Showing posts with label devin townsend. Show all posts
Showing posts with label devin townsend. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

video review: 'empath' by devin townsend

And here we go - a little late here, I understand, but still a really damn good album, and fascinating enough to be worth the time.

Next up, continuing through my list of projects I should have covered before...

album review: 'empath' by devin townsend

So I'll be very blunt here: I've long ago stopped having any expectations for a Devin Townsend album. I can't know how it'll sound or even what genre it'll be as he'll flit between a half dozen different subgenres or even step out of metal entirely for ambient music or pop or even country! All I know is that the tones will be polished to a mirror sheen, there'll be scattered moments of indulgence, and while he'll bring in guest stars, there's no real clue how much they will be emphasized, especially if some of the tightness goes out the window. And to be very blunt, while I got a lot of backlash to my harsh review of his last album Transcendence in the Devin Townsend Project, going back three years later I don't think I'm all that wrong, especially in comparison with the other standouts with that group.

But fine, this is a brand new solo album from him - and when I say solo, I mean bringing together many of the same guest stars that he's been consistently working with, such as Anneke Van Giersbergen and Che Aimee Dorval, along with a few surprises like legendary guitarist Steve Vai and even Chad Kroeger of Nickelback! Apparently that was a result of Townsend mashing all of his disparate influences into one project, which to me suggests a glorious mess that at least might feel more dynamic than Transcendence, but okay - what did we find on Empath?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

video review: 'transcendence' by the devin townsend project

Man, really wished I liked this one more. Sadly, it just did not click with me - thin, underwritten, I'm not sure what it was, but it just didn't work all the way through.

Next up, though... Against Me! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

album review: 'transcendence' by the devin townsend project

So if I'm being very honest with myself, I haven't really covered as much metal this year as I was hoping. And really, it's a case of just getting overloaded - I've had a busy year both at work and in my persona life, through all of that on average I'm putting out more videos than ever, and I'm still falling behind... although yes, I will admit there were a few cases where I dug into metal records and just didn't have enough material to make a full or informed review. Well, throughout late September and October there are a lot of metal records that have been on my anticipated list all year, and it's about damn time I dig in - don't worry, I'll be covering other genres too, but it's time for some much overdue catching up.

So let's start with an act that I've consistently liked for years now: The Devin Townsend Project. Ever since the titular frontman split off the group from projects under just his name, they've delivered a fair few records of high concept music that isn't afraid to push genre to its limit while still delivering insightful, eccentric, and yet insanely catchy music. Now the last time I covered him was in 2014, where I reviewed three of his projects - the sequel to his landmark Ziltoid The Omniscient, the country-ambient crossover masterpiece Casualties of Cool, and Z²: Sky Blue, the last of which I'd argue was a real hidden gem. The song 'Silent Majority' made my year-end list of my favourite songs but in retrospect the entire album could have had a shot at my top records of 2014 - it's grown on me that much. And as such, outside of my overloaded schedule I had no excuse not to dig into his newest Devin Townsend Project record Transcendence, where if you looked at the liner notes seemed to be bringing together a richer cast than I had expected. Anneke Van Giersbergen was of course on board, but so was Che Aimee Dorval from Casualties of Cool - awesome - and for the first time since the era of Strapping Young Lad Devin Townsend had brought in another producer. This would be Adam "Nolly" Getgood of Periphery, another band that I may have passed over earlier this year mostly because I didn't want to have the 'djent' conversation. But with the possibility that said sounds might creep into Devin Townsend's production, which might fly in contrast to his more melodic compositional style... we're getting off-topic, how's Transcendence?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

video review: 'casualties of cool' by casualties of cool (RETRO REVIEW)

Holy shit, this album was fantastic. Seriously, I wish I could have gotten to this a few months ago, this is amazing.

Next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN, hopefully dropping tomorrow, so stay tuned!

album review: 'casualties of cool' by casualties of cool (RETRO REVIEW)

There are some records that the second you hear about them you just know on some level they're going to work - or at least they should. Maybe it's the people behind it, the concept, the genre fusion, you just have the feeling in your gut that this is going to kick all amounts of ass.

And really, the fact that I'm only getting to this now is more than a little embarrassing. A side project that Canadian extreme metal artist Devin Townsend had long dreamed about, the beginnings of Casualties of Cool started in 2010 as a pairing between himself and Che Aimee Dorval, a spacey country/blues/ambient blend that promised one of Townsend's most ambitious stories yet. And keep in mind this is the guy who wrote Ziltoid The Omniscient, a space opera that featured a dimension bending alien searching for the meaning of existence and the perfect cup of coffee. In other words, I had to make time to hear this album, half because it's Devin Townsend and half because I'm still one of the few critics on YouTube who really talks about country music in any capacity, and this looked to be right up my alley. 

