Devin Townsend is a genius. I don't need to say anymore. But is he going mad?
After a 5 album string which pretty much showed no weakness, Devin pretty much did whatever he wanted and received a lot of success. But this was backed by record companies who oddly enough had enough faith in his music. So on this album, why did Devin turn his back on financial backing? To be honest, it makes perfect sense.
Devin is a modern music cult hero. Taking secret audiences around the world he has been able to sell out a lot of big gigs and festivals. But, having strayed away from his metal roots and gone for a rather odd country and blues rock sound, this may have alienated fans, or as he stated himself “people who liked Epicloud are gonna be pissed.” So did it work?
Ha. Did it work? Let's just say Devin became a rich man in only a short amount of days. Now, being the artist he is, a good amount of money is funding his next project, the ever awaiting sequel to “Ziltoid The Omniscient”, but if their ever was a reaction from fans to show their love, this surely is.
Now lets get down to the meat of the album and that is the music. Now this isn't too much of a dramatic change for Devin musically, in fact Devin experimented with some of this older rock and blues sound on “Ki”, but decided to flesh it more out. The album is also a daring leap for Devin because this isn't a solo album. In fact the album is a collaboration with singer songwriter Ché Aimee Dorval who did vocals before on “Ki.” As much as I love Devin's songwriting I always found a lack of cohesion in his stuff at times, and I think Ché's vocals, songwriting and lyrics really fleshed out Devin's experimental songwriting style. The only negative I can have with this album is that it is so different musically that you have to kind of getting used to it and I think that this is an album that needs a few listens before you can really love it. I can't see anyone hating this album though.
Opener “Daddy” is a brilliant introduction to the album. Taking the blues rock sound and adding a lot of Devin's personal quirks, the song soon turns into a sonic hailstorm of sound. The same can be said with “Mountaintop” which continues the blues sound and mixes with some rather melancholic melodies, especially with Ché's vocals.
My favorite song on this album would have to be “Flight.” A very simple idea with some beautiful melodies and a few interesting changes throughout, the song is incredibly beautiful. Lyrically the song deals with suicide and is one of the best penned lyrics about the subject. A beautiful piece of music and definitely up there with some of my all time favorite tracks of all time.
A very interesting track can be seen in the form of “Moon.” Starting off very spacey and with a lot of limited space, the song then explodes into a mix of groaning vocals and some beautiful saxophone playing.
One of the albums strongest tracks has to be “Bones.” Lyrically the song is one of the most relating to the concept, with some very interesting words and images being presented. The music of the song adopts a rather baroque pop feeling and it works incredibly well, especially with Ché's vocals.
One of the oddest tracks on the album would have to be “Deathscope.” Supposed to be the angry side of the protagonist, the song shows off some of Devin's metal material from the past and the dynamic vocals he has.
The album closer “The Bridge” is very reminiscent to the track “Ki” for me. Starting off slow and calm before building up to a massive climax and pays off very well. Experimenting with choirs and flutes, the song is a very experimental move for Devin's work. Great ending to the album (not including “Pure” which is a bit silly and long).
Overall, this album impressed me and confused me. It confused me because I don't know whether I should love it or like it. At the moment I'm on the cusp of loving it. Devin has really been able to create something very unique in his catalogue and really step out of his comfort zone for this one.
Genres: Blues Rock, Country, Alternative Country, Country Rock, Ambient, Progressive Rock, Baroque Pop, Experimental Rock, Post Rock, Experimental Metal
Country of origin: Canada
Year of release: 2014