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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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KiKi
Inside Out Music 2009
Audio CD$11.10
$8.76 (used)
TerriaTerria
Import
Imports 2012
Vinyl$23.99
$13.77 (used)
Presents: Ziltoid the OmniscientPresents: Ziltoid the Omniscient
Inside Out 2007
Audio CD$9.80
$9.83 (used)
DeconstructionDeconstruction
Inside Out U.S. 2011
Audio CD$8.95
$8.27 (used)
GhostGhost
Limited Edition
Inside Out U.S. 2011
Audio CD$8.03
$7.97 (used)
SynchestraSynchestra
Limited Edition
Plastic Head 2011
Vinyl$17.99
$17.75 (used)
AddictedAddicted
Inside Out U.S. 2009
Audio CD$9.23
$10.02 (used)
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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)

4.01 | 242 ratings
Ocean Machine: Biomech
1997
3.69 | 171 ratings
Infinity
1998
2.95 | 124 ratings
Physicist
2000
4.21 | 544 ratings
Terria
2001
3.95 | 190 ratings
Accelerated Evolution (The Devin Townsend Band)
2003
2.23 | 68 ratings
Devlab
2004
4.08 | 298 ratings
Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band)
2006
2.51 | 66 ratings
Hummer
2006
4.20 | 479 ratings
Ziltoid the Omniscient
2007
3.84 | 269 ratings
Ki (Devin Townsend Project)
2009
3.87 | 275 ratings
Addicted (Devin Townsend Project)
2009
3.95 | 353 ratings
Deconstruction (Devin Townsend Project)
2011
3.86 | 294 ratings
Ghost (Devin Townsend Project)
2011
4.02 | 255 ratings
Epicloud (Devin Townsend Project)
2012
3.92 | 127 ratings
Casualties of Cool
2014
3.80 | 88 ratings

2014

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

3.41 | 17 ratings
Official Bootleg
1999
3.48 | 22 ratings
Unplugged
2011
4.54 | 37 ratings
By A Thread - Live In London 2011
2012
4.77 | 31 ratings
The Retinal Circus
2013

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

4.57 | 28 ratings
The Retinal Circus
2013

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

3.35 | 17 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)

3.60 | 36 ratings
Christeen + 4 Demos
1999

DEVIN TOWNSEND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.08 | 298 ratings

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

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

5 stars By far, the most cohesive of all Devin Townsend's albums, and also the most diverse, sonically and musically.

This by far is the trickiest album of Devin's by far to pigeonhole into a certain theme or story. It starts off with beautiful acoustic themes, with "Let It Roll" almost channeling a historic American folktune, while "Hypergeek" transitions from the acoustic to a child-like arpeggio that layers the guitars and drums and reverb to crescendo into "Triumph".

There's definitely a lot of references to childhood melodies, as evidenced by "Babysong" and "A Simple Lullaby", which are self-explanatory: long, reverb filled soundscapes with hypnotic, entrancing melodies that sway with waltz like motives. And frankly, it's very calming considering this album was recorded after making "Alien" with Strapping Young Lad", an album he prepared for by purposely not taking the medicine required to treat his bipolar disorder. So in a sense, this album is supposed to be the exact opposite of it, and it really feels it.

That's not to say this album is lacking in heat, though. The cheesy "Vampolka", despite being cheesy, is a fun minute and a half of surf guitar and polka, segueing into the much heavier counterpart "Vampira", grooving and chugging along like the theme to a bad "Twilight"spinoff series.

Although there are interludes like "Mental Tan" to bring you back down to earth, and "Gaia" which channels "Accelerated Evolution's penchant for catchy songs with reverb out the wazzoo and wonderfully heavy melodies, you can tell there's still a conflict with Devin's angrier half that just finished "Alien" with SYL, and that anger is very prevalent in "Vampira", the Middle-Eastern tinged "Pixillate" (my favorite off the album), and the end of "A Simple Lullaby". The whole album is a huge tug of war between Devin's bipolarity, the album in his entire discography where this conflict is most prevalent. "Judgement" is another bombastic piece, but the happy mood here, much like the rest of the album, is occasionally displace by outbursts of anger and hate, especially at the end of "A Simple Lullaby" (where the main theme is interrupted by Townsend's "Ready, Steady, Aim, Fire!" line).

