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DEVIN TOWNSEND

Experimental/Post Metal • Canada


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Devin Townsend biography
DEVIN TOWNSEND, possibly more widely known as the frontman for the extreme metal act STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, began creating solo albums in 1997.

Sometimes referred to as the 'Mad Scientist of Metal', TOWNSEND produces a wide variety of music. This ranges from soft ambience designed, as he has stated, to put the listener to sleep, to high levels of thrash and extreme metal reminiscent of SYL.
His works often feature a 'wall of sound', built by adding many layers of guitars and keyboards that are playing in unison or harmony. The end result is a number of carefully produced and mixed albums that favor high-end sound systems.

His first solo album, 'Ocean Machine: Biomech' (1997), was actually originally simply titled 'Biomech' and the band project labeled OCEAN MACHINE. However, on subsequent releases in most countries, the one-shot band name was incorporated into the title, and TOWNSEND's name was affixed to the record. Next came his first solo album proper, 1998's 'Infinity'. However, diagnosed with bipolar disorder and suffering with severe depression, TOWNSEND left the album only partly finished, filling in the song gaps with other demos. Rebounding from this struggle, he wrote 'Physicist' in 2000, creating a sort of pop-metal release featuring the members of his band STRAPPING YOUNG LAD. His 2001 project, 'Terria', features some of his most complicated and deep production, incorporating many sounds from nature into the recording, and stands as one of his most well-known and most critically acclaimed albums.

His next solo project, THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND, began in 2003 with the release of 'Accelerated Evolution'. Adding drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen, guitarist Brian Waddell, bassist Mike Young, and keyboardist Dave Young, TOWNSEND decided to start releasing albums once more with a full-time band rather than merely studio musicians. Taking a dramatic turn from the style of 'Terria', TOWNSEND adopted a much more band-oriented feel, reducing the amount of atmosphere and increasing the level of accessibility of the music.

As a side project during this time, TOWNSEND stitched together the fierce ambient 'Devlab' album in 2004. The line-up of THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND continued for several years as a functional touring outfit. The collaboration concluded with the 2006 album 'Synchestra' - though this release marked the first time the same lineup had been present for two albums in a row. That same year, he released 'The Hummer', another ...
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Presents: Ziltoid the OmniscientPresents: Ziltoid the Omniscient
Inside Out 2007
Audio CD$15.65
$10.66 (used)
SynchestraSynchestra
Inside Out U.S. 2006
Audio CD$8.78
$5.01 (used)
InfinityInfinity
Extra tracks
Inside Out U.S. 2003
Audio CD$10.95
$5.87 (used)
Ocean MachineOcean Machine
Extra tracks
Inside Out U.S. 2003
Audio CD$29.99
$189.77 (used)
KiKi
Inside Out Music 2009
Audio CD$10.72
$7.02 (used)
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DEVIN TOWNSEND shows & tickets


  • Devin Townsend Project presents: The Return of Ziltoid on 13 Apr 2015

DEVIN TOWNSEND discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DEVIN TOWNSEND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 222 ratings
Ocean Machine: Biomech
1997
3.67 | 157 ratings
Infinity
1998
3.05 | 115 ratings
Physicist
2000
4.23 | 523 ratings
Terria
2001
3.91 | 178 ratings
Accelerated Evolution (The Devin Townsend Band)
2003
2.23 | 65 ratings
Devlab
2004
4.06 | 286 ratings
Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band)
2006
2.61 | 61 ratings
Hummer
2006
4.20 | 452 ratings
Ziltoid the Omniscient
2007
3.83 | 258 ratings
Ki (Devin Townsend Project)
2009
3.90 | 265 ratings
Addicted (Devin Townsend Project)
2009
3.91 | 343 ratings
Deconstruction (Devin Townsend Project)
2011
3.83 | 284 ratings
Ghost (Devin Townsend Project)
2011
4.00 | 238 ratings
Epicloud (Devin Townsend Project)
2012
3.77 | 106 ratings
Casualties of Cool
2014
3.66 | 66 ratings

2014

DEVIN TOWNSEND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.41 | 17 ratings
Official Bootleg
1999
3.71 | 21 ratings
Unplugged
2011
4.54 | 37 ratings
By A Thread - Live In London 2011
2012
4.79 | 28 ratings
The Retinal Circus
2013

DEVIN TOWNSEND Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.73 | 21 ratings
The Retinal Circus
2013

DEVIN TOWNSEND Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.38 | 16 ratings
Ass Sordid Demos I
1999
3.33 | 12 ratings
Ass Sordid Demos II
2004
4.59 | 17 ratings
Contain Us
2011

DEVIN TOWNSEND Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 34 ratings
Christeen + 4 Demos
1999

DEVIN TOWNSEND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Deconstruction (Devin Townsend Project) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.91 | 343 ratings

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Deconstruction (Devin Townsend Project)
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars So, this is the intense and chaotic progressive metal album that comprises one fourth of the original concept of the Devin Townsend Project (which has since progressed into six albums with "Epicloud" and also "Sky Blue" from the "Zed Squared" double disc). Having four of Strapping Young Lad's albums (Devin's other band from 1995 to 2006), I was expecting something really similar because the reviews I had read suggested so. Devin said in an interview that this is where he wanted to take Strapping Young Lad, and in another interview he said in response to a question about reforming SYL that "This is the kind of metal I want to do now".

