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Devin Townsend - Physicist CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend


Experimental/Post Metal

2.92 | 165 ratings

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

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

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

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

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

FragileKings | 2/5 |


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