Overall, though, it's a much happier album than most of Townsend's other records, while still maintaining some heavy outbursts, catchy reverb songs and plenty of proggy goodness. Definitely the first album I'd recommend to a non-Devin fan. This entire album is a summary of his multi-faceted musical style in a nutshell. An absolutely brilliant masterpiece of insanity, progressiveness and just good ol fashioned metal.

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 Accelerated Evolution (The Devin Townsend Band) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.95 | 190 ratings

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Accelerated Evolution (The Devin Townsend Band)
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I have a feeling that amongst Townsend fans, each listener would either prefer "Terria' or "Accelerated Evolution", one or the other, because although both share in their colossal amounts of reverb, both albums are structure very differently.

"Terria" is vast, grandiose, quick moments of bombast interspersed with vast wastelands of atmosphere and synth overlays. "Accelerated Evolution" is more concise, taking that same bombast and open space and constricting it betwixt catchy verses and choruses.

I'm not saying "Terria" is minimalist by any stretch, but I find myself listening to "AE" much more often than the former. "Depth Bomb" is a perfect example. Right away, it's loud, it's fast paced, it's catchy, and it can easily make its way onto your daily workout playlist. "Storm" takes that same energy and slows down the speed almost into a waltz like feel, with Townsend's falsetto's and screams soaring above huge synths and pounding drums.

And that to me is my only little niggle with "Terria". On songs like "Mountain" and "Earth Day", the action happened immediately for a brief couple minutes or so, then faded away into the musical equivalent of a prairie. "Deadhead" for example starts off the exact opposite way. The lone reverbed guitar builds the tension to the point when the drums come in, it creates a musical effect akin to the scene of an arriving war machine, or something out of Star Wars with the Star Destroyer hovering into view. And through that effect, my attention is still maintained, because even though it is a fairly minimalist song, you know what you're getting for the next 8 minutes: reverb, falsetto, loud synths. This main theme continues for 4 minutes before the drums fade out, then the guitars introduce a B theme for a couple minutes, and then drums segue back to the A theme and closes the song out with the verse Townsend sings in the beginning.

And that's kinda of the thing with "Deadhead" and "Awake". They're both structured the same way, so when you listen to them, they become predictable, and thus, more enjoyable (if there was an oxymoron). But I do find myself listening to these songs while I'm driving, which I can't say for any songs off of "Terria" (yet, I'm still working on that).

This album is essentially the best combination of the catchy songs of "Biomech", with the massive reverb of "Infinity" and the colossal space and air of "Terria", all in digestible chunks. It's the best of all worlds. "Suicide" is a bare-knuckled brawler, filled with a haunting dissonant theme humming through the echoing air, while "Traveller", "Sunday Afternoon" and "Slow Me Down" are essentially the equivalent of pop-rock songs with so much more heart and texture than anything else. Basically, these are songs that make you feel like a badass when you drive along listening to them.

The way I look at DT albums, I look at them like progressions, like you can imagine Townsend finishing "Terria", releasing it, then looking back on it saying "Ya know, that was pretty good, but I think I can do better." And thus "Accelerated Evolution" was born. And honestly, I thank you for making that decision, good sir. It's just such a happy album, a musical experience that just bathes you in reverb and sound and good vibes. One of my all time favorites.

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 Zē by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.80 | 88 ratings

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Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The main criticism behind this album seems to be an overall agreement in bombast over substance.

And I strongly disagree, because in all honesty, there wasn't a whole lot of substance on the first album.

I won't knock it, I enjoy the humor of the first Ziltoid album, but eventually the album morphed from telling an incomprehensible story about an alien invasion and coffee to just the ending of "Biomech", length and bombast with no substance or continuation of plot. The ending of the album frankly fell on its face.