Considering all this, I found my expectations were not met. Instead, I was faced with a mountain of creative music that I realized was going to take some time to explore and become familiar with. There is only one track here that I feel is similar to SYL's music, "Poltergeist" (an interesting title as the simultaneously released sister album is entitled "Ghost"). The rest of the album covers a surprising range of music, though still in the metal mould, from "Praise the Lowered" with lots of mellow and dark electronica to the 16-minute plus "The Mighty Masturbator" with various metal shades as well as a club music section, to the wild theatrical ride of the title track.

Fans of Devin will know that he has often worked with female vocalists (at least five that I can think of) because he writes music with a certain vocal quality or sound in mind that only woman can provide. He once said that he doesn't need to work with male vocalists because he can do most of what he needs himself. On this album, however, he wanted to make a real metal statement and called in quite a host of male guest vocalists. At first, I find the guests are not so easy to pick out. Devin is an accomplished screamer, growler, shouter, and sneerer, as well as singer, howler, whisperer, and crooner. After several listens now, I can better identify the guest vocal performances, particularly Oderus Urungus on the title track, Ihsahn on "Juular", and Paul Masvidal and Joe Duplantier on "Sumeria". Some have complained that the guest vocalists weren't used to their full capacity; however, I only feel the Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth has taken the most time to pick out considering his vocal talents.

The album alternates between shorter songs ranging between 3:29 and 6:37, and longer ones ranging between 9:27 and 16:38. My general impression of the album is that it is a precursor to the "Zed Squared" disc, "Ziltoid Dark Matters" because it includes an orchestra and choir and in parts sounds like a metal musical. It is loosely a story about a man seeking the secrets of the universe and finds himself in Hell before the Devil who offers him a cheeseburger which contains all he seeks to know. But he can't eat the burger as he's a "vege-ma- tarian" and so his quest ends in vain. I believe the message here is that we can't expect to solve life's mysteries as long as we cling to a single ideal. The limitations we impose upon ourselves will forever blind us to the truth.

The music is generally dark, brooding at times, full of rage at others, and very intense. At other times though, there are some slower moments, some of which are rather beautiful. The height of the theatrics lie in three songs: "Juular", "The Mighty Masturbator" and "Deconstruction". "Juular" features a choir singing back up and if you've seen the video with the train riding through a hellish landscape, you'll understand how the choir's vocal contribution suits the image of a train. When Ihsahn sings the chorus, the choir and music may inspire images of a very dark scene in a Tim Burton movie. "The Mighty Masturbator", in spite of its humorous title, is mostly quite serious, though the part about saving the world features some goofy spoken dialogue. Ziltoid himself makes a guest appearance here, first in voice only and later announcing that he is indeed Ziltoid the Omniscient. There's this crazy club music section where Greg Puciato sings "We praise God. He lives inside of us," and later "We praise ourselves," and finally, "We praise Satan". I find this part really cool to listen to and the meaning of the three statements together could be interpreted rather deeply and philosophically. The song concludes with a carnival atmosphere and Ziltoid introducing some freak show characters like the four-face boy, the man with seventeen testicles, and the Mankee Brothers who provide flatulence free of charge.

The wackiest, zaniest song on the album is the title track. Beginning with two scientists discussing the brain in a toilet (Devin's toilet humour fetish in full force here), the song seems to jump from theme to theme, mostly including wild, over-the-top guitar soloing, machinegun fire drumming, a choir (who sing "All beef patties, pickles onions on a sesame seed bun" in one part), and some crazy dialogue provided by Devin and Oderus (and I'm sure a third party). Fredrik Thordendal of Messhuga contributes a crazy guitar solo, too. This song really allows Devin to indulge in his elementary school boy humour with plenty of farts, toilet sounds, misplaced emphasis in the word happiness (hapPENIS), and some nose clearing and bizarre vocal sounds. It is the craziest song I have ever heard that still pretends to be serious.

I can't say there's anything I don't like about this album. True it will not impress everyone. People who don't like heavy metal will best keep away, and people who prefer their metal a bit simpler or more technical or more serious can also spend their money elsewhere. But this is one very imaginative album and one that is slowly growing on me. Recommended for the adventurous.

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 Ghost (Devin Townsend Project) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.83 | 284 ratings

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Ghost (Devin Townsend Project)
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If you were one who followed Devin Townsend's career from early on then no doubt the first instalment of the Devin Townsend Project series, 'Ki', was a surprise. Known for his various approaches to heavy metal, this album took a fairly big step away from what he was known for writing and recording. Yet the next two albums were heavy and loud, 'Addicted' having a strong pop flair but still being intense and 'Deconstruction' being a flagrant and shameless display of progressive metal. However, there was little that could have prepared the listener and fan for 'Ghost'.

Right from the beginning, you know that this is different. Flute! Clean electric guitar. A slow and easy, pretty melody and a song that makes you think of dreamily floating through soft summer clouds or soaking in a light meditative mood in a hot bath. 'Fly' sets the mood of the album but in no way defines it. From 'Heart Baby' and 'Feather' we only begin a journey through various shades and tones of light, beautiful, peaceful music with Devin's soft and lower register vocals, clean electric guitar, Kat Epple's flute and woodwinds, Katrina Natale's beautiful additional vocals, Mike St-Jean's light and subtle drumming, and even some banjo by Devin himself. Dave Young and Devin also provide plenty of synthesizer, sometimes soft and atmospheric, sometimes more like electronic relaxation music. Though iTunes has this album listed as metal, it is only by association with the Devin Townsend name. 'Ki' had its heavy moments. 'Ghost' is light years away from anything heavy or metal.

