Devin Townsend Project
Hevy Devy / InsideOutMusic
23 September 2012
by Ruth Booth
We thought it was the end of the Devin Townsend project – so Townsend himself said. After returning from a two-year hiatus with a genre-spanning quadrilogy, capped by four sold-out album shows in London – he’d be forgiven for wanting to put that all behind him. Since then, Townsend has decided the name’s much too good to lose – which may leave some wondering about his latest troll-baiting album title.
Epicloud storms in in a blast of a capella gospel choir, setting up a record that delivers by unexpected means. Though the title name suggests otherwise, Townsend’s eclectic streak shimmers through this album, not just through Wildhearts-y rock (‘Liberation’), europop (‘Save Our Now’) and glam stomp (‘Lucky Animals’), but also progressive turns (‘True North’) and soft new age (‘Lessons‘). The constant is that relentlessly upbeat flow, coupled with an ear for glorious choruses – it rarely passes up a hook. In its grander moments, Epicloud is anthemic in excelsis.
Notoriously unhappy with the mix of parent album, Physicist, Townsend takes the chance on Epicloud to update ‘Kingdom’, also adding vocals from Anneke van Giersbergen to the live favourite. van Giersbergen makes a welcome return after an impressive last minute showing on Addicted! This record, she’s in more low-key role, beautifully accenting the record, or blending ethereal tones into the choir mix, such as the gospel metal of ‘Grace’.
Both these moves may surprise – Townsend is not known for re-treading old ground. Indeed, whether consciously or no, his is a career of reactionary moves, from death metal to electronica, gifting him with one of the most diverse back catalogues for a (largely) non-session musician. Returning to a similar sound does make sense – until you consider what this album is a reaction to.
Listen to Devin Townsend giving an audio commentary over the entire of Epicloud:
In the past, Devin Townsend has been something of an unofficial flag-bearer for the freaks and geeks. He still is, but since returning to music, Townsend has distanced himself from the “mad scientist” tag, or any sense he was just fooling around with styles. The DTP quadrilogy shows that, whether it’s Strapping Young Lad industrial assault or The Hummer’s washes of sound, this was honestly the music he was trying to make. And having spent four albums explaining how he got past his hangups and came to terms with his eclectic muse, he’s over it. This record is about forgetting that stuff and just rocking the fuck out.
Yes, Epicloud is unashamedly cheesy – but it appeals to that little gleeful part in everyone. The part that, even when you’re sober, when you hear that song, just wants to let rip and dance barefoot on the nearest table. Like singing in the shower, dancing without music – or a gospel choir without a Gospel – this record has no agenda other than having fun, freeing it to be unashamedly joyful, exuberant, transcendent, with a sound that’s practically stratospheric.
Sounds Like: Queen, Shiny Happy (Bald) People.
Standout Tracks: Grace, Where We Belong, Liberation.