Gildan's Guide to Good Music
The world of music is a vast ocean of crap - join me on a voyage to the tiny isolated islands of excellence.
As the tagline not so subtly suggests, it's really easy to find terrible music - you have but to turn on your radio, and lo, bad music abounds. The good stuff though, well that's rarely quite so easy to find, and while some popular music actually deserves the accolades it receives, most excellent music languishes in comparative obscurity. And that's where I come in!
What I aim to accomplish with these articles is to showcase quality albums from bands you've never heard of, in the hopes that at least one of the comparative handful of people who actually read my rambling and
rampantly egotistical definitely quite humble reviews has found them useful.
This episode of the guide will focus on one of the various reasons I'm not especially resentful of Canada for inflicting Justin Bieber on the rest of us.
Devin Townsend Project
Musical Genre: Industrial/Techno/Metal
Running Time: 46 minutes
# of Tracks: 10
Particularly noteworthy songs: Supercrush!, Ih-Ah!, Numbered!
Devin Townsend: Crazy awesome, or awesomely crazy? The answer is really a bit of both - but I'm getting ahead of myself!
In case you're unfamiliar with the man, Townsend was the vocalist/guitarist/chief motive force behind Canadian extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad and The Devin Townsend Band, which played his very different solo album materials - a casual listener, upon learning both were the work of one man, might conclude he was bipolar.
Devin Townsend is bipolar. So that makes sense then.
The album I'm examining tonight is the 2nd album (out a planned 4) that he's released under the new moniker "Devin Townsend Project", after disbanding Strapping Young Lad and the Devin Townsend Band and undergoing a self-imposed hiatus from the music industry in 2007. While the first of his new albums, Ki, was relatively tranquil and contemplative, Addicted is both much heavier and more 'commercial' fare, falling more on the Strapping Young Lad side of his musical spectrum, albeit the more generally accessible examples from that discography, as there's a much greater melodic focus.
At the time I bought this album, I was not a Devin Townsend fan by any stretch of the imagination, so I have two things to thank for my introduction to it:
1. It was on sale for a ridiculous price (yay).Now Anneke is hardly a household name for most, but as an avid fan of The Gathering and Ayreon (she's been a guest vocalist on several albums), that instantly caught my eye, and I'm very glad it did, because this album is awesome. Anneke contributes varying amounts of vocals to every track, whether as backing vocals, solo-verse/choruses, or duets with Townsend, and she handles track 5 (Hyperdrive!, a cover of an earlier Townsend song from Ziltoid The Omniscient) almost entirely on her own; her clear sweet voice contrasts/complements Townsend's snarls/shouts/not-really-sure-how-he-sings-like-that/soulful crooning quite nicely. Listening to them singing together, it's easy to imagine they'd been doing that for years, though this is in fact their first collaboration.
2. The review I glanced at mentioned it had Anneke Van Giersbergen on it.
The music, apart from the odd minimalistic section here or there, tends to be a densely packed 'wall of sound', with multiple harmonies and counterpoints layered onto the otherwise straightforward and simple melodies - rarely is there ever just one or two things going on at once. There is also a heavy emphasis on synthesizers and reverb effects on most tracks - acoustic music this is not, heh. Townsend described the songs on this album as "heavy but danceable", and it's a particularly apt description for them.
If my mentions of "extreme metal" and "screaming" earlier have raised musical red flags for you, worry not! This is nothing like the typical extreme metal fare wherein 'vocalists' growl incoherently, scream painfully, or otherwise assault your ears for no damn good reason - as someone who only tolerates harsh vocals if the rest of the composition is awesome enough to balance them out, I'd hardly be recommending this if it was typical of the harsher end of Industrial Metal. The vocal approach I couldn't quite describe earlier is really a mixture of shouting, screaming, and singing all at once, and is both completely intelligible and (most importantly) musical - also it's only ever really prominent on the first two tracks (with either Anneke or his own clean singing acting as a counterpoint).
Okay, enough of my yammering on, here's my 3 favorite tracks from the album so you can listen to it for yourself.
Unlike the last album I looked at in this guide, I don't really expect Addicted to be universally well-received - Townsend doesn't really write music like that, you're either going to love it or hate it. If your musical sensibilities align with my own and yet you were somehow unaware of this until now, you're welcome! Everyone else can go write their own guide to good music if they don't like what I
think know is awesome, heh.
Well, that wraps up another entry in the ongoing guide to music that is the inverse of bad - feel free to bombard me with suggestions for what to 'review' next, so I can ignore them and just do whatever the hell I was going to anyways. Or not, I'm not picky!
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