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Devin Townsend - Casualties Of Cool: Casualties Of Cool CD (album) cover

CASUALTIES OF COOL: CASUALTIES OF COOL

Devin Townsend

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.90 | 200 ratings

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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.

Negoba | 4/5 |

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