Here I think Devin decided to correct that error. Knowing the Ziltoid plot would eventually just descend into nonsense (as all Townsend stuff does), he decided to focus more on bombast, more orchestral samples, more choirs and backing vocals, more loud, more raw, more everything. The perfect recipe for any soundtrack to a movie (real or otherwise). I understand that this strategy won't appeal to everyone, but frankly, I think it just makes the quality on this album much better. The album transitions much more cleanly from song to song. "Z2" actually sounds like an overture, rather than just the cartoonish 30 seconds of hell from "ZTO", and overture that continues with "From Sleep Awake". Rather then just a few songs stuck together with narration to make it sound like a concept album, the songs actually flow better and connect seamlessly. Overall, the production is just better, and that alone makes this album worthy of the extra star.

And while there may be a hint of humor lacking from the sequel, there's more of a sense of urgency, more drama. "War Princess" signals a forthcoming war, and as such, the tempo chugs along with thick, bassy drums, reverbed guitars and triumphant, echoing string samples and vocals. It's a war march, and it sound like it. "Deathray" is the equivalent to "Ziltoidia Attaxx!" from Z1, but instead of just downtuned guitars, chugging riffs and blastbeasts, it's a bit more sophisticated than that. It sounds more like a battle tune and not just a meat-headed breakdown. It just sounds like Devin put more time into this album than the first Ziltoid (which explains the blog post on his website saying that Z2 took a lot out of him and that he was nearly exhausted when it was all said and done).

Overall, the album doesn't sound like it was recorded in a tin can like Ziltoid 1. Yes, it's also more serious than the first, but that also makes it better, like it or not. It's an album that actually carries my full attention to the very end, an album that actually continues a somewhat follow able plot line to the every end! But honestly, it's not a surprise. I had a feeling if Townsend was going to do a sequel to Ziltoid, he'd make it bigger, badder and better. And by god, did he succeed.

But of course, there is a second album to be had here, which ironically, is the first.

Dubbed "Sky Blue", this is another atmospheric, reverb-tastic album full of catchy melodies and brutal riffs, which "Rejoice" begins with (with Anneke van Giersbergen once again providing some fantastic and haunting vocals). Think the bombast of "Epiclouder" meeting the colossal reverb and noise of "Accelerated Evolution", and you've basically summed up this disc. It's brilliant. Catchy choruses ("Fallout"), beautiful soaring melodies ("Midnight Sun"), and atmospheric ballads ("Rain City"). This disc is nothing to sneeze at either. Although with this disc I might have given just 4 stars, together with Z2, this whole thing is just another big, stupid, loud spectacle, which, in Townsend's world, equals a masterpiece. Just another ruckus, hilarious take on metal and everything else.

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 Epicloud (Devin Townsend Project) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.02 | 255 ratings

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

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Addicted 2.0?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Ki (Devin Townsend Project) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.84 | 269 ratings

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

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The first release of under the "Devin Townsend Project" is also the most unique of Townsend's entire catalog. There's a heavy side that's familiar, but yet it's also a different approach.

"A Monday", the intro, is a perfect example of it. It's just a little guitar ballad, almost sounding Buckethead-like texture-wise, and although it's not much to go by, "Coast", the track it segues into confirms this fact. This album is much more down-tempo, genuinely a much softer album. Much of the song has Devin whispering across gentle plucks of the guitar, a pretty standard drum beat and gentle bell tones here and there. It almost boarders on the shoegaze / post-rock realm. When you listen to it, it even sounds minimalist, as if the song sounds much longer than it actually is, even though it isn't devoid of material or action like minimalist music traditionally is. However, the increasing tension towards the end before it fades out into a neo-classical guitar spot shows a hidden, darker side to this album.

The first of which is evident in "Disruptr". Now we get a much darker, grungier tone, the beat continues to hang back, as Devin's whispers turn raspier, much more serious, more violent. And once again, as the tension builds in the song, the chords get heavier, the screams more prominent, and halfway into the song, the distorted chords make their presence known as Devin is full on screaming, but only for a short while, as the arpeggiated plucks return underneath more of Devin's croons before settling back in the rhythmic dissonant plucking that has accompanied the entire song.

