Monday, August 22, 2016

the Devin Townsend Project : "Transcendence"

Devin is far from his days in Strapping Young Lad and is now making metal for fragile flower like nerd men who think A Perfect Circle is a metal band. The album sounds pristine in many ways. Almost to clean to the point of having all the grit that makes metal produced out of it. Pro-tools is his friend. The layered vocals are great if Prog Power is your idea of metal. There are metal sounds on this album, but heading into the third song I can say it's not heavy.  From a song writing perspective "Failure" is alright. He sings great on it venturing up into his falsetto. There is a dark cloud coming in from the song's edges but the storm never really hits.  I guess this falls closer to prog metal than other sub-genres, though there is a strong under current of pop mixed into the highly orchestrated "Secret Sciences". The main problem with this song is it's lack of balls. The double bass toward the end doesn't change this.

So four or five songs in and I find myself expecting much less from his. "Higher" is like a post- "Empire" Queensryche ballad. It does build by the two minute mark into some that is more typical Townsend. The palm muted groove that comes out of this builds a little tension, but everything is still too clean and safe. The drumming is great and will wow Rush fans. I would have liked this as a teenager when Queensryche was one of my favorite bands. Now as an adult when I listen to heavy music I want it to actually be heavy. There is a djent like riff that brings a little weight but it's surrounded by tons of sterile fluff. My wife asked me if I was listening to Night Wish.

There is a better riff to "Stars" , but the over produced vocals continue to over power everything else and give it a more Dream Theater feel. The title track is just as over blown and would invoke Night Wish comparisons, even without the folk trappings and the fact female vocals are just one layer. This song is slightly less cumbersome and tolerable. There is a little more drive to "Offer Your Light" but it is repetitious and more straightforward than I would prefer. "From the Heart" reminds me of the melody to a Uriah Heap song. It much happier and lighter than I prefer my metal but a decent song. I had to check with the opening riff of "Transdermal Celebration" to make sure I hadn't clicked on "Momma I'm  Coming Home" by mistake. Overall the song is not as much of a ballad as Ozzy's big hit. It's not written in a way that would make it a radio song, but it is too melodic and light hearted to be metal. I'll give this album a 7. It's well made and performed it's just metal for pussies, so if you have one or are one you might love this.

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