Townsend, Devin, Project: Epicloud
As the title suggests you can't spell Epicloud without Epic, this is certainly that and a lot more. What an amazing twelve months Devin Townsend has had, playing all four of his previous Project albums in their entirety live in London. Then releasing them all in one fantastic box set, preparing for his amazing Retinal Circus show in London's famous Roundhouse and if that was not enough recording and releasing this amazing collection of songs.
Teaming up once again with the glorious Anneke Van Giersbergen who brings a different element to the songs, Devin has released another classic album. If Addicted was your bag then Epicloud is sure to get your senses tingling once more. It has so many different elements, gospel singers, some Euro-pop influences and Devins trademark all out guitar fury. It amazes me how talent oozes out of every pour of this mad musical genius, from his operatic vocals to the delicate acoustic, almost love song feel of 'Divine' Epicloud is the complete album. If the Europop groove of 'Save Our Now' doesn't deserve to be a mega hit then I'll perform wild puppet sex on Ziltoid! A reworking of 'Kingdom' is a nice touch and gives the track some more depth and grunt. For all the Strapping Young Lad worshipers there may be too many softer moments for you, however Devin knows how to inject some pace and there are flourishes of Hevydevy sprinkled amongst the album.
Epicloud confirms all our assumptions that Devin Townsend is an immensely talented man, he could sing a Chinese menu in Arabic and it would sound awesome. For the connoisseurs out there the Deluxe version of the album contains ten extra demo tracks, however they too all sound astounding in their own right. There is simply no stopping this man and thank the Lord, Epicloud will take you to the stratosphere and beyond to the world of Devin Townsend….What a glorious world.
2. True North
3. Lucky Animals
5. Where We Belong
6. Save Our Now
12. Hold On
Disc 2: Demos (Deluxe Version Only)
2. Happy Birthday
5. Love Tonight
6. The Mind WASP
7. Woah No!
8. Love and Marriage
10. Little Pig
Added: November 20th 2012
Reviewer: Mark Davies
Related Link: Artist Website
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|Townsend, Devin, Project: Epicloud
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-11-20 02:00:12
After releasing four consistent albums under the moniker of Devin Townsend Project, Devin Townsend returns with the aptly titled album Epicloud. The lineup is pretty much the same as the one on Addicted! with the exception of Dave Young supplementing Devin Townsend on guitars. And yes, Anneke van Giersbergen is featured on the album providing vocals.
Anyone who has heard the previous four discs would probably agree that Addicted! was the poppiest disc in the bunch. The songs were less complex, more forthright, very bright, and emphasizing Anneke's vocalizations perfectly. In that sense, some might liken it to this new album as it shares some common characteristics. While still on most of the songs, Anneke has a smaller role on the album, but her vocals are some of her best ever, obviously thanks to Devin's amazing production job. The intro of "Grace" recalls her wonderful, unmatched performance on the terribly underrated Souvenirs disc. Her voice is surrounded by epic synths and treated to tons of reverb in the intro. On "Angel," she sounds amazing. This is a song that seamlessly blends major chords with a steady, solid midtempo rock flavour, complete with a brief lead solo and a melancholy feel despite the relatively uptempo pace.
That noted, Epicloud is no where near as focused and consistent as Addicted! or any other album Devin Townsend has released recently. While listening to it, you get the sense that he opted for a an epic-sounding disc, utilizing loads of choral vocals, tons of guitar layers washed by myriad synthesizers, a direct rhythm tandem, more choir work, all performed within a more conventional compositional framework. The problem is that the album does not flow as well his prior work; songs do stick out with great melodies and creative ideas, but they are less organically stitched to each other. That said, there is still a lot to find and enjoy in the album when given a close listen, though. The album opener "Effervescent!" boasts an understated 70s musical vibe during the choral parts while "Where We Belong" and "Lessons" recall the softer, acoustic-based cuts on his previous album Ghost. On the acoustic front, you'll also be moved by "Hold On," a song that examines the psychology of two parents whose child is terminally ill. "Save Our Now" is unlike anything Devin has written or sung before. Built around a typical 4/4 drum beat, it feels like a very typical 'radio song' treated to Devin's unique melodic sensibility. On the ballad "Divine," he starts the song with the ambiguous line "Loving you is the best thing and the worst thing in my life," and it's hypnotic. He also increases the tempo on the Lamb of God-like "More!" in terms of riffing (the overall sound is very different, though). This one even features a brief guitar solo.