As with just about any Devin Townsend album, the music journeys through different moods and styles. 'Kawaii' and 'Ghost' give us acoustic guitar and strumming and are a little more upbeat, with 'Ghost' being that kind of song where you know the refrain and can sing it over and over and think it's beautiful and soul stirring without ever considering the rest of the song. 'Ghost' is a refrain of a melody with only subtle variations in the lyrics, a very light, warm spring day on the green grass in the park with the sun above kind of pretty song for wearing a hippy headband and going barefoot. The upbeat feel to the album here gets a bit more boost with 'Blackberry' which has some great folk banjo and guitar and reaches possibly the loudest point of the entire album just at the climax.

The next three tracks move away from the acoustic strumming and turn toward atmospheric electronic synthesizer sounds accompanied by more woodwinds. 'Monsoon', 'Dark Matters' and 'Texada' focus more on the electronic and keyboard side in what could be considered part three of this album's musical journey. 'Texada' is of particular interest to me because it is the name of an island between the British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island, my hometown being just outside of Vancouver. Though it was not inhabited by the Coast Salish peoples, it was frequently visited by them for hunting and fishing. The tracks begins with what I will presume is a Coast Salish man saying something in his native tongue and he later returns as the track winds down, speaking about something which I wish I could understand. The synthesizer in this song at times almost comes across as forceful and strong compared to the rest of the album, almost approaching a pop sound.

'Seams' is a return to the acoustic strumming, even more gentle and a bit melancholy, and then the last two tracks are long, slowly developing pieces with further emphasis on calmness, relaxing and meditative atmosphere, and ambience, including seagulls and waves.

Some people have said that the album seems a little too long, especially some of the tracks over 9 minutes that repeat the same musical theme with little variation. It's true that the flute solo in 'Feather' seems to meander for a while, the keyboard themed passage in 'Texada' seems to go on with little variation for a bit, and the repeated lyrics of 'As You Were' (Money, honey, bloody mary, money, honey, might as well marry the ghost) are iterated once or twice too many for my taste. These are the points that I would say are the only detrimental features of the music on the album, and they are for the most part inconsequential as there are times I don't notice them.

The album is very well done. Devin never comes across as someone who is attempting to do a different style. He just does it and does it well. This is truly a stand out album in his career, though for certain he has a few. But nothing compares to this (I admit I haven't heard 'The Hummer' but I suspect there's not all this flute and acoustic guitar). Wikipedia describes this as New Age, progressive rock, experimental, and ambient. I detect only the faintest hints of any rock and very light rock at that. I would call it progressive music. The above labels tell you pretty much what you can expect to hear. I very much enjoy this album.

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 Terria by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.23 | 523 ratings

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Terria
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

5 stars If the ratings on PA are any indication, then 'Terria' is the apex of Devin Townsend's solo career efforts before he went and formed a proper band, Devin Townsend Band, for his song-writing efforts outside of Strapping Young Lad. Disregarding the Punky Brewster band project of the mid-nineties, 'Terria' is his fourth solo album and it follows one of his most critically spurned albums, 'Physicist'. However, while 'Physicist' was for the most part a very thrash-based, aggressive album that suffered from a production that even the supporting band (the Strapping Young Lad dudes) disliked, 'Terria' delivers a greater diversity of sound in a warm, well-produced sonic atmosphere. It is as though the fruit went a bit sour with 'Physicist' but has reached perfect maturity here.

Typical of many of Devin Townsend's pre-Devin Townsend Project solo albums, 'Terria' integrates a variety of styles and influences. The opening track 'Olives' is very much post-metal / experimental with a spoken dialogue slowed down, sound effects, and a musical theme that takes time to build to a powerhouse of simple heavy chords. 'Mountain' begins with an intense pounding of heavy music with Devin singing in his softer, higher register. But the music then goes of exploring in a non-aggressive vein with a melody of 'whoa-whoa' before returning to the thunder of the beginning with a trademark scream. It's interesting to point out at this time that the guitar sound is not Devin's usual rich distortion tones but a simpler sound more like seventies proto- metal. If you are familiar with Captain Beyond's debut album then that is more like the guitar sound you will find here just with more bass backing it. It strikes me as having a very earthy feel to it, and in the song 'Canada', which almost has a slow and heavy country vibe to it, the guitar sound really suits the music.

Other styles to be found on 'Terria' include the unusual (for Devin) simple but classically influenced guitar solo in 'Deep Peace'; an 80's power ballad-styled number with 'Nobody's Here' which comes complete with an emotive guitar solo; an 80's hair-band song with 'Stagnant' that sounds like it could have been the closing track on an album by Cinderella or London Quireboys; and the pretty instrumental number 'Down and Under', which begins with some acoustic strumming and gradually moves to a heavier theme but not without returning to its upbeat sound at the conclusion.

For a Devin Townsend album (or Strapping Young Lad for that matter), 'Terria' includes an unusual amount of guitar soloing. According to the article on Wikipedia, Devin doesn't like shredding and only includes a guitar solo is he feels it can work within the musical framework of a song. Thus it is possible to find few if any proper guitar solos on many of his albums. Yet 'Terria' includes solos on five tracks, and Devin proves that he is capable of soloing in different styles that do indeed suit the music. In fact, listening to 'Accelerated Evolution', 'Deconstruction', and Strapping Young Lad's 'The New Black', Devin proves that he has worked very hard to be able to pull off some excellent guitar solos. But again, typical of him, he only employs any of his particular skills when he feels it belongs in a song or instrumental piece.

