Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Devin Townsend Project - Addicted (2009) 90/100.

Since rediscovering my intense passion for the wizardry of progressive metal prodigy and mad man Devin Townsend through a long time friend of mine, ‘Accelerated Evolution, I took it upon myself to enter into his wicked mind and explore the discography of most of his projects, including this one who’re simply known as Devin Townsend Project. It’s easy to get confused as to which record features under which project because he tends to stick closely to old band names when conjuring up new ideas through fresh projects. For example, there has previously been a band known as The Devin Townsend Band and now we have the Devin Townsend Project. Even when Devin has released records through bands with far different names, they’re still caught up in his obsession of naming projects after himself and whilst I would consider this rather pretentious if anyone else had come up with the idea, I cannot help but feel that it is justified the more I listen to his works. I’m fairly sure that every record he appears on, he is the center point of creativity and the aptly entitled ‘Addicted’ is no different.

Despite the fact that Devin obviously works with talented members of the metal industry, or even former members of it such as Anneke van Giersbergen, he still manages to outshine these consummate professionals by putting in a totally mind blowing performance at the heart of whatever project he is currently plugging to the audience. Initially my reaction to ‘Addicted’ was one of huge disappointment. I remember reading somewhere, though I don’t recall where specifically, this sophomore being billed as the next ‘Biomech’, a record I worship every day like it is my religious saviour. In fact, I believe it was even compared to ‘Biomech’ as if they were incredibly similar. Therefore, due to my consuming love and affection for Ocean Machine’s divine, life altering record, I truly believe that this could be the long awaited follow up to that record, something that I was praying long and hard for, for longer than the usual suffering period of 40 days and 40 nights. So, for those of you who have heard the surprising ‘Addicted’, you will understand where my disappointment spawns from because I do not find this record to be too much like ‘Biomech’.

Although I can hold my hands up and say that, yes, I do hear some similarities, there are also an awful lot of differences between the two, which is the intention on the part of Devin himself, as is suggested in the additional information which states, “The project comprises four albums of differing musical styles …”. As expected, Devin has taken a new direction, almost completely dismissing his past works and attempting to move on to greater pastures. I’ve listened to ‘Ki’, albeit not as much as I’ve spun ‘Addicted’, but it fails to deliver on almost every front. I’ve tried to wrap my head around it and cannot feel the same intense passion that I feel from Devin and co. here. Although I’m partial to soothing records, ‘Ki’ doesn’t stimulate my emotions, or senses like ‘Addicted’ thus, which truly has you hooked from the very first moment with the self-titled song as that infectious guitar bonds well with the sharp atmosphere, one which keeps us on our toes for the duration of the record. When the initial disappointment subsided, I was left with an unnerving craving. I wanted to listen to ‘Addicted’ over and over and over again. There is something completely fresh about Devin’s latest musical adventure, despite its familiar feel from time to time.

The bombastic production probably has a significant part to play in it, since it supplies the record with a fair amount of oomph! Surprisingly, the titles to each song even plays a part in making this as bouncy a record as humanly possible, making us want to get up from off our feet and onto whatever floor can be danced on. There is an accessibility to ‘Addicted’ that ‘Ki’ has a complete lack of. For me, it is a partial return to Devin’s progressive roots, instead of trying to hook the masses on a lacklustre ambient affair with minimal presence. Though I much prefer Devin to stick to his emotionally rousing clean vocals, his screams, which appear in abundance here, seem somehow more appealing than usual, though I am partial to them when the mood strikes. I suppose with the addition of The Gathering’s former vocalist, Anneke, Devin has to play a different role, since she can only supply sultry clean vocals, though she does have the capacity to handle a hardened metal record, which this mostly is, as she performed well on The Gathering’s ground breaking metal record ‘Mandylion’ all those years ago.

I do find myself resenting her presence here, since it does seem to mean that Devin is limited to harsher screams, which aren’t as emotive, though they do compliment the atmosphere on songs like ‘Universe In A Ball!’ due to the fiercely crushing instrumentation which features repetitious drums and guitars and a lightly textured ambiance, supplied by the likeable keyboards and synths, which generate a feeling of new grounds being explored. As I said earlier, the fact that each song is exclaimed in the title does seem to make a difference. It gives the record a base to work on, even if the individual listener has not heard a note played, simply because it makes you energetically announce songs. This isn’t a singular occurrence within the record either, as almost the entire work is energetic, upbeat and fun loving, like songs such as ‘Bend It Like A Bender!’ which features the graceful voice of Anneke alongside Devin’s, something I could never have dreamed of beforehand due the painful excitement and eventual disappointment of a showcase such as this ultimately never happening.

But, alas, it has! Not only that, but the two, multi-talented musicians work superbly together and form an alliance as strong as any vocal duet I’ve heard. Songs like ‘Supercrush’ are especially good at highlighting this feeling as Devin combines well with his fellow musicians to offer a wonderful atmosphere for Anneke to shine within. Their voices compliment each other so well and are both incredibly emotional singers, with the feeling that they put everything into their performances. Of course, Devin’s performance isn’t limited to vocals, though he does a stellar job there. He provides much of the electronic elements, which are dominant within the bombastic feel of the soundscapes and, as well as that crucial element, he helps out by putting in a shift on guitar, alongside Mark Cimino and Brian Waddell on bass, a man who deserves a lot of credit for remaining completely audible amongst the fighting performances of the other instruments. The bass, at times, does remind me of the sombre aspects of records like ‘Biomech’ and this feeling is felt tenfold when the songs take a shift towards a less robust sound, like the immense ‘The Way Home!’, which features slower and more expansive emotional sections, though the guitars do offer a furious outlet at points. The more and more I listen to ‘Addicted’, the more the title becomes worthy of its role. I expect that soon enough, having overplayed this record, I will wake up one morning with a hangover and the shakes. A fantastic sophomore to the misshapen ‘Ki’.

No comments:

Post a Comment