His remake of "Kingdom" from the Physicist album sounds a lot tighter, with some changed lyrics and a more aggressive drive. Devin has always said he was not pleased with Physicist and he'd do it completely differently if he could. I guess this version of "Kingdom" gives us a better picture of his musical vision.
The deluxe edition of the album contains a bonus disc of demos, of which the first song "Believe" is fantastic. Other than that, I've only played it a few times. I don't really think it's essential except for the die-hard fans.
|Townsend, Devin, Project: Epicloud
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-11-03 07:02:17
I've looked up the dictionary and medical journals and nowhere can I see reference to the mind wasting disease, DevyD, or to give it its full name, Devin Deficiency. This is a condition suffered by those compelled to purchase and then immerse themselves completely in the music of Devin Townsend, brought on by the sheer volume of work this non-stop musical shop of a man produces. Although cases of DevyD are about to drop once more, what with Epicloud being (if I'm keeping up...) the fifth studio album of Devy to appear in four years, alongside four live offerings.
So for those afflicted by this addiction, does Epicloud offer release? Thankfully yes. You can rest assured that if you've found the likes of Ki, Addicted, Deconstruction, or Ghost to be irresistible, then Epicloud will also be right up your alley and bang on the thing that you choose to bang. The tag line to the album pretty much sums it all up, with the cheesy "it's epic and it's loud, so this is Epicloud" painting, quite correctly an image of an album that contains huge themes, bombastically constructed and hammered home through mighty guitars, huge synth melodies and gargantuan vocal arrangements. However cleverly Epicloud is also quite a personal experience, with heartfelt lyrics, more than a dash of humour and huge dollops of eclecticism. In fact if it was possible, I'd suggest that listening to the music of Devin Townsend is as close as you could hope to get to climbing inside a songwriters head to experience the complete lunacy that goes on inside there. "Effervescent!" kicks things off with a wild acappella opera, which bravely sticks around for almost a minute, before the almost Abba like vocals of "True North", which are provided by Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gathering) take on a surprisingly commercial romp. As you'd expect, "Lucky Animals" balances the effect with searing guitars and thumping kick drums backing a triumphal lead vocal from Devy himself. Already this is quirky and cooky and never straight forward, and if there's one thing you can expect from a Devin Townsend album, it's the unexpected. From there "Liberation" and a re-recorded and improved "Kingdom" (originally from the 2000 album Physicist) keep their foot to the floor, while "Where We Belong" falls into the dreamy melodic category. Add to that the almost charty, dancey, Eurovision of "Save Our Now", the ethereal "Divine", the ever growing epic sounding "Grace" and oppressive chant of "More", where once again Anneke stars, and Epicloud is as varying as it is effective. That leaves "Lessons" to teach us Spanish guitar, "Hold On" to be another slice of commercially knowing, heavy as hell metal, before "Angel" adds more uplifting themes and killer vocals to close the album out. It is a breathtaking, almost exhausting journey, where supreme musicianship combines with songwriting, grandeur with bombast, yet there's always introspection and emotion. It is genuinely quite a trip. The only slight (and they are slight) concerns come from a production that even during the most grand and far reaching material on this album, can feel just a touch claustrophobic and that for aficionados of Townsend's work, there may possibly one or two reference points from the Devy catalogue that can feel a little reused and revisited.
However neither of those issues detract from an album that satisfies on so many levels and shines through with a genuine emotional investment from those who created it. Epicloud lives up to its name, but it's also so much more, and most impressively, the longer you live with it, the more that becomes true. DevyD sufferers can be safe in the knowledge that their next fix will hit the spot yet again!
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