I’m not a fan of any band or musician. I’ve been hanging around musicians for twenty years and I know they’re all mortals. Some of them are really talented and gifted, though.
Devin Townsend is one of truly talented musicians. I bumped into his music in 1993 when I saw the music video for “In My Dreams with You” by Steve Vai. And I thought “wow, who is this guy, he can sing!” Years went by and I saw a music video for “Detox” by Strapping Young Lad. Must have been 1997 or something? It was an ok song, nothing special and it took me a while to realize it was Devin’s band.
Strapping Young Lad was an intensive band, which is why it took a long time for me to get into them. I listened to their music as well as Devin’s solo stuff. And his music slowly grew upon me. Well, it happens, it took me years to get into Opeth and Porcupine Tree, too.
S.Y.L. disbanded years ago. I suppose it became too big a thing for Devin to handle. I’m not sure. But the most important thing is that he still makes music. And as a matter of fact, he is more successful for ever.
Anyway, Devin has another album out. If the SYL albums are included, this is his twentieth album (!). But what is Epicloud like? Well, this is the first impression I got before the album was officially released. An unofficial music video for “Lucky Animals”.
It was a funny video the first time. But then it just become annoying. (I don’t mind, though…) Too bad the song is not so much better either. It is catchy, that I can tell you, but also slightly annoying. Not bad but nothing special either. “There has to be better songs on this album” I thought. And I was right.
Epicloud is not an intensive album as such. It is heavy at times but not extreme. And it’s not Ziltoid the Omniscient part 2 (it will be released in a year or two, perhaps).. Its atmosphere is quite close to the one on Ocean Machine: Biomech and Addicted. Which is definitely a good thing because Devin has already released a bunch of great extreme and intensive albums. I suppose this relaxed atmosphere has something to do with his personal life. Devin has had some problems, he has faced his demons and is now cool with them.
Devin Townsend – 2012.08.17 (Photo credit: Stephen Dyrgas)
What about the songs?
The album starts with Effervescent!, an a cappella song that is sort of a combination of a big gospel song and a song from a musical. A nice way to start an album.
Then comes True North. Enter Anneke van Giersbergen, one of my favourite female vocalists ever. There are a lot of great Dutch singers but no-one compares to Anneke! The song grows and becomes one of the best songs on the albums. A nice chorus + the pop metal feeling (but not too pop metal) = a feel-good song.
Third song. Lucky Animals. Yes, animals are lucky and I have times when I like this song but not always. Perhaps it’s the weird lyrics that don’t fit the song?
English: Devin Townsend perfoming at Tuska Metal Fest in Finland 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Liberation. Another great relaxed metal song with an amazing chorus. Devin usually knows how to write choruses and this one hits the spot. A big choir, nice guitar riffs and a nice atmosphere.
Where We Belong. On the Devin scale, I would call this a ballad. A power ballad. A 3/4 power ballad, technically a waltz (if arranged a bit differently) :D. A nice interlude that gives some time to breathe and to prepare for another set of heavier songs.
Save Our Now. Now, this could be a hit on most radio stations that play rock and metal. In my opinion, this is song is a bit shallow and slightly annoying. But it is a hit song anyway.
Kingdom. An old song from the Physicist album (2000). The original version is good but this is even better. It was an excellent choice to re-record this one.
Song #8. Divine. An acoustic, almost fragile interlude. Perhaps the arrangement could have been expanded a bit. There’s nothing wrong with the actual song, anyway.
Grace. A big song, perhaps the most difficult song on the album. Could be much worse without Anneke. This song needs more time.
Devin Townsend Project (Photo credit: mvisser)
More! Wow. More energy, more speed. For some reason, this song reminds me of Ziltoid the Omniscient. In the end, this is _the_ song on this for me. The final guitar riff just blows my mind every time.
Lessons. This is a real interlude as it only lasts for a minute. Next!
Hold On. Another power ballad. Different from Where We Belong. Not bad but not the best song on the album.
Finally, Angel. Another big song, another difficult song. Quite ok. And the album ends just like it begins: with a gospel choir.
As a whole, the album is definitely on my top 5 Devin list, or even on my top 3 list. There are some things on the album that make it imperfect, though. Firstly, the lyrics. They could be… Hmm, different? It’s like the lyrics don’t always go along with the music, if you know what I mean? Secondly, this album is 100% Devin, there are hardly any surprises, which is surprising as such.
But this is a great album anyway. And what makes me glad is the glad that it has appeared on the official Finnish album charts, at #8, which is amazing. Go Devin go and keep up the excellent work! (And please come back to Oulu one day, we miss you!)