"Gato" essentially continues where "Disruptr' leaves off, except the former is actually a bit catchy, with hints of Nirvana as Che Dorval sings through the chorus, but then Devin turns it up to 11 and essentially repeats the process except with distorted chords at a maximum and screams up and beyond. It's an unusually haunting and yet still captivating track, while easily being one of the heaviest on the album.

"Terminal" then brings it back down to Earth, soft, down-tempo music, almost rivaling the ambiance and simplicity of "Ghost", with the rare beautiful chorus bisecting soundscapes of ambiance, echoing guitars and electronics. Then "Heaven Send" once again ushers in echos of grunge, particularly Soundgarden this time around (with whiffs of Pearl Jam soloing here and there). And with that grungy sound returns the sinister-isms, the growls and whispers underneath consistent but crunching guitar plucks. But it's also much more elaborate than that, with unusual Buckethead-styled guitar solos, and the occasional tension almost building to the top (a la "Deconstruction"). Although just when you expect it to end, Devin (or rather, one of the other musicians) decides to just redo the end, and the whole take and retake is included in the song. Unusual decision from the production standpoint, but I find it interesting, and it gives you another opportunity in the same playthrough to appreciate that punishing ending.

"Ain't Never Gonna Win" is a good break from that punishing track, with a bluesy groove essentially influenced by the previous track and essentially isolated into a jam band track. "Winter" then continues that jam band beat, and then tunes it down a bit to incorporate more of Townsend' subtle singing from "Coast" and "Terminal". Continuing onward, "Trainfire" still retains a bit of that grungy plucking, but instead incorporates a bit of down home, country-fresh cooking, complete with bits of ragtime-y piano and Elvis-esque vocals, and mixes them into his own twisted, heavy metal concoction.

Once again, without making each song sound the same, Devin has created an identity for this album that tweaks the recipe here and there. In general, down-tempo music is the name of the game. The occasional grunge-tastic tracks like "Disruptr", "Gato" and "Heaven Send" keep some meat on the bones, but the rest of the album falls to ambiance and beautiful melodies on songs like "Coast", "Terminal", "Lady Helen", "Ki". It really then feels like a mix between "Deconstruction" and "Ghost", from an album that preceded both of them. Rather unusual, but then again, we ARE talking about Devin Townsend, here. Unusual or not, the sound he concocts with this amazing band on this album is one not to be missed, showcasing both heavier and lighter sides of music that should appeal to all fandoms of prog.

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 Addicted (Devin Townsend Project) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.87 | 275 ratings

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

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If I remember correctly, this is Devin Townsend's 2nd album under his Project moniker, after "Ki". Now, "Ki" is an interesting album, the sound of DT at his heaviest but not reverb-iest. It's a different sound that made sense, a different sound I liked.

Although, I really don't know where he was going with this album exactly.

"Ki" has more of a grungier, down-tempo feel to it, whereas "Addicted" from the surface looked like a parody of pop-rock sellouts, but the title track proves otherwise, I think. It has a really strong Marilyn Manson-Rob Zombie kinda of groove to it, and Townsend's screams really give it this dirty, grungy sound to it, a sound that continues on into "Universe In A Ball". It's not a terrible sound, but maybe I don't like it at this point in time because it wasn't what I was expecting. Even the middle of the song dissuades expectations, almost going into a more industrial metal sound, a la Celldweller.

"Bend It Like Bender" then starts and now that catchy rock atmosphere is starting to form. But by now I'm also understanding that this particular album doesn't have a certain "identity" that Townsend's albums normally do. After all, singer Anneke has a huge part on this album, and her absence on the first two tracks puzzled me a bit, because the rest of the songs on the album really jell and flow together. "Supercrush" gives Anneke some room to flex her pipes, and I love her rendition of "Hyperdrive"

Now that the album is starting to make more sense, "Resolve" sounds like a parody of an 80's hair metal band, like a Motley Crue-ism. "In-Ah" is the album's signature ballad (beautifully done, by the way), and "The Way Home" sounds like it's best fit would've been on the Ziltoid album. "Numbered" starts off like DT's future "Deconstruction album (perhaps that's where the idea came from, just take the first 19 seconds of that song and make an hour long album based off that), and "Awake" follows suit with the duo of Townsend and Anneke singing in vast open reverbed soundscapes with hints of "Deconstruction's" brutal, darker side.