No early Devin Townsend album would be complete without nature sounds, radio broadcasts, background music, and other sonic decor. We can hear a Chinese radio broadcast at the conclusion of 'Mountain', a French-Canadian radio broadcast at the end of 'Canada' and also in 'Canada', a curious slowed-down recording of the beginning of a story about a bird in a nest. This recording was included at normal speed and in a longer version at the end of the 'Detox' '96 demo, which appeared as a bonus track on the reissue of Strapping Young Lad's 'City'. I have read that this is actually a recording of a story written and read out by a very young Devin Townsend.

There are two additional points to mention about the music here. The first is the curious and for me disappointing conclusion to 'The Fluke'. The song begins almost in a pop punk / 90's radio rock style which veers more into a progressive metal direction. Then the guitar and band abruptly get cancelled and some ambient / experimental keyboard sounds take over for a moment. This gets supplanted by some quick notes that play like a seventies electronic album, and this in turn drops out to be replaced by a low pulsing tone. Static fades in over the low tone and a clean guitar sound over the static brings us to the end and leads us into the next track, 'Nobody's Here'. The other bizarre track is the hidden one at the end, 'Humble' which begins very promisingly with some strummed guitar backed by bass guitar and string synthesizer. It sounds like the makings of a demo, the early framework of a song. The music attempts to move in a new direction, there's a mistake, someone laughs, the recording breaks to silence for a second, and returns. The song is abandoned for another take but then a backwards recording runs on repeat until the end of the track. This lasts for about three minutes, and at one point some water drop sounds come in. Weird.

I gave the Devin Townsend Band's 'Synchestra' five stars and at first I was sure that I would give this album only four, in spite of it being Devin's most highly rated album on PA. However, with each subsequent listen, the album has really grown on me more. I now feel it makes for a very good companion album to 'Synchestra', namely because the albums both sound very earthy to me though different in guitar sound and overall musical approach. Still, they share a commonality in that they both feature some simple heavy music in a progressive vein and some more complex music at times. The vocals cover nearly all of Devin's diverse range of ability and the music styles also spread out. In fact, if these two albums share any direct bond it can be found in a riff in 'Earth Day' which sounds very similar to a riff that surfaces in 'Baby Song' on 'Synchestra'. In style alone, 'Synchestra' makes for a good logical successor to 'Terria' even though there is a five-year gap between the two that is filled with Devin's first ambient / experimental album 'Devlab', the Devin Townsend Band's first album 'Accelerated Evolution', and two Strapping Young Lad albums!

If you are interested in progressive metal that includes traditional metal, hair metal, experimental and post metal, with a bit of aggro-metal thrown in, topped off with a twinge of heavy country on 'Terria' and world music on 'Synchestra' then I recommend buying both of these albums together.

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 Devlab by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.23 | 65 ratings

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Devlab
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Quirky Turkey

3 stars 'Devlab' is like a hot melt glue gun - it will melt you...

'Devlab' is an instrumental, experimental, ambient venture that was obviously not crafted for an audience, but for Devin's own personal pleasure in experimenting with his new (at the time) audio technology. This is made clear by the fact there's very little 'music' on the album - it's mostly floaty, seemingly aimless soundscapes and collages of noise - not really marketable or accessible. Hence what we get is quite a personal, intimate but completely insane album, a portal into a lesser known side of Devin's creative mind. They call him the 'mad scientist of metal'. Well if there's any album he's made whereby the title of 'mad scientist' is appropriate, it's this one.

The album has a heavy urban and industrial feel with no hints of nature whatsoever (unlike Devin's other ambient works like Hummer or Ghost), and even if there may be acoustic instruments somewhere in the mix, the whole album is the result of much sound manipulation, thus it's quite electronic and atmospheric. Tonally it's cold, dark and confused, but has personality and uniqueness stemming from the naivety of Devin venturing into the unknown. I would imagine he went into this project with little expectation of the end result and implemented an improvisational approach, using his then current state (doing drugs and living in a "sterile, ugly neighborhood") as an inspirational template. What came about is quite interesting.

This is my interpretation of the album: It is a compilation of the thoughts and experiences of a drugged-up man living in a lonely, dingy apartment within a dystopian future cityscape. He attempts to escape this nightmarish reality through drugs and deep sleep but is unsuccessful - the drugs only enhance his feeling of intense loneliness, adding a dazed confusion to the mix as the dull mutterings of the TV fill the emptiness in the background.

This interpretation may sound silly but that's the vibe I gather from it. In fact, Track 10 features soundclips from the science-fiction film 'Twelve Monkeys', a story built around the rise of a dystopian future and the redundant attempt to prevent it.

Beginning with Track 1, we get the sounds of Devin yelling and shrieking hysterically with tacky music in the background. It's utter nonsense and cannot be taken seriously, which is the point. I would assume this song was placed at the beginning to scare off those who expected something accessible and so the album rewards those who can get past it and aren't afraid of the unknown or unconventional.

Afterwards, for the next few songs, it would appear that Devin's process consisted of an (arguably immature) 'anything goes' approach. By this I mean that any sound he came across, anything at all, that sounded remotely interesting would be crammed into his project and manipulated with a ton of cool effects (this includes the sounds of people on TV, which led me to interpret the apartment setting). What's interesting is that this random, adventurous approach has no rules and there are no creative boundaries. But the end result is that all the 'songs' (or parts I suppose) seem to fit on this album cohesively. There is a distinct and unifying tone - the dark, dreamy, futuristic confusion.

