Devin Townsend

Picture of Devin Townsend


Devin Townsend - Infinity ©1998 HevyDevy Records
1. Truth
2. Christeen
3. Bad Devil
4. War
5. Soul Driven
6. Ants
7. Colonial Boy
8. Dynamics
9. Unity
10. Noisy Pink Bubbles

Aside from Mr. Devin Townsend's proclivity to appear naked on album covers, the very talented Canadian musician has done nothing but show an immense amount of musical talent and ability in his various projects. His most familiar project, Strapping Young Lad, is a portrait of irrational emotions set to a bombastic musical landscape while Ocean Machine was an ususual attempt to capture the music the oceans themselves might make were they given a couple guitars and a a microphone. Townsend's proper solo release, Infinity is not infinitely different than the other two ventures, which is reassuring as it offers exactly the same amount of allure as the others.

Since the same man writes and creates the music and vision for the various projects, it is no suprise that Infinity has that familiar Devy crush and symphonic devourment of the ears. However, Infinity is a bit more honed and sheds a bit of the angst for a more introspective look into the artist's heart. Townsend's vocals range from very straightforward and melodic, such as the catchy "Christeen" to painfully torn as on "Soul Driven". But his vocals are only part of the picture as the music throughout goes through a variety of stages, all building towards the climax on "Unity". (Yes, "Noise Pink Bubbles" is, for all intents and purposes, a "hidden" track that is an aside from the crux of the album.) "Truth" begins the album with an affirmation of music and chants of "hallelujah" before segueing into "Christeen". The next two tracks, "Bad Devil" and "War", are surprising in their ability to rock and boogie down. "Bad Devil" is nearly a heavy metal gospel track and is guaranteed to shake your little booty. The midsection of the album becomes a lot more convoluted, dense and troubled. As individual songs they would not hold up but in the scheme of how the songs work as a cohesive whole, they're very important to how the emotions are wrenched by Infinity. As with Ocean Machine's Biomech, the album moves through a variety of stages before reaching the final resolution on "Unity". And as stated before, the actual closer on the album is "Noisy Pink Bubbles", which doesn't fit the overall big picture, but ends up closing things out on a great note.

Infinity is the sort of record that will initially capture you with its more instantly accessible moments at the beginning of the record and if you allow it to play as a whole, its magic becomes insurmountable. Ultimately fulfilling albums such as Infinity are quite difficult to come by, so anyone who is looking for a meaningful and extremely well conceived and executed record best be looking for a copy of this.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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Devin Townsend - Physicist ©2000 HevyDevy Records
1. Namaste
2. Victim
3. Material
4. Kingdom
5. Death
6. Devoid
7. The Complex
8. Irish Maiden
9. Jupiter
10. Planet Rain

It would seem that after several amazing albums from Vancouver's most prolific artist that an eventual easing up on the reins would finally take place. From Ocean Machine to his solo release Infinity to Strapping Young Lad, it seemed Devin Townsend was nearly unstoppable, but a bout with a nervous breakdown and possibly just the need to put out an "easy" album have led to Physicist, which is the first Townsend album that has not blown me away.

Physicist is described by Townsend himself as "Strapping Young Lad Lite" and he is not kidding. If you shred away the layers of anger, angst and general irrational hatred from SYL, Physicist is the ensuing result. Unfortunatey, that sort of sound may in fact need that sort of emotional quality to really make it work. Sonically speaking, Physicist boasts that same layered, symphonic speed metal sound Townsend has essentially patented and nearly perfected and the performances from his band are all uniformly excellent. But sadly, after the first three blazing songs, there is a general sense of letdown and purposeless music. "Lite" may indeed be the best way to describe it. Townsend's Infinity worked because he threw an amazing amount of emotion into it (and ultimately that exacted revenge upon him) but Physicist lacks that. Naturally I don't expect the man to whip himself into a nervous breakdown to make an album that appeals to me, but hopefully next time there will be more of an impetus to the music. Regardless, songs like "Namaste" and "Material", with its clever allusion to a certain sci-fi movie's theme song, are still worth hearing. Devin Townsend may have released his most pedestrian album to date, but Physicist simply has higher standards to live up to than other albums currently being released. Needless to say you're still better off listening to Devin Townsend's most bland music than Kittie's best output.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2000

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Devin Townsend - Terria ©2001 HevyDevy Records
1. Olives
2. Mountain
3. Earth Day
4. Deep Peace
5. Canada
6. Down And Under
7. The Fluke
8. Nobody's Here
9. Tiny Tears
10. Stagnant

When the early moments of your musical career have you instantly annointed a musical genius by both your fans and critics alike, it's only inevitable that many of your later efforts will have the disservice of having incredibly high standards to live up to. In the case of Devin Townsend, this is the constant struggle whenever he records new music. Both Infinity and his Ocean Machine project, with their Biomech release, have elevated Townsend to a lofty status in the cult world. Unfortunately, his last project, 2000's Physicist, sounded like Strapping Young Lad "lite", and made a few people wonder if he was running on empty. The album sounded as though it was Townsend simply wishing to make a record without the intense complexity that normally is the hallmark of his musicianship and outstanding studiowork. Apparently Physicist exorcised out whatever stagnation might have been within Townsend as his new work, Terria, is a return to the vast quagmire of musical depth of his past.

Essentially, Terria falls in line most closely with Ocean Machine's Biomech. Townsend has claimed in interview that while Ocean Machine was about water, Terria is about the earth. The production signature of Townsend is plastered all over this record, creating his infamous wall of dense but enveloping sound. For fans of Strapping Young Lad, Townsend does not descend into the depths of raw anger or hatred at any point. Rather, this album is considerably more contemplative and introspective. Moreover, the sweeping nature of the music requires multiple listens before a listener will really get a complete grasp of where the music is going. The songs are quite lengthy in general and often contain a classical sense of movement and epic width and breadth. Townsend summons a wealth of great songwriting skill to develop these songs into emotionally charged pieces. Nothing has been spared in detail, as he adds in an entire cavalry of instrumentation. Generally the music relies on guitar parts and occasional keyboards and piano, yet it constantly feels like there's an entire army of musicians making the record.

Terria is certainly not as immediate as the snapshot of manic energy that is Infinity. This is a record that will require active attention from the listener if he or she wishes to experience it in depth and detail. The album is actually a very good follow up to the Biomech record, even though it takes considerably more time to digest than the Ocean Machine effort. Needless to say, Townsend has finally challenged himself again and come out with one of the more intriguing records for 2001.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2001

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