Devin Townsend (band) - Deconstruction
For many, the promise of new Devin Townsend material is somewhat broken when that material doesn't fall somewhere in line with his work with Strapping Young Lad (RIP?). To be fair, Devin set this divide himself by simply functioning on two sides of the extreme. Extremely mellow, extremely...not. And all points in between. It is this inherently un-definable blend of intensity and calm that many fans find the most intriguing and enjoyable element of his music. Narrowing down this train of thought and aiming it towards his recent collection of albums under the "Devin Townsend Project" banner, Deconstruction is to SYL what Ghost is to Synchestra. That's the best comparison I can give, and furthermore, beyond all comparisons, Decon is one of the most epic, beautifully constructed pieces of Heavy Devy you'll ever hear.
"Praise the Lowered" (clever play on words, that) begins mellow enough, building up a head of steam before overflowing at the seams. You'll rarely hear anyone so utterly PISSED about drugs as hearing Devin shriek "Smoke that fucking WEED, BOY." This is about the moment where you know things are kicking into a familiar gear. One of the coolest things about Decon is the veritable who's-who of metal's finest vocalists Devy was able to recruit to back him up. Here, it starts with November's Doom's growler Paul Kurh adding a nice counterpoint to a snarling, high-pitched Devin. Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt provides his disctintive low-register growl on "Stand", an early highlight that mostly works off of a mid-paced, groove-based tempo and closes in a brilliant fashion. I'll be quite honest; my first experience with Decon didn't really begin until "Juular" and, at that point, I was positively entranced. Featuring a killer vocal spot by former Emperor frontman Ihsahn, this song has just about everything I love to hear from a DT song; catchy, heavy, off-kilter, threating to fly off the rails but somehow altogether...beautiful. And holy shit is that chorus epic. One of the only musicians who can honestly send chills down my spine.
Onwards, "Planet of the Apes" does meander a bit, but sticking around for the last 3 of this song's 11 minutes is well worth it."Sumeria" just kicks all sorts of ass as it shifts around on a foundation of thick, powerful percussion. Guest vocalist Joe Duplantier (Gojira) really makes his presence known on this track. "The Mighty Masturbator" is, goofy name aside, the highlight of the album. A potent piece of introspection for our fictional character, the narrative is driven home by expertly crafted shifts in tempo, tone, and truly, genres within it's 16 minutes. Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan) is given a section of DEP-esque room to manuever, and almost steals the show. And I'll admit, even though many won't recognize it, the ending waltz is actually taken from an old demo called "Proccessional" and it brought a tear to my eye despite the silly lyrics accompanying it. "Pandemic" is the purest blast of intensity on the album, short and to the sharpened point. The title track? Confuses me to no end. Honestly, it has some awesome bits to it, but it is so spastic and over-the-top that you may need a dozen or more listens to...deconstruct it. Perhaps this was the point? Much fun comes from the inclusion of Oderus Urungus (Gwar) and Fredrik Thordendal (Meshuggah) has a pretty recognizable guitar solo within. "Poltergiest" puts a finishing touch on Decon, and summarizes the inspiration, motivation and determination of the entire project.
There is a creative narrative running through Deconstruction which, from what I gather, involves a man's search for God and the meaning of life. Ultimately, he comes to realize that all things can be deconstructed to their source and that the perfect metaphor for this involves...a cheeseburger. Not many musicians can deftly manage humor, horror, spirituality and logic the way Devin can...and that's just as a lyricist. Let us not forget that the argument is just in calling him one of the most creative modern musicians we have today. Deconstruction is a monument to that claim, a stand-alone masterpiece amongst a series of excellent albums under the Devin Townsend Project banner.
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