However, some tracks do have more direction and accessibility than the meandering tracks, and these reveal themselves after Track 5:

Track 6 is a little musical with a space traveling theme. Track 8 stands out completely from the rest and is one of my favourites, having a pulsing rhythm with quirky sounds and exotic flavours. I would describe this as music that would accompany a (hypothetical) dystopian-future film by Danny Boyle. Track 12 is nice and twinkly, like a beacon of hope shining above underlying darkness. And then there's Track 13, a hypnotic journey managing to include a level of accessibility but retaining the odd atmosphere that characterises the album. The first half is simply breathtaking. And lastly I must give special mention for Track 4 which is a compelling onslaught of atonal distorted noise, a soundtrack for immense destruction. Many will hate this track, but I like it.

The album ends with Devin waking up to an alarm clock and the music ceasing, only to fade back in as if he's drifting back to sleep. He has always seemed to be fascinated by the concept of the relationship between music and dreams, as presented in the story of 'Ziltoid the Omniscient,' and how he's always inspired to record music that comes from his dreams, (like the songs 'Winter' and 'In Ah!'.)

In the end, 'Devlab' is strange and less approachable than Devin's other ambient album 'Hummer'. I however find 'Devlab' to be more interesting and engaging. To me, the album is criminally underrated or at least under-appreciated. Sure it isn't very accessible and there isn't much 'music', ('music' meaning structure, melody, or general cohesion), but credit is due for the effort that went into its creation. For what it is, it succeeds. But this will be a hard album to rate; it's not exactly musical or very listenable, but it's quality stuff for its genre and what it intends to be. So I guess 3.5 stars rounded to 3 is appropriate.

I recommend this to fans of experimental, avant-garde, ambient music, and to those with open minds, possibly in search of something unconventional or challenging. Or if you want to own music that can scare people out of the room and alienate you from your friends, this is perfect.

If you're curious and willing to give it a go, perhaps begin with track 8 or 13. If they don't interest you then move along.

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 Devlab by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.23 | 65 ratings

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Devlab
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by aglasshouse

1 stars Devin Townsend is quite an interesting man. I remember, awhile back, listening to his work in the band Strapping Young Lad, and even then I thought the sound the band produced was remarkable. Although not a huge fan of his solo work, the album art and strange album name got me hooked into listening.

Honestly, I couldn't make it through. I also felt like I picked up one of the worst albums I've heard in a long time. Alas, I don't feel like reprimanding the noise genre will get me anywhere, because the last thing I want to do is get people upset. Let's just say I'm not a fan (if that wasn't clear enough already). I've never been a huge supporter of this really odd genre of music that very few people that I've seen like. But this album is not just meaningless loud noises compiled together. No, this album has some actually nice industrial ambient songs.

Some of these tracks that I can't seem to understand are such as 'Devlab I', 'Devlab IV' (a particularly excruciating one), and 'Devlab XI'. Some of the tracks are pretty enjoyable ambient tracks, like the third installment, 'Devlab III', and 'Devlab X' are just a few.

I mean, this album isn't a total waste, but I don't really recommend it to anyone. I can respect the idea behind it, but the album's effect is overall so excruciating that I won't bring myself to tell people to go listen to it. If you are a fan of noise, go right ahead! This album is perfect for you.

I do not recommend this album.

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 Casualties of Cool by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.77 | 106 ratings

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Casualties of Cool
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Psychedelic Country? New Age Twang? Telecastic Spiritual Journey?

It will surprise no one that remembers my presence on PA that I return to reviewing by tackling a Devin Townsend album. I must admit, that despite Devy's fantastic output over the years, I was beginning to worry that he was running out of steam. EPICLOUD had some amazing songs ("Grace"), but the recycling of ideas was starting to cause me to lose interest. By the release of Z2 just a few months before this review, Devin himself is beginning to admit burnout and the effects of external forces on his creative output.

But then we have CASUALTIES OF COOL. When Devin announced that he was going to do an album of "haunted Johnny Cash songs," I was skeptical. An entire album of KI's "Trainfire" would have been a nightmare. But lo and behold, the album is released and the reviews were puzzled but positive. I listened to a few samples, and was pleasantly surprised that Che Aimee Dorval's role was much more powerful than on KI. The country twang was there, but there was also a depth I hadn't anticipated. Finally I got a chance to sit back with some headphones and listen to the whole album as a single work.

And found beauty. Powerful beauty. The chills I get when Che delivers "And so it goes..." on "Flight" is akin to that I get from "Close to the Edge" or "Supper's Ready." There's just something so real about this album when you let it sink into you. CASUALTIES OF COOL feels like the adult album Townsend has been trying to make for awhile. Always before, Townsend seemed to split himself into his component parts for separate albums. Here, he moves through blues, psychedlia, country boogie, and ambience seamlessly. Certainly, we have plenty of wide open production throughout, with a soft moodiness that borders on meditation music. But an attentive listen identifies so many layers, finally subtle. "Broken" includes a low vocal chorus and acoustics that border on gothic. Only at the end of the penultimate song "The Bridge," do we get the overpowering force of Devin's usual production. Here it is the climax of a long build, and feels all the more forceful as a result.

