The Devin Townsend Band

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Accelerated Evolution

The Devin Townsend Band - Accelerated Evolution ©2003 InsideOut Music
CD one:
1. Depth Charge
2. Storm
3. Random Analysis
4. Deadhead
5. Suicide
6. Traveller
7. Away
8. Sunday Afternoon
9. Slow Me Down
CD two:
1. Locate
2. Echo
3. Assignable

The one constant about Devin Townsend is that he's always changing. Having already released an album this year as Strapping Young Lad, Townsend and his new, cleverly titled band have released their own debut, thus swamping his loyal fans with more music than they can shake a guitar hero at. The Strapping Young Lad album, unfortunately, has met with only lukewarm reviews and as a result, some fans might be hesistant to see what else Devin Townsend has been brewing up.

Accelerated Evolution, the first album by The Devin Townsend Band (as opposed to being a solo release) is something that should very easily appeal to fans of Ocean Machine and Townsend's Terria album from 2001. Rather than color and punctuate the music with layers of aggression and anger, the band spends the course of the album exploring moodier realms through slower passages and meanderings. Much like Terria, the listener is taken though a variety of moods thoughout the album. It is the sort of release that requires more than a couple listens to really quite grasp what Townsend has in mind. There is a sense of a unifying concept to Accelerated Evolution, partially because all the tracks sound dependent on one another to exist. Another aspect for listeners to consider is just how patient they wish to be in allowing the music to develop and grow over the course of several listens. Personally, this album didn't quite gel with me until I listened to it under a variety of conditions, with a listen during a car ride through the mountains acting as a catalyst. Accelerated Evolution lacks the ability to initially leap out and throttle a listener by the throat, but dedication reaps bigger rewards.

In the grand scale of Townsend projects, this new Devin Townsend Band seems as though they are poised to create very intriguing music in the future. I hesitate to call this as magnificent as Ocean Machine and definitely not as wild as Infinity but for those fans who prefer the more introspective, challenging topography of Terria, this is a must have.

A limited edition release also includes a bonus CD featuring Devin playing mild James Plotkin-like ambient guitar treatments over a groovy electronic musical base. While different than anything else he's done, it is equally enjoyable to hear. The three tracks are obviously something done on the side, but it shows the man's incredible talent at work in yet another area. If you're the type of fan who visits Devin's website twice a week, are on his mailing list and drool at the mere mention of Biomech, be sure to seek out the limited edition. You'll be glad you did.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2003

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Synchestra

The Devin Townsend Band - Synchestra ©2006 InsideOut Music
1. Let It Roll
2. Hypergeek
3. Triumph
4. The Baby Song
5. Vampolka
6. Vampira
7. Mental Tan
8. Gaia
9. Pixillate
10. Judgement
11. A Simple Lullaby
12. Sunset
13. Notes From Africa
14. Sunshine & Happiness

When you have as many projects going as Devin Townsend, there is always the risk of oversaturation. And let's be brutally frank: Devin Townsend, despite his enormous creative muscle, is lingering awfully close to that fine line.

Devin Townsend, who originally got his start in music as Steve Vai's regimented frontman for Sex and Religion, has been churning out albums under various identities for over a decade. We've seen excellent releases under Ocean Machine, Strapping Young Lad, his own name and now, the Devin Townsend Band. Strapping Young Lad, which initially seemed to be put to bed in the late 90s, is the most aggressive of all his acts while the Devin Townsend Band falls under a more brooding, contemplative form of metal. The unfortunate potential downfall is that Townsend may be spreading himself a little too thin these days. Both SYL and Alien are essentially uninteresting after initial listens. The Devin Townsend band's last album, Accelerated Evolution, is pretty good and does grow on you after multiple listens, but it's a trip that takes some arduous dedication.

Synchestra is the latest entry for the Devin Townsend Band. Unlike some of Townsend's earlier records (Infinity, in particular), nothing on Synchestra ever leaps out to grab the listener's attention. The layered, dense sound of the band has some sonic appeal, if you're a record producer, but Townsend's sense of catchiness and intrigue is not in plain abundance. There are segments, such as "Vampolka", that sidestep Devin Townsend paradigms (face it, you know by now what a Devin Townsend project will sound like), but it comes across as aside, as if Townsend realized, "Oh, I'd better throw in a wacky bridge to make people think I'm still a musical mad genius". Synchestra has the tendency to drag on, causing me to want to put something else on to revitalize my interest in music in general.

No one can claim Devin Townsend does not work as hard as anyone else in music. His sheer prolific ability to write and record new albums is impressive. Unfortunately, there hasn't been the same spark and delight with his newer works that initially fueled my interest in all things Devy. Perhaps this is a mild career lull that will be forgotten in the near future.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2006

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