So apart from the first two songs, which really don't seem to fit the image of the album's theme (which I've been accustomed to from being a loyal fan and listener), the album's parody-like approach on pop-rock makes sense, lest the first two songs WERE supposed to parody guys like Manson and Zombie and whatnot. As a purely prog standout, though, this is not. Even though there are a few catchy tunes here, it's not DT's best work, despite Anneke singing beautifully, and getting tons of work as well. The disc, while brandishing a theme, still has a lack of cohesiveness, a lack of identity. It's still a good album to have if you're a fan, but if you're looking for DT's juiciest offerings, look elsewhere.

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 Ziltoid the Omniscient by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.20 | 479 ratings

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Ziltoid the Omniscient
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is album is essentially the epitome of Devin Townsend's madness and genius working in conjunction.

It's not my favorite album of his, almost because I'm trying to focus TOO much on the story and the story doesn't quite make sense because, well, it's not? And also the songs individually are fantastic, together there's still a lack of cohesiveness to the album as a whole.

And amazingly, Devin decides NOT to bludgeon you to death with reverb at the beginning of "By Your Command". In fact, the sound, especially the drums, have a deadened, punchier sound. Fair enough, as it essentially is Ziltoid's "Imperial March" if you will, designed to strike fear to those who disrespect the wonders that coffee can bring to the masses, who will be subsequently executed by barrage of noise during "Ziltoidia Attaxx!" The concept makes absolute sense, but I don't get the kind of epicness from a movie trailer during this big climactic event, not nearly as much of a spectacle that the "overture" "ZTO" introduces.

Perhaps I'm looking too much into it from an analytical perspective. If you sit down and imagine a Ziltoid movie and place this album as the accompanying soundtrack, it makes perfect sense. The image that's conjured up during "Solar Winds" and the narration telling the story (behind reverbed guitars, of course) is chilling, and Devin's mid-range vocals in the beginning here work spectacularly well. As a song, it's one of the highlights off the album, I just preferably prefer a version without the narration, some of the segues from track to track just aren't entirely convincing, methinks.

The tracks in of themselves though are fantastic. "Hyperdrive" is exactly what you think it is, essentially a radio rock tune from outer space, and that's not to mock DT at all (in this instance, I prefer the version of this song from "Addicted!", as Devin's lower-range singing just doesn't have the kind of energy this track is propelled by). "N9", by contrast, has its own surging energy galloping along before arpeggiated dissonant scales conjure up, I don't know, traveling through a mysterious nebula? It's a fairly heavy piece, though, brutal blastbeats pummel their way before cutting down to half tempo and trudging its way to the end behind a brass choir that's very evocative of Middle Eastern themes (potentially an homage to "Pixillate" from "Synchestra"? I hear a lot of that in there).

But that's not all the heavy devy that, well, Hevy Devy, brings. "Planet Smasher" is the most barbaric off perhaps all his songs. A solid minute of distorted chords behind narration builds tension and angst before the Planet Smasher is summoned, and from there it's just straight up brutality. Not my favorite, but it's a fun meat-head song if you don't like losing a few brain cells.

An interlude discussing Ziltoid's failure at everything and questioning his purpose leads to "Color Your World", another 9 minute brute of a piece, double bass drums furiously pounding, spewing noise and screams, rhythmically pounding away like a mechanized war machine. Eventually, though, by 4 minutes in, all the loud stuff fades out, while Townsend, um, goes to town, arpeggiating up and down mystical scales and chords in an ethereal lullaby. The drums here sound out of place, the cymbal crashes don't mesh with the subtlety of the guitars. Once the action picks back up, though, it's all well and good, but just the first instance sounds conflicted. With a minute left, then, the heavy comes back and pounds its way into the closing track, "The Greys". As a summary, the track really feels like two songs in one, and the last minute outro just feels tacked on, with no real symmetry from the first section or the second.