This album, in some ways, is almost "anti-prog." It's country-tinged. It's in 4/4 most of the way. The chord structures are straightforward. At the same time, there is probably no other album like this in existence, including across Devin Townsend's lengthy catalog. Dev took some serious risks and dug deep, and came up with something truly fresh. Truly creative, perhaps truly progressive.

As such, as much as I love this album, I don't know that it's a masterpiece of PROG music. But it's a great chill-out psychedelic journey that is among Dev's best.

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 Ki (Devin Townsend Project) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.83 | 258 ratings

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Ki (Devin Townsend Project)
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This might just be the Devin Townsend album for people who otherwise don't like his style. Known for very loud music that ranges from extreme metal to hyper-infused heavy screamo-pop, Heavy Devy is not to everyone's taste. However, Ki puts aside much of what Devin fans like or love and takes a very different approach for the most part.

Ki was the first album of an initially four-album project that attempted to explore the four sides to Devin's music. Other albums were to feature heavy pop rock, intense metal, and meditative, relaxing music. I like that idea of a four-album project, but the project has since turned more into a heavy pop project as two follow-ups, "Epicloud" and "Sky Blue" (one of the two discs in the "Zed Squared" release) have delved further into the wall-of-sound, ultra-heavy, catchy-melody-driven, bombastic pop.

What makes Ki unique in Devin's catalogue is that it avoids the heavy compression and multi-layering that Devin typically employs, earning him the titles of the new Frank Zappa and the new Phil Spector. At it's base, this album consists of a clean guitar with a warm and rich sound, bass, some keyboards including piano, and drums. A few tracks bring on the distortion but the sound is more like a single overdrive pedal rather than full on metal mayhem. Devin's vocals are mostly clean and often soft and non-aggressive. Guest vocalist Ché Dorval adds some country/bluesy vocals on three tracks. Come to think of it, I haven't heard "Casualties of Cool" yet but Ché sings on that one too and the music is said to be more country/blues styled. As for Ki, probably one of the best comparisons to make is the Canadian band Cowboy Junkies. I know Devin likes them so it's no surprise to find their style emulated in some tracks here.

The album begins with a simple mellow clean electric guitar instrumental. "Coast", the second track, is a very un-Devy-like song with a rolling bass line that sounds like Pink Floyd sped up. Soft, low vocals that border on operatic at times carry the lyrics. The mood darkens slightly at times and near the end things seem like they are building up to a chaotic release. But then it's all over.

"Disruptr" is one song where the music intensity climaxes. Brooding and heavy, Devin lets things get heavy but without sounding like modern metal. This would be more like some doom metal from the early seventies almost, save for the roaring vocals. "Gato" and "Heaven's End" also feature some more intense music, but the rest of the album stays pretty mellow and moody most of the time. "Terminal" and "Lady Helen" are really soft and beautiful songs in the Cowboy Junkies vein. "Ain't Never Gonna Win..." is a studio jam with soft seventies guitar, a bit of a funky grove to it, and some spacey keyboard effects. Sometimes on the album you can hear between songs a bit of studio banter. I imagine many songs had very few overdubs except to add extra heavy guitar or extra vocal layers. At times I think Devin is almost going for a male counterpart to Enya.

The title track is one of the interesting highlights of the album. There's such a beautiful and rich guitar part near the beginning, which sadly never returns. The middle part is so slow and mellow. Then the final stretch of the song begins with a rising-falling arpeggio of clean guitar notes onto which layers of Enyan vocals are laid and extreme metal guitar/bass/drum music builds behind it all without ever allowing the music to become metal. Then Devin comes in like an opera singer. Perhaps this is one of his more "progressive" songs that I have heard so far.

I find the first half of the album includes more heavy music than the second half, which features more slower- paced, mellow and pretty songs. The sound is really beautiful. Certainly if you have been turned off by Devin Townsend because of his heavily layered, very loud, metal/hard rock/pop then this album might at least win over your ears. As for fans of Devin's heavy side, this might be an album to broaden your perspective.

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 Christeen + 4 Demos by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
3.57 | 34 ratings

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Christeen + 4 Demos
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat

4 stars All of you who love progressive metal so much, why haven't you checked out Devin Townsend yet? Why does he still remain mostly in obscurity in all the metal circles, I can't understand that. If anyone in metal deserves to be call a genius, it's this man. His music is typically some of the loudest and most intense music ever, but I think the difficulty that people have with him is he does lean towards post metal a bit, but not in the traditional way that most people are used to. His music is a wall of sound, even when it is at it's quietest. But it's not just any wall of sound, every sound and instrument is important, but his voice is also a part of that wall of sound and it usually isn't highlighted like vocals usually are, it becomes part of the whole instead of drowning it all out. There is no background here, it's all important in the entire picture.

So, if you are looking for a safe place to start listening to Mr. Townsend's music, this might be the answer. You are not really sacrificing a lot of time to listen to this since the total playing time is only a half hour. Even though these are demos that were originally intended for the album "Infinity", they are still good quality songs and you still get a good idea as to what kind of sound to expect. If nothing else, this EP should at least pique your interest in this artist. If you are willing to invest a little more time than that, then I would suggest the "Terria" album. Either way, you will hear some great material in either album.

The first track here is simply the same track as on the Infinity album. This is, afterall, the single for Christeen. The good thing is, the rest of the tracks are songs that were left off the album, probably because of time constraints. The 4th track is actually a combination of a few songs, in other words they have been combined into one song but it is actually a suite, the last part comprising a great waltz tempo guitar piece complete with an almost operatic alto sounding voice, though it's probably just Devin showing off his crazy vocal range. All of these tracks thus far are of the excellence that you come to expect from Devin Townsend. The last track is more of an Avant Garde piece which isn't quite so typical however. Just as a warning, it is different than what you typically hear. But it is still interesting.

