: Ocean Machine", this song needs some help.

Ultimately, this is a thrash metal album and there's not much here that illustrates Devin's more prog or post metal side. As a thrash album it's okay but the bright keyboards don't always improve the song quality. As a progressive album it seems that this is more of an experiment that didn't work out as well as it was intended. From time to time it's alright to listen through on its own. But Devin Townsend has much better music with much better production elsewhere.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Physicist" is the third full-length studio album by Canadian artist Devin Townsend. The album was released through HevyDevy Records (Townsend's own label) in June 2000. It's the successor to "Infinity" from October 1998. The album project started with the side-project that Townsend had with then Metallica bassist Jason Newsted called IR8. IR8 recorded a demo tape and then Townsend and Newsted started working on another project called Fizzicist. Newsted However ended up having to stop working with Townsend, when his Metallica bandmates learned of his side-project and vetoed his involvement in any other project than Metallica. Townsend soldiered on though and recruited his Strapping Young Lad bandmates for the recording sessions, which ended up being "Physicist".

At this point Strapping Young Lad was effectively on hold, to enable Townsend to concentrate on his solo career and to produce for other artists (Zimmers Hole, Soilwork, Stuck Mojo), but his solo career and Strapping Young Lad were always entangled in some way and the three other guys from Strapping Young Lad also toured with Townsend as his solo band those days, with a setlist featuring tracks from both projects.

"Physicist" is often criticized by fans and even by Townsend himself and called one of the least interesting releases in his discography, and while I don't necessarily agree with that sentiment, I can see why people (and Townsend himself) would think that. Coming from the schizophrenic and experimental sounds of "Infinity", "Physicist" is a much more straight forward and consistent release. The basis of many of the tracks is relatively hard edged thrash metal influenced drumming and guitar riffs and Townsend's vocals are predominantly raw and screaming. When that is said "Physicist" also features the trademark layers of keyboards/synths and a few more melodic moments with clean vocals (tracks like "Material" and "Jupiter"). It's a highly energetic release and often relatively fast-paced.

Opening track "Namaste" is the best example of that with it's relentless pounding drumming style and sharp thrashy riffs (as are "Victim" and "Death"). To my ears "Namaste" is definitely a highlight, but tracks like "Kingdom", and the 11:08 minutes long closing track "Planet Rain" are also standout tracks on "Physicist". The album unfortunately also features what I would call a couple of fillers. Or at least a few unremarkable tracks, and it therefore loses a bit of steam around half way through the playing time. It's not a major issue, but it's of course not a positive either.

The sound production is a bit "thin" and lacks some heavy bottom, but other than that it's a professional, detailed, and relatively well sounding production. Definitely not Townsend's best production work, but it's not an awful sounding album by any means. Many people seem to think that "Physicist" is just a Strapping Young Lad album disguised as a Devin Townsend solo album, and while there are some arguments which are valid enough to form such an opinion, there are also many elements on "Physicist", which would not have been included on a Strapping Young Lad album, and it's not a given that fans of Strapping Young Lad, who are not fans of Townsend's solo releases, would find this album attractive. To my ears "Physicist" sits somewhere between the two projects and it's quite unique in Townsend's vast discography. Better than its reputation, but not a perfect release, a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Latest members reviews

4 stars I believe this is a pretty underrated album by Devin. While Infinity and Terria are praised by almost everyone, Physicist usually gets a lot of [&*!#]. But in my eyes, is as good as these other two or even better. I've always believed that Infinity starts off pretty strong but falls around the m ... (read more)

Report this review (#2671010) | Posted by eduardico21 | Monday, January 10, 2022 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Physicist is a pretty weak album by DT. I dare say it won't appeal to any traditional music styles: progressive metal, death metal, black metal nor alternative metal. The songs feel sometimes unfinished, there are is instrumental maturity and all is melted into a massive guitar riff soundscape. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2043002) | Posted by sgtpepper | Thursday, October 11, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I've never understood why people don't rate this album higher. Sure it isn't his best album but it has several absolute bangers on it. To my sensibilities, it sits squarely between his previous solo efforts and the Strapping Young Lad albums that came directly before and directly after it. It does h ... (read more)

Report this review (#1463703) | Posted by Xenodimensional | Wednesday, September 16, 2015 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Like "Ocean Machine," Devin Townsend's "Physicist" was an album that originally began as a separate project, but ended up as another solo record. Originally envisioned as a band called "Fizzicist," the record was going to be a collaboration between Townsend and Jason Newsted, however Metallica's ... (read more)

Report this review (#1372160) | Posted by HunterD | Monday, February 23, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another history lesson, and more facts of information. During the late 90's, Devin had started to take his musical experiments even further, by getting in contact with Jason Newsted from Metallica. The 2 jammed and where about to release an album under the name of IR8. But, if anyone knows the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1029547) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Thursday, September 5, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars 4/10 I could not hear it over twice. Biomech was a flawless masterpiece, Infinity had his moments, but that here, so here ... hum, hum. Sorry, Devy, but this time you are not enchanted me. His attempt to cross the sound of his solo career with the Strapping Young Lad was, in my view, wasti ... (read more)

Report this review (#792309) | Posted by voliveira | Sunday, July 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars If you are new to Devin Townsend, don't start here. It's a good album and all- but you need to GET TERRIA_ that is a 5 star album, without a doubt (read other reviews of Terria- they back me up) This album has some song here and there to offer- but nothing like Terria, or Accelerated Evolution ... (read more)

Report this review (#43239) | Posted by | Wednesday, August 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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