So by this point I have no idea what's going on in the story, and "The Greys" sounds like a concluding finale to... something, I don't even remember anymore. However, taken from face value, it's a nice sounding track. I just personally believe it would be better if it was on another album. From a conceptual story point of view, it doesn't quite work. Then again, I may be taking that point too seriously, and, well, Devin doesn't really do serious, as we know.

What I do know is that I applaud the first half of the album more then I do the second. From "Color Your World" to the end, the point is lost to me and my ear, and I just can't be bothered anymore. The rest of the album, though, is fantastic, and I do applaud Townsend's either bravery or insanity from devising an idea like this, but considering I expect 90000% from concept albums, this album kinda bummed me out in terms of the epic, cartoonish scale I was hoping. Then again, maybe that's what Townsend wanted to make, I don't know.

So if that is, then all I can say is, bravo, Devin, well done!

Now get me a grande cappuccino, slacker.

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 Infinity by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.69 | 171 ratings

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Infinity
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

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).

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 Ocean Machine: Biomech by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.01 | 242 ratings

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Ocean Machine: Biomech
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ok, so perhaps the sound, the quality, the speaking samples, and the artwork are a bit 90's, but still, even on his first album, Devin Townsend loved his reverb.

"Seventh Wave", the album's opener makes that loud and clear after a brief but poetic spoken monologue, and while the track isn't entirely busy or overwhelming like some of his later works, even here DT's composition has led to some memorable and even catchy lyrics, as "Life" is a brilliant example of. Hell, it's probably Townsend's catchiest song ever written.

But even by now, there is a major contrast from his first work and his later ones. 1) It is a bit serious, even though he's capable of being serious or not whenever he feels like it and 2) Although the reverb is present, I don't ever get that complete "Drowned out by an orchestra" feeling. Perhaps it's because of the 90's recording quality? Perhaps, but even though it's a slight niggle on the album itself, it doesn't diminish the compositions at all.

Perhaps the interesting thing, though, is that here on his first serious solo work, all these songs are perhaps his most accessible Townsend has ever made, and will forever be, since people who listen to DT's music now will know of that humorous background, that some people might not even take his music seriously sometimes anymore. I know I don't from time to time.

But because it might have been better to play it safe on his first solo album, all of these songs are happy melodies (charged by reverbed guitars, of course), and while they're very lovely song, great driving songs in fact, there is one flaw. Yes, he uses lots of vocal and speaking samples and recordings and dabbles in other electronic wizardry, but there is one thing that is severely lacking: variety.

Now, of course at this point I'd be a fool to call a Devin Townsend album "predictable", because none of them are, and never will be. However, on certain albums ("Terria", "Accelerated Evolution", "Ghost" come to mind, great as these albums are), the repetition factor can kick in fairly early and almost dull the excitement for the remainder of the album to come. After "Hide Nowhere", the album does take an interesting left turn to the ballad "Sister" as the music slows down and fades into "3 A.M." where even the guitars fade out to just Devin calmly singing over a seascape of noise, synths and samples, right before the album kicks into a happy groove again with "Voices In The Fan".

Even here, though, glimpses of DT's eccentricities shine through, particularly the choral spot at the end of "Fan", and even "Greetings" starts with sch an enthusiasm that very few of Townsend's songs have ever matched, despite its fairly short length. "Regulator" though is unusual, his heaviest song so far on this album, complete with a few screams. It's rather surprising there's any screaming on here at all, really, considering DT is still with Strapping Young Lad at this point, figuring he'd want a change of pace with his musical style, and of course it doesn't take long before "Funeral" sounds like the beginning of a mid 2000's indie rock song. Despite that, though, it's fairly mild compared to the rest of the album's offerings, and takes a break from the traditional synth-overloaded reverb-fest, definitely one of the softer sides of Townsend revealed, and one of my favorites on the disc.

Now we get to the two juggernauts, even though "Funeral", at this point in the album, was already the longest at 8 minutes, "Bastard comes in at a little over 10, almost picking up where "Funeral" left off at the same leisurely drum pace. This track is one of his classic "reverb soundscapes" as I call them. "Accelerated Evolution" has a number of this such as "Deadhead" and "Away": no tempo changes, fairly slow speeds and plenty of reverb, reverb and noise. Not in a deafening way, but in a multi-layered fashion. It's that typical sound he's after, with the reverb leaving echoes behind and creating these ethereal wisps and trails of music and noise behind, laying chords on top of chords and leaving the drums to create a big, full, thick backbone behind these gargantuan monoliths as they trudge along with synths blaring and Townsend's power chords continuing to strum away for another 7 or so minutes.