So, in summary, this EP is a short burst of energy. Not the best release, but still a pretty good example of his music. Even though it is an EP, it's still an excellent addition to your prog collection because of the previously unavailable music that is included. All Townsend fans should have this and those wanting to hear a snippet of how he sounds should also check it out. 4 stars.

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 Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.06 | 286 ratings

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Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band)
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It's hard to believe that I only finally got into Devin Townsend a month ago. I had seen his name often enough but assumed that he was someone like Neil Morse: an American or possibly a Briton who had made a name for himself in a prog band and had decided to go solo. Then I saw a review of "Ziltoid the Omniscient" and thought it was so crazy that I had to get it. By coincidence, I ordered "Ziltoid" around the same time as Ayreon's "The Human Equation", without knowing that Devin appeared as a guest on that album. I received Ayreon first and was deeply impressed with Devin's performance. Two days later, "Ziltoid" came to my mailbox at work, and as I rode the train home I read the Wikipedia article about Devin. I was so surprised to learn that he is a year my junior and grew up in the city across the river from my house. My childhood home in Surrey, Canada was perched on a slope overlooking the Fraser River and from my living room window I looked out at the City of New Westminster every morning. I went to college over there and spent much time in New West. Knowing that Devin and I shared the same cultural climate (we studied the same curriculum, watched the same TV shows, lived through the same local changes and events, etc.) made me feel that I really wanted to hear what this boy from the neighbourhood across the river was doing.

Now a month has passed and I have seven albums with five more on order. I have really been enjoying becoming acquainted with Devin's music, but this album here was an easy one to love because it is exactly what I have been listening to lately: progressive metal. Not all of Devin's albums lean so far to the progressive side as this one. But he has done a spectacular job here with the Devin Townsend Band.

The opening track is such a simple beautiful acoustic tune with Devin's clean and sweet vocal sound. It switches to a slow but progressive metal sound, gearing us up for what is to come. "Hyper Geek" has a fantastic beginning with acoustic strings and countryside animal sounds. It suddenly breaks into full on blasting metal and then breaks into a very melodic and heavy prog metal piece before rapidly dissolving into "Triumph". This is a fabulous piece of music with several changes (one part suddenly drops into a country bumpkin hill billy ho- down). At times I am reminded of more melodic Dream Theater or Symphony X and surprisingly even SUM 41 a bit when they were doing a Metallica rip off with added commercial melodies many years ago. Keyboards and even piano add some wonderful melodies here. The song's final stretch features a Steve Vai solo.

"Baby Song" is a bit too cute and sweet at first ("Why don't you have a baby? Why don't you have a child?") but then becomes stronger as melodic prog metal before getting more complex and then simpler but darker. The middle of the song is the most interesting for its instrumental melodies.

"Vampolka" is a humorous addition with a punk polka feel to it, and "Vampira" is a brilliant traditional metal / early thrash piece with a killer riff after the chorus that sounds like it could have come from Judas Priest's "Painkiller" album.

"Mental Tan" is a pretty piece that offers a suggestion of an orchestra near the end. How sweet that would have been had it received a more prominent role. "Gaia" emerges out of "Mental Tan" and proves to be more of a straightforward lighter metal song with a catchy instrumental section in the middle.

"Pixillate" is the next killer track for me with a Middle eastern flavour and some great prog metal. It's dark and moody and heavy. Brilliant! After that "Judgement" and "A Simple Lullaby" feature more slow progressive metal, great heavy melodies, and some special moments. But perhaps because I am already on overload up to here with good music, I feel these songs are the weaker part of the album. My mind wanders during these two tracks except for when some change in the music brings me back temporarily.

"Sunset" has a great melodic 80's rock sound and a very positive vibe. There's more of that sweet piano again. It really shows how Devin can write beautiful music with a rock band but it is short though, and soon we are into the last track on the album, "Notes from Africa" which is actually only a five-minute song with a few minutes of jungle sounds after (which I highly suspect were recorded in the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver). One thing I noticed in this song were the lines "Oh, what a feeling / Oh, what a feeding" which reference the Strapping Young Lad song "Love?" from the album "Alien". As I have come to learn, Devin often self-references.

An unlisted track on the CD sneaks in at end. "Sunshine and Happiness" is a cheery rock and roll / pop punk tune which doesn't really fit in with the rest of the album, which is probably why it wasn't listed on the CD. It's a fun tune but really different from the tone set by the rest of the album.

So far, this album really stands out in my Devin Townsend collection, along with "Ki" which is also very different. So many sides to Devin's music and vocal style are captured here. Do check it out!

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 Z² by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.66 | 66 ratings

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Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The original Ziltoid album, "Ziltoid the Omniscient" was a one-man show. Devin Townsend recorded the whole thing at home, playing all instruments except for drums, for which he used Drum Kit from Hell to program the drums. He did nearly all the voices: vocals, Ziltoid and his crew, Captain Spectacular, narrator, Planet Smasher and others. There are only two other names credited as guests (one called The Beav) who provided a small contribution. The story was wacky, cheesy, silly. The music sincere, loud, fun, and sometimes really good. Whether you liked it or not, it was an album that showed what one person's imagination could do and get away with. It was crazy. It was cool because it was so crazy.

