I’ll admit, I’ve never really gotten to deep into the world of Devin Townsend. I do have a couple Strapping Young Lad albums in my collection(City and The New Black ripped from a friends CD) and I’ve listened to them and enjoyed them, but for some reason they never really struck me and sit collecting dust in my music collection. I’ve caught a few videos from Devin’s other projects and enjoyed them also, but for whatever reason I never followed up on my enjoyment of a single or video. Then when I caught wind of Devin’s new project, aptly titled The Devin Townsend Project, he raised my interest in it with the concept of the project. He was going to release four albums with different moods, styles, and personalities all fueled by his new found sobriety. It wasn’t so much the concept that really grabbed me, but it was more his enthusiasm and passion for the project. So, what do I do? Well, instead of purchasing the first two albums in the project(Ki and Addicted), which were quite positively received, I passed up, don’t know why. Then within the weeks of me writing this, the next two albums were released, unfortunately on the same day as the new Symphony X and Rhapsody of Fire. So, I opted to pick up the latter two albums on that day. While surfing around the internet I came across a review of the new pair of albums and something caught me about it and it went onto the “I really need to suck it up and check out these albums list”. What caught me was on the third part(Deconstruction) of the album series was that there is a number of guest vocal spots by some vocalists that I am very familiar with and highly enjoy their respective bands. The other thing, the thing that sold me was that the album is about all the answers of life in a cheeseburger. Yes, a cheeseburger, a double. So, while I was about town this weekend I came across the double pack of Deconstruction and Ghost and finally purchased my first real foray into the world of Devin Townsend. And now I’m really excited to delve deeper into his musical world and look forward to what I find.

I’ll start out with part three in the series, Deconstruction. While this album starts of rather tame and accessible on the beginning of the first song, “Praise the Lowered”, it starts to subtlety build up speed and intensity before exploding into full on metal territory. And then the album begins to do what its title suggests, it begins to deconstruct itself, each song breaking down into something crazier, but it’s when you hit the midway point of the album, on the song “The Mighty Masturbator” is when the album really starts to delve deep into musical chaos and Devin really starts testing us with what we will accept in our music. By the time you hit the end of the album your left with a “What the f’ just happened” feeling, and it’s great. But, I’m getting to far ahead of myself.

The concept of the album is something to note. It’s an album about a man’s journey through Hell and his own mind(main questions being, “Who am I?” and “Why do we love metal?”) and Satan offering him all the answers to the secrets of the universe. Seems pretty standard for a metal album, right? Well Devin’s musical portrayal of Hell doesn’t come across the standard idea of Hell many of us are accustomed to but, the best way I can describe it, is it’s like that hallucination scene in Beavis and Butt-head Do America, full of color, personality, and insanity. The mental journey, again while being typical in an album, is made atypical here with wonderful lyric writing and delivery. While at times the words can be very serious and direct, more often Devin adds in his twisted humor into the mix and creates some lines that are hilarious and at the same time sincere, especially as you come closer to the end of the album and the insanity picks up. And, the offering of all the answers to the secrets of the universe. Like usual, it’s a cruel trick by the devil, he offers all the answers to character in the form of a delicious, greasy, cheeseburger, a double. Problem is, our little hero is a vegetarian and to gain the answers he would have to turn on a stance he believes strongly in.

Musically, there is everything, including the kitchen sink, of the metal realm on this album and to pinpoint them all would be quite a feat. Like I stated before, the album starts off rather tame and straight forward but as it progresses it gets crazier as all these styles start to mash together. You will hear a full orchestra, belching, a full choir, industrial sounds, Devin’s vocal range going from screaming and ranting to operatic and Broadwayian. You will hear two drummers, farting, solos, riffing, synthesizers, and a plethora of guest singers. The guest singers add much to the songs that they are a part of offering their unique styles that fit in great with Devin’s own voice and also to the style of the song. Some guests include Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth, Tommy Rodgers of Between the Buried and Me, Ihsahn of Emporer, Joseph Duplantier of Gojira, Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan, and Oderus Urungus of GWAR just to name a few.

While I absolutely loved Deconstruction for its depth, insanity, uniqueness, and pushing of boundaries of what we will accept in our music, I can see how this album is not for everybody, especially the 2nd half. But if the idea of musical chaos, fart noises, and a choir singing “Cheeseburger” don’t immediately turn you off, you owe it to yourself to check out this album. It’s full of talent and amid the chaos every note and sound seems perfectly placed and belongs where it is. Structured chaos? What ever it is, it just works, and works great. While the album can be very playful and funny at times, in the end your left with a serious look into the human condition and it couldn’t have been better executed. I highly recommend checking Deconstruction out. Now onto Ghost.

Ghost is the fourth and final part of the Devin Townsend Project quadrilogy. And like its preceding album it an extreme. Its extreme is on the mellow side and yet again Devin pushes the boundaries of what we will listen to in our music. How many of you own a Yanni or John Tesh album? Not many of you I would guess. How many of you would go out and purchase one of those New Age artists? Again, not many of you I guess. So, why should you purchase and listen to an album in that genre? Quite simply, it’s really damn good.

On Ghost Devin transforms you into a feather as he acts as the wind. He’s a gentle and kind wind, never blowing too hard or abruptly. He navigates you on a journey through our Mother Earth showing us it’s majesty and beauty. He guides us through our soul and tends to the wounded parts of it. He relaxes and soothes you, calms the beast of your energetic metal heart. And by the end of the journey, you will feel like a new person as he guided you to inner-peace, all he asks of you is to close your eyes and let him work his magic.

He uses his soft and soothing singing voice, amazing flute and pan flute playing, light acoustic guitar playing, landscapes built on synthesizers and keyboards to guide us on the journey. He also utilizes ambient nature sounds such as the wind blowing through trees and a pond of frogs croaking to build the world around us. But the instrument he uses to the greatest effect on Ghost is his positive energy and passion. That positivity transcends into us and does some marvelous things, it soothes you, calms you, and it heals you.

The idea of owning a New Age album might not be the forthright thing in the head of many people reading this, but I do recommend purchasing and giving a good listen to Ghost. It’s a deeply spiritual album and if you let yourself relax while you listen you will be taken on a wonderful journey inside yourself and throughout nature. Once you start listening to Ghost you will find that you can not pull yourself away, every unscarred part of your soul will constantly be demanding more.

Deconstruction and Ghost are made to be together. Deconstruction is full of rage, chaos, confusion, and intensity. Ghost is ethereal, mellow, mending, and soothing. While being polar opposites, they compliment each other perfectly playing on the two musical extremes. Of course both albums can be fully enjoyed and have emotional impact when listened to separately but the real magic comes when the time is taken to enjoy the two back to back. You experience the raging storm and the relaxing calm. You see the black and then the white, then all the colors in between seem that much more glorious. If you find yourself to be open-minded with your music, I can not recommend these albums enough. They can be purchased separately and also as a two album combo package with a little discount on it, also included in the 2 album pack is access to download 4 songs to be released on the upcoming Ghost II as well as the lyric sheet for Ghost(the Ghost album doesn’t include the lyrics in the booklet, but it does have some wonderful nature photography) Peace Love and Metal!!!

Photo Credits: HevyDevy.com