The longest song, "The Death Of Music", clocking in at over 12 minutes, is also is most experimental of the lot, creating an eerie soundscape of dissonant piano chords behind whispers and sound samples, and the first words he sings still behind this atmosphere almost remind me of Roger Waters behind a trademark Pink Floydian soundscape. Almost. Still, this is by far the most experimental of the albums songs, and it fairly remains static and predictable for the most part, sounding more and more Floyd-like as you near the end, and even the intro strums of "Thing Beyond Things" almost has a Floydian quality to them, as if the band is ready to break out into a 50 minute long jam behind wailing guitar solos and synth-backed soundscapes. Except it's less interesting, as it's basically a ballad.

Still, not bad at all for Townsend's first effort. The latter half of the disc is fairly forgettable, with "Funeral" and maybe "The Death Of Music" being exceptions, while the first is filled with catchy, reverb-tastic power tunes. It may not be entirely sophisticated as his later albums, but for a Townsend fan, it's still going to be an undeniable sound.

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 Ghost (Devin Townsend Project) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.86 | 294 ratings

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

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After playing "Deconstruction" on repeat for quite a long time, this album is just so refreshing.

Texture and content wise, this is the complete opposite of "Deconstruction", metal, choir, screams and shouts replaced with flutes, acoustic guitar, oohs and aahs. This is meditative music at its heart, relaxing, sedative, no metal or screams here.

And yet, both albums, though vastly different in sound and style, they both share a common bond, one that almost all Townsend's albums share: depth. Townsend has an innate obsession with sound, so much so that nearly every single one of his albums goes overboard on reverb and echos, enough to drown out an orchestra.

And that is evident here, but in a different form. Heavier albums rely on massively reverbed guitars to echo, to carry on for what sounds like hours. Here, though, the effect DT creates is through the use of absolute subtlety. The flute plays as softly as it can, acoustic guitars pluck gently, singing is soft and caressing, all the while a substantial mellowing soundscape echoes and careens through space and time. Especially in free-flowing music which most of the album is, beating time is irrelevant, and when you create beautiful melodies like Townsend has on this album, you really don't want them to end, and for the most part, they don't.

"Heart Baby" is one such track, where the guitar is the only thing constantly keeping time, and the vocals just provide harmonies. The flute is the dominant voice (and Kat Epple on this album is just fantastic: expressive, passionate, truly soulful playing), and when all else fades out to leave it to "solo", if you will, the atmosphere just turns into a kind of putty for the flute to create its own sonic painting over, with occasional guitar plucks to have a gentle conversation with. The last minute and a half is just stunning. The flute part isn't virtuosic by any means, but it ain't boring either. It rather follows the middle ground, no jarring notes or melodies to disrupt the listener, but also arpeggiates across scales to, in effect, create a chord, something flutes can't do. Rather, with the echo, the arpeggio sounds like a chord, full and rich. Just an absolutely sublime piece of composition.

There are real songs in here, though. "Kawaii" is a beautiful guitar led ballad rather than some take on Japanese slang or anything. "Seams" is a quiet pop ballad laid over top synth drums, and "Blackberry" (a surprise favorite for me) is a trip through a classic Louisiana marshland, complete with a croaking frog backdrop and some delicate plucks on the banjo. The rest of the album though is just sheer ambiance.

After all, this isn't an album designed to hit the Billboard charts. This is Devin Townsend's bipolar disorder at work. Get the anger out on "Deconstruction", relax and soothe on "Ghost. Not only is it a good album overall, but it also again displays the flexibility of Townsend to adapt to many different musical styles and genres. It really is something special though, a nice change of pace from the hectic, almost over complicated world of prog and life in general.

This isn't complicated at all. What this album is is simplicity, distilled. A meditative experience best served chilled.

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