Devin Townsend
Physicist


3.0
good

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
July 27th, 2007 | 72 replies | 16,137 views


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Devin's quality takes a slight dip, but this release still stands above a majority of other metal bands out there.

Devin Townsend is one of metal’s musical geniuses, constantly putting out new material under different titles and almost always of a high quality. Arguably, he is most well known for his band Strapping Young Lad which is crushing, angry, and sarcastic as hell, but he has another side to him. That side is usually more melodic, experimental, and progressive than Strapping Young Lad and has found its home mostly under the Devin Townsend and The Devin Townsend Band monikers. This particular album falls under the "Devin Townsend" moniker, but sounds more like Strapping Young Lad-lite.

Overall this album comes off as a restrained version of Strapping Young Lad with hints of his other projects thrown in. The first way that this album comes off as restrained is due to the production, which is more similar to his other projects and less the “wall-of-sound” associated with Strapping Young Lad. What that means is that the production is excellent, of course, but just a little too reigned in to compliment the music as much as it could. Also, the guitars seem just a little too muddy - a little sharper tone could have given the album the edge it seems to lack. Overall, the production doesn’t take away from the album but it could have enhanced it more with just a few minor changes.

The music itself seems to follow the restrained Strapping Young Lad formula as well. The songs almost all come off as aggressive and they are mostly played at a pretty fast tempo, but they just never seem to find that edge and cross over it. Instead they start at a certain aggression level and are content to stay there without pushing the barriers as they progress. I use the term “progress” lightly because the majority of each song has already been exposed within the first few minutes of its start-time. The most glaringly obvious difference between this and SYL is the lackluster performance of drum-god Gene Hoglan. The drums on this album are just far too two-dimensional and do nothing to help the songs feel dynamic. The reason that there are so many references to Devin’s heavier project is because this album really does sound like it was meant to be a Strapping Young Lad project but at the last minute Devin changed his mind.

Despite the fact that this feels like a weak SYL album, it didn't end up following under that moniker so at this point all SYL references will cease. The album starts out on a high-point, with the song "Namaste" coming out with a fast, heavy riff, synths that mirror the riffs, double bass, and Devin’s aggressive-style vocals. The chorus is immediately catchy as he switches from pure aggression to a more sing/scream style. By the end of the album this song will stick out as one of the best it has to offer. Unfortunately, by the second song you start to realize that you’ve heard this from Devin before. The main riff on the second track, "Victim", bears an uncanny resemblance to SYL’s song "Detox" from their City album, except it doesn’t ever reach the level of quality that "Detox" did. It’s the same basic story with the third track, it just doesn’t seem to go anywhere and just blends into the previous track; although it does feature an interesting use of backing vocals and synths. While this might seem like it’s about to become a track-by-track review, it is not, but special mention has to be made for track 4, "Kingdom". "Kingdom" is one of my favorite songs that has ever been written by Devin. It contains the musical aggression of anything he has done before, an interesting use of synths where they mirror the guitars (similar to the first track), multiple layers of vocal tracks, and it’s also very catchy. I could recommend buying this album just for that song; that’s how good it is.

Unfortunately, after the huge level of quality that comes from "Kingdom" everything thereafter is just kind of boring and blends together again. The next three tracks are three of the fastest on the album, but they seem more speed for speed’s sake and don’t really go anywhere or do anything special. They also aren’t fleshed-out enough to really even differentiate themselves from each other. After those tracks and a few short songs that never really seem to develop, is the 11 minute song "Planet Rain". By this point the album has just kind of blurred together, and nothing is really sticking out anymore and an 11-minute song doesn't help. It's fairly slow throughout its duration, the riffs aren’t memorable, and Devin’s vocals don’t add any flair or personality to a song already sorely lacking both.

If you’ve made it through this entire review you might be under the impression that this album is horrible and the score is probably far too high, but its not. While I’ve written the review of the album to a standard that Devin himself has set with his other releases, the score is more a reflection of how this album compares to the metal scene in general. By the end of this album there should be no doubt that there is a quality to Physicist that would make other bands jealous and that it is worth more then an occasional listen, but its just not to the level that Devin himself has conditioned us to expect. Basically, if you’ve bought all the SYL albums and maybe Terria and Ocean Machine then it could be time to give this a listen. Just remember that while it’s not up to the standards we expect from Devin, it is still a pretty good listen.