"Zed Squared", as it is called (written as Z to the power of 2), is the sequel, and like many sequels to original movies, the budget was way bigger this time. No longer a one- man show, this album features a band, a choir, and an orchestra along with guests playing the main characters (Chris Jericho as Captain Spectacular, Dominique Lenore Persi as Blataria the War Princess, and famous broadcaster Bill Courage as the narrator). You could compare the two albums to "Terminator" and "T2" for budget or "Alien" and "Aliens" for a boost in the cast. The album is big and loud, the story cheesier and sillier, the music over the top, and the voices and sound effects will make you feel like some 50's B sci-fi movie has been remade into a heavy metal musical.

Devin himself has stated in interviews that even he can't say what the true meaning behind it all is. He won't know for a while. For now, more than anything, he hopes that someday in the future people will look back on this album and think that it was incredible that anyone could do this. Not just him. This entire project with so many people involved to make the vision come true. About the story he has also said that many ideas were given to him by children and that he sucks at writing stories. But he loves theater and entertainment and puppets ("The Dark Crystal" left an indelible mark on him as a child) and he really wanted this to be a huge production. In fact, it was so demanding that numerous times he wanted to just quit. But he didn't and that's one big reason why he's so proud of it. In addition, the schools were on strike while he was working on wrapping up the album and kids were tearing up the place.

Keeping the big impossible production theme in mind, you'll find that the story and voices drive the album along as much as or perhaps even more than the music. I find myself paying more attention to the story and voice acting than many of the songs. Bill Courage is excellent and a familiar voice to me, having grown up in Canada with Bill's voice often on television programs. Some of the lines in the script are so silly and Bill hits the delivery right on. There is so much that is cliché in this story and so much ham, cheese, and corn that you'll wish you had some bread to go with it except that Devin spent all the bread on making an animatronic Ziltoid puppet (search for Ziltoid ZTV on YouTube).

As everything is so big and loud, I find that my visual impression of the music is not of a 3-D array of instruments and voices where I can move between the sounds and pick out the individual instruments but rather like a wall with a raised-relief surface in which the instruments are carved. It can be a little too solid, dense, and massive at times. If you can get past the theatrical aspects, there are song great songs here. I really like "War Princess" and the catchier single, "Death Ray", which is full of clichés both in composition style and voice acting lines. It is so brilliant like that though, and I love it! "People of Earth! We are your Poozonian overlords. You cannot run. Resistance is futile. Hand over your coffee!"

If there are any real disappoints for me, they are in changes made to the story. In particular, after so much was made about the Planet Smasher (a.k.a. Herman) coming to earth, it was a let down to hear him described as being a cute furry little creature the size of a football, whose voice could destroy entire galaxies. In the CD booklet that came with "Ziltoid the Omniscient", the Planet Smasher is said to be so huge that he can't help but destroy planets when he moves about. But perhaps in his sixth dimensional nature he is as such. In his three dimensional form his only appears to be so small and cuddly. There are a few other small misses in attention to scientific and language detail that irk me a touch but I can let them go. In the end I think the album really is an incredible product. However, Devin warns us not to say that you love it or you hate it so soon. It'll take time before any of us can really understand what it really is. Well, for me it's more than an album of songs. It is an audio movie, or like those old radio dramas.

I purchased the limited edition, 3 CD set in the digipak with the extra artwork and it really looks spectacular. One disc is the Ziltoid disc without the between-song dialogue and most of the narration. As some of the songs contain music meant to be background music for the narration and dialogues, the extended instrumental sections that don't move anywhere can seem to drag on. Listening to the album proper is actually more entertaining and enjoyable in those moments. But because the dialogue is removed between songs, it's possible to enjoy just the songs themselves.

The third disc, which is actually the first disc, is the sixth installment in the Devin Townsend Project series, called "Sky Blue". The music here is very poppy until near the end but with the loud guitars and wall of sound that you'd expect from Mr. Townsend. Most of the music is not particularly complex but the melodies are very catchy and beautiful and Anneke van Giersbergen from the DTP album "Addicted" is back. The combination of her vocals with Devin's make the music sometimes sound like Enya meets melodic pop metal turned full blast. I'm enjoying "Sky Blue" quite a bit and have picked out a few favourite tracks already despite the heavy pop flavour (or perhaps because of?). Devin warns though that the songs are not so cheerful like those on "Epicloud". Prior to writing the songs, some people he knew passed away and his cat was eaten. But I find the songs are infused with hope. One line in "Universal Flame" optimistically claims, "Look for hope and it will find you," and the song ends with "The sun will rise again." Having recently acquired "Ghost" I think there are some elements of "Ghost" in the music here with the loud pop of "Epicloud".

Upon repeat listens, I can get used to the wall of sound if I listen from start to finish; however, when listening to a mixed playlist of Devin's music, "Sky Blue" sounds too dense even when compared to "Addicted" or Strapping Young Lad. I really feel that there are some beautiful melodies that are carried not as a stream of individual notes but a nebula of coloured sound with the flow of notes somewhere inside. When the album turns more atmospheric near the end it seems that even subtly has been pumped up to 10!

Overall quite a lot of music to digest but enjoyable. Perhaps I just have to get used to the massive sound that Devin likes to use. I give three stars to "Sky Blue" only because the music is simpler and four to "Ziltoid Dark Matters". The Ziltoid album has more complex music in places, and with the choir and orchestra Devin has really put something remarkable together. I can think of no other album quite like it, though at times I am reminded of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".

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