So why did it take me so long to get here? Honestly, this is a case of me completely forgetting about this album when it dropped and struggling to find time to cover it. And part of it was beyond some scattered albums, I still hadn't taken the time to delve deeper into Devin Townsend's entire discography. But now that I've had the pleasure of doing that and since I've already covered Devin Townsend projects twice this year, why not make it three with Casualties of Cool? So I finally took the time to dive into this self-titled album - what did we get here?

Friday, November 7, 2014

video review: 'z²: dark matters' by the devin townsend project

God, I wish this was better. It's still a good record, to be sure, but it just didn't quite land with me. Ah well, it happens.

Next up, I need time to get through my backlog of albums before I start the one of the heavier weeks of the year. Foo Fighters, Big KRIT, Azealia Banks, and more, so stay tuned!

album review: 'z²: dark matters' by the devin townsend project

And now we come to the second round of our Devin Townsend discussion, of the second disc and the one that definitely gripped more of the fans coming from Ziltoid The Omniscient. It was the sequel that so many of them had been asking for, the glorious return of Ziltoid and the madcap space insanity that had defined that album.

And yet, if I'm being completely honest, the more I thought about it the more I wasn't sure a sequel to that 2007 record was a great idea. Sure, there was undoubtedly more space to be tapped in the gloriously epic and epically silly saga of Ziltoid, but that album also ended in a way that didn't exactly leave itself open for sequels in the same way. It's similar to the sense of annoyance I had when I saw Disney's live action Alice In Wonderland directed by Tim Burton that actually turned out to be a sequel, couldn't be bothered to call itself Through The Looking Glass, and was a total piece of shit. Not spoiling anything, but when you transform what was designed as a pure flight of fantasy or madness into something grounded in a more concrete reality - you run the risk of breaking the joke.

And it seemed like Devin Townsend was running into problems too. A followup to Ziltoid was announced in 2009, and yet it took him five years to fully get the project to coalesce. He utilized the character on a satirical radio show in 2013 and bandied around the idea of a visual project, but this year he finally managed to pull things together for , and to placate the label he had to bundle it with a Devin Townsend Project album that actually managed to be pretty damn awesome. And even despite my serious misgivings going into this record, I have to admit I was still pretty damn excited for a new Ziltoid adventure - did we get it?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

video review: 'z²: sky blue' by the devin townsend project

Part one was glorious, so let's see how part two pans out - stay tuned!

album review: 'z²: sky blue' by the devin townsend project

I've mentioned in the past that there are certain musical acts that have an insane work ethic, acts that will pump out distinctive, potent material that somehow manages to maintain a standard of real quality. Now from my observations, these acts tend to fall into two distinctive camps: acts that have a formula that allows them to subtly augment it with each release; and acts that simply have so many ideas that they have to let them all explode forth on project after project, with some of the ideas inspired genius, some merely inspired, and some that inspire headaches for all involved. In other words, there's a little less consistency in their output. And no, I'm not talking about Lil Wayne and his album/mixtape releases, today I'm going to talk about one of the more eclectic figures in metal, a Canadian musician who already dropped a country and blues flavoured record earlier this year and now has a full double album of progressive and extreme metal.

Yes, we're talking about Devin Townsend, formerly of the extreme metal act Strapping Young Lad and the frontman of the Devin Townsend project. He's a musician with a gift for versatility, a ton of explosive presence, and sheer oddball weirdness in his lyrics that can send many of his projects spiraling into madness, or at least be difficult to take them somewhat seriously. And to be fair, I get the feeling that Townsend recognizes this to some extent, as he's made some truly hilarious metal records that still manage to kick ass. I was first introduced to him through his 2007 album Ziltoid The Omniscient, a record about a power-mad galactic overlord searching for the universe for the perfect cup of coffee and with an ending twist that really shouldn't be as much of a fun surprise as it is. 

Now in terms of pure Devin Townsend albums, it was his last until now, but that didn't mean he wasn't active. Instead, after quitting booze and drugs, he embarked on the Devin Townsend Project, a series of five albums that showcased five different sides of Townsend's experimentation to varied amounts of success, the last being the more pop- and hard rock-flavoured Epicloud in 2012. So when I heard that he was coming back with a double album this year, a sequel to Ziltoid The Omniscient, I honestly didn't have the slightest clue what was coming. So I took several deep breaths and plunged in - what did I get?