By Andrew Bansal
Canadian multi-instrumentalist Devin Townsend released “Epicloud”, the fifth album in the Devin Townsend Project series, on September 18th via Inside Out Music. The previous 4 albums, “Ki”, “Addicted”, “Deconstruction” and “Ghost” presented different facets of Devin Townsend’s musicianship, and were well received by his devout fans. After the release of Ghost and a special set of shows in London where he performed all four albums and released them on DVD, it was clear to everyone that it was the end of that chapter, and he certainly left me guessing as to what his next musical move would be. I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised by the music on “Epicloud”. While each of the previous 4 albums followed a particular theme and musical style, this one is completely opposite in that sense, and is more of a wildly eclectic roller-coaster ride.
The album starts off on an extremely happy note with the massive and aptly titled chorus intro “Effervescent!”, and leads into “True North” which is another upbeat track, dominated by female vocals and a grand orchestral atmosphere, even though the heavy riffs keep it ‘metal’. But I feel these two tracks were just acting as the buildup to something bigger, louder and more epic. And that explosion comes in track #3, “Lucky Animals”. Boasting of probably the catchiest chorus I’ve ever heard, the song barely gets into your head instantly. Devin is completely in his elements here with his vocals, and I can already imagine him using his entire range of facial expressions while performing this on stage, with the fans singing along and jumping the entire time.
Next comes “Liberation”, a fast-paced tune that can be best described as straight-up hard rock with an upbeat aura to it, and is a good change-up from the previous track in terms of tempo and musical style. In complete contrast, “Where We Belong” is on the other side of the spectrum. Devin croons along while playing acoustic guitar, and electric guitars chime in after a while to give it a soft-rock ballad type feel. If you’re a fan of Devin’s mellower stuff, the song “Ih-Ah” from the Addicted album for example, you’ll love this track. Some of these vocal stylings are carried over to the following song “Save Our Now”, and his interplay with the female vocals is the main feature of this extremely happy tune. As I had already predicted, “Kingdom” is a total contrast, with crushingly heavy riffs, thumping rhythm section, passages of varying tempo, and even harsh vocals for good measure, almost like a symphonic death metal track. “Divine” continues the roller-coaster experience with complete focus on Devin’s crooning vocals and hardly any music barring a handful of guitar notes. The rest of the album continues to offer wild turns and surprises. “Grace”, “More!” and “Angel” are heavier songs reminiscent of the music on “Addicted” more than anything else, “Lessons” is a delightful little acoustic piece in its own right, while “Hold On” also falls in the mellow side of the spectrum.
Overall, this is an album a lot of hardcore metalheads might end up hating, and even the most die-hard Devin Townsend fans might find it hard to grasp so many different musical elements in a mere 50-minute album. But as Devin rightly said in my interview with him, “Epicloud” is a summary of what the Devin Townsend Project has done, and if you look at it like that, it’s a brilliant composition. There’s no doubt that the man has put his whole-hearted energy and exploited all of his musical talent to write these songs, and has achieved what he aimed to do.
I’m really not sure who I’d recommend it to, other than to fans of Devin Townsend. If you’re not familiar with his past work, this album will make you go, ‘What the fuck is this?!’ As for the ‘commercial’ music on this album, the heavy metal police might frown at me for liking it, but all I’d say is, I perceive this album as a complete musical offering that gives me a lot more than metal alone.
Related: Devin Townsend interview
Record Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: September 18th 2012
2. True North
3. Lucky Animals
5. Where We Belong
6. Save Our Now