I remember the day Devin said he was quiting Strapping Young Lad. I was watching a very old British TV station called Rock something or other (it was very good but it didn't meet viewers needs and kind of fell into the ground). Devin was performing a puppet show as Ziltoid and made me laugh like the hyenas from The Lion King.
Then Devin comes out and says “I'm done!”
I was saddened. I had just gotten into Devin's work and hearing him say he was retiring from music pretty much was sad. But...luckily enough he was pretty much stating he was leaving Strapping Young Lad.
So a year or two passed and Devin emerged again. He was looking healthier, he had shaved his head and he said he was going to release a 4 album series that was going to be like a 4 course dinner. And that the first album Ki, would be like an appetizer. And in many ways this is pretty much a great appetizer.
This album did receive some slight confusion whenever it was originally released, mainly due to it's vast difference to anything Devin has done before. In many ways it does harken back to some of Devin's earlier material and touches of his original sound, but it very much is a very different and rather different type of album.
The opener “Coast” has to be one of my personal favourites from Devin. A very beautiful song with some rather interesting guitar lines. The ambient sounding backgrounds are also very beautiful as well. A great vocal performance from Devin as well, showing a lot of diversity in his softer and operatic tones.
“Disruptr” is one of the more heavier moments on the album with some brilliant build ups throughout. This song and the next track are rather similar in nature, with Disruptr having a slightly more calmer effect. The next track has “Gato” has to be one of my personal favourites on the album and is definitely one of the more heavier songs. Also, any lyrics about cat people will always interest me. Devin's vocals in this track are pretty insane at times.
The ballads on the album “Terminal” and “Lady Helen” are also very interesting. With very minimal and quiet music behind them, it harkens back to some of the more prettier moments found on an album like “Terria.” Terminal in particular is done brilliantly live in “By A Thread.”
My favourite track on the album would have to be the longest composition “Heaven Send.” A rather relaxing start with a rather bluesy groove, it builds up with some brilliant distorted guitar grooves and an almost gang like chorus. The guitar solo in the song is also one of Devin's most interesting guitar solo, with great use of a whammy peddle.
One of the prettiest tracks on the album has to be “Winter.” A very beautiful song with a very large instrumental base, with the vocals being very simple. A beautiful and relaxing song.
One of the most oddest tracks has to be “Trainfire.” A song inspired by 50 and 60's rock and roll, it really gives off a rock a billy train feel to it. The ending is also very different with the song taking on a rather different and more interesting form with some beautiful guitar playing.
The title track is one of the more interesting tracks on the album. Again, another song that wouldn't go amiss on “Terria”. A very quiet start slowly building up to a multi layered contrapuntal musical masterpiece. Great production on this track with some spellbinding guitar playing from Devin.
The album closer, or the should be album closer “Quiet Riot” is a rather beautiful acoustic ending, taking melodies and lyrics from Slade's (or Quiet Riot's) “Cum On Feel The Noize.” A very beautiful ending to the album, along with the other close “Demon League.”
In conclusion, this album does get a lot of mixed opinions from people, but I personally I really like it. I do admit that it does have a lot of styles and is a lot less cohesive than most of his albums, but personally I find the album to go through a whole range of emotions due to Devin going through a whole load of emotions at the time. This is a mixed bag, but there is some really beautiful and powerful moments on this album. Something very different, but something very interesting.