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user ratings (279)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
rattlehead42147
July 27th 2007



1345 Comments


everyone claims this guy is a genius maybe i should check him out. well done on the review

Willie
Moderator
July 27th 2007



15894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

If you're wanting the heavy side then go for Strapping Young Lad's album "City".

If you're wanting to try the proggier more "musical" side then I'd reccomend "Terria" for a more involved listen or "Ocean Machine" for something a little more "instant".

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

Eakflanderyof
July 27th 2007



2143 Comments


I wouldn't say that this guy is a genius. I also wouldn't call Gene Hoglan a drum god.

Shattered_Future
July 27th 2007



1539 Comments


No, this guy is most definately a genius when he wants to be. This one is meh though. Much too samey.

Eakflanderyof
July 27th 2007



2143 Comments


I've only really heard his work with Strapping Young Lad, which is far from genius. Maybe his solo stuff is better?

Willie
Moderator
July 27th 2007



15894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've only really heard his work with Strapping Young Lad, which is far from genius. Maybe his solo stuff is better?
His solo stuff is definitely more varied and "musical" then Strapping Young Lad... but Strapping Young Lad is supposed to be extreme and over the top.

Looking at your favorite albums its hard to say if you'd like his solo stuff. If I had to make a guess about your tastes, I'd say give his album "Infinity" a try... or at least read a review or two about it to see if it might be interesting to you (I suggest a review other then the one on this site).

Eakflanderyof
July 27th 2007



2143 Comments


Well, I've actually been expanding a lot lately, but my album ratings don't reflect it. I'm open to hearing anything. Good review BTW.

Willie
Moderator
July 27th 2007



15894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks... you might try giving his album Infinity a shot then for an idea of what else he does... its slightly more metal then the two albums I reccomended a few comments ago to someone else.

XSebbyMcMuffinX
July 29th 2007



339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like Devin's work but I don't think Ocean Machine is that far up in his discography. I think Terria and Infinity are better and Accellerated Evolution and Synchestra are way too different to say if either are better or worse compared to Ocean Machine. I think Synchestra might be better... Does that make me special?

Cravinov13
July 30th 2007



3854 Comments


yes. deedeedee

actually I have no real opinion cause I don't listen to a lot of DT.

Willie
Moderator
July 30th 2007



15894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like Devin's work but I don't think Ocean Machine is that far up in his discography. I think Terria and Infinity are better and Accellerated Evolution and Synchestra are way too different to say if either are better or worse compared to Ocean Machine. I think Synchestra might be better... Does that make me special?
Ha ha, that's what happens when I make broad generalizations like that... even if there's only one person in the world it didn't apply to, they'd be around to point it out ;)

froghawk
January 12th 2008



126 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Actually, Gene Hoglan is the drummer on this album! The lineup is the same as SYL.

And since you keep comparing the album to SYL, that's probably a useful fact, as well as the fact that the Dev himself described the album as SYL meets the Spice Girls.

Willie
Moderator
January 12th 2008



15894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

So, I was wrong about Gene being on the album... instead I should just say he plays mediocre on this album....

Edit: Fixed it with two simple word changes.This Message Edited On 01.12.08

trilogique
September 26th 2009



246 Comments


Nothing Devin does should ever be rated lower than a 4.

KILL
September 26th 2009



70718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this album is an exception

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

bloc
October 19th 2009



34679 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

didn't like this album as much, but Kingdom is probably one of my favourite songs by DT.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

Willie
Moderator
October 19th 2009



15894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I am in full agreement. Too bad the rest of the album is so bland.

bloc
October 19th 2009



34679 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

the new one sounds mighty nice, i must say.

jingledeath
October 19th 2009



7104 Comments


haha I just found quotes from this review on the album's wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicist_%28album%29

mareep
October 19th 2009



391 Comments


yeah sputnik is being referenced in the Critical Reception sections of wiki articles all over the place.
Alex Silveri's review of Blackwater Park is referenced.



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