on 6 November 2009
Devin Townsend is a man very much at the height of his powers, if Addicted is anything to go by. The second in a planned quadrilogy of albums he's working on at the moment, previews indicate an extremely strong set of arguably his best songs, and his voice - never better than on this album - is brilliantly contrasted by the wonderful Anneke van Giersbergen, adding extra dimensions to his trademark layered vocal "wall of sound" that work amazingly well.
The production on the album delivers a sound which is bigger (and for Townsend, this is saying something), punchier, airier and tighter all at once. There's a genuine majesty in tracks like "Numbers" and the truly jaw-dropping "Supercrush!"
It's not even out yet, and I'm putting Addicted right at the top of my list of favourite albums of all time. We might have flippantly labeled Devin Townsend a genius before, but in my opinion, Addicted really is genius. Seriously.
If we lived in a musical meritocracy, this album would sell more copies than The Joshua Tree and Brothers In Arms combined. As it is, I'm so looking forward to getting my hands on the CD and owning a little piece of rock and metal history.
on 20 January 2010
I've been interested Devin's work since the insanely heavy Neo-Thrash of SYL's 'Alien', but for some reason, this album escaped my radar. 'Addicted' could be a close relative of that album. It's very loud, and has the same claustophobically-heavy processed sound. Yet one thing makes this stand head and shoulders above: the amazing Anneke Van Giersbergen .
I only found out by perusing Amazon that the great Anneke had guested on this. Needless to say, I didn't even need to hear any previews - I ordered it immediately.
Her voice, as you should know, if you have been paying attention to the Euro metal scene over the last ten years, is as crystalline and pure as it ever was, and seems to sit comfortably above all of Devin's noise. Nothing can taint it.
Therefore it's a shame that it only truly dominates the middle part of the album. Were this FULL of Anneke tracks, 'Addicted' would have been a contender for 'greatest female-fronted metal album ever'.
That said, it is still worth buying, as the whole thing is a brilliant, and eccentric, exercise in melodic, progressive metal. But let's hope Devin and Anneke go the whole hog and form a band, because together, they are just TOO good.
on 9 February 2010
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'.
Anneke's performances of Hyperdrive with her band, Agua de Annique, are I guess what led me to this album by Devin Townsend Project, and I've got to say it's rather compulsive. Ten tracks that flow into one another, metal guitars and drums, keyboards and electronic effects, voices weaving in and out of the instrumental juggernaut. Townsend's voice ranges far and wide, yelling one minute and crooning the next, the choices dictated by the emotional content I guess, even if I haven't detected a thematic progression yet. I'd definitely say it's the kind of album you listen to in its entirety, rather than dip into for a few choice trax. Party Metal, I'd call it (is that a thing?); new classification or not, I love it.
What makes this album priceless is how Anneke's extensive, soaring vocal contribution serves to catapult the listener back to her early albums with The Gathering, allied as it is with DTP's urgent guitars. I was beginning to yearn for that sound even when I first saw them at the turn of the century, The Gathering's identity already metamorphosing into trip-rock, their twin-guitar prog-metal past already eclipsed. Hearing Addicted, different though it is in matters of temperament, makes me realise how much I and I'm sure many more Gathering fans pine for those heady years of the late nineties.
Anyway, Anneke sings lead, as a duet with Townsend and also symphonic backing vocals right across the album and the overall tone is bullish but affirmative, like fighting the good fight.
As a total effect, Addicted is going to live up to its name.
on 3 May 2010
I have been a huge fan of Dev music since the day I saw Krusher interview him on Noisy Mother's before the release of 'Heavy as a really heavy thing' by SYL. I then had the pleasant suprise of discovering his work on Vai's 'Sex & religion'.
This guy obviously had talent, and found a way to be creative down multiple avenues. SYL released the anger with stunning results, and his solo efforts such as 'Ocean Machines' and 'Infinity' offered a more controlled style which showcased his more melodic (but still heavy) side. Then came 'Terria' which is one of the only albums which has that humbling effect and can reduce a grown man to tears (deep peace). Think of the way Gilmour's solo in Comfortably numb sends shivers down your spine!
Before I sound too much up Dev's butt, I did wonder if he had past his best after that. SYL for me tried too hard after the excellent self titled 'SYL' and it all got a bit samey, probably why they have disbanded now. Also Dev's next few solo works had the same 'similar but not quite hitting the spot' feel to them. 'Accelerated Evolution' being the main culprit there with 'Synchestra' a massive improvement. (Ziltoid is not worth a mention! Sorry Dev)
Anyway, enough of my proverbial B.S. - After a break Dev came up with the idea of a quadrilogy of music, each with a different sound and musicians. First he gave us 'Ki'. A rocky, Jazzy album which is all about the musicianship. A very different sound for Dev and some great experamentation.
Secondly we have 'Addicted'. Like the title says 'WOW'!!!!!
This CD seriously amazed me from the first listen and just gets better and better from there. It is catchy, fun, very heavy, and the tracks blend together so well. Don't let yourself be kidded into thinking this is a pop album by some of the reviews - it is far from it! The album is still Devy and still has his trademark heavy sound with a wall of soundscapes behind it creating an amazingly atmospheric and enjoyable album. We also have the addition of Anneke van Giersbergen (ex The Gathering). I have to admit I don't really go for female singers in rock (Nothing sexist but just a personal preference) but my god this girl can sing!!! Not only that she really makes this album come alive. There are only a handful of tracks featuring her talents but they really stand out and leave you begging for more.
Thanks Dev, this album is fantastic and once again you prove yourself to be right up there with the best. I know you like to progress with your music and always look for new ideas, but if you could record another CD with Anneke in this vein I would seriously appreciate it!!!!
10/10 bloody brilliant.