Review Summary: The hype train has been derailed.
I was not a fan of Devin Townsend’s 2009 release Addicted
. Being billed as a “dancier” or “poppier” album, Addicted instead felt like a collection of songs held together by decent hooks, capable mainstream alt metal-sounding riffs, and a lot of cheese. Way, way, way too much cheese. So much so that it actually made the album hard to enjoy. Despite being an album that was intended to be a fun listen, the clogged flow of the album, the lack of worthwhile album highlights, and the mechanized feel of a number of the songs instead made it feel like a chore to sit through. Why do I bring this up? Because Deconstruction suffers from many of the same flaws as Addicted, cranks the cheese level up to ludicrous proportions, and introduces Devin’s trademark wall of sound production into the equation (which I have never been a fan of), and yet despite all of this, this is actually a superior
album in comparison.
Devin certainly wasn’t lying when he stated that this album would be heavy, and this is some of the heaviest non-SYL material I have heard from him. Unfortunately, Devin’s idea of “heavy” just involves making the mix as cluttered as possible by stuffing in various loud noises. Truly, I find it hard to be impressed by his wall of sound production. Yes, the material on here is heavy to some extent, but it has all the raw intensity of an Owl City performance. It’s completely sterile, but does that necessarily make it a bad album? No, although it certainly is a hindrance. The songs themselves are what make this album.
is over 70 minutes long, and the tracklengths on here vary from standard 3 minute tracks to 16 minutes. The longer tracks suffer more often than not by dragging on longer than they should, and the shorter tracks often feel like afterthoughts, or become overshadowed by the stronger moments on this album and interrupt the album’s flow. Two of the album’s best tracks – Praise the Lowered and Sumeria – are around the 6 minute mark, and have just enough time to show what they have to offer without dragging or feeling like they’ve been cut short. The former begins with a tasteful electronic intro that continues to build for about the first half of the song before segueing into the metal sound that defines this album. The latter could best be described as a more symphonic-sounding Gojira track, partially due to Joe Duplantier’s guest vocals, who is among the few guest spots on this album who do not come up short in their performances. Yes, unfortunately, one of the biggest disappointments with this album are the much-hyped cameos. Mikael Akerfeldt is relegated to just doing back-up growls in sync with Devin’s lead vocals on Stand, Tommy Rogers takes a backseat to the symphony on Planet Of The Apes, and Paul Masvidal shows up for approximately one minute at the end of Sumeria to deliver a merely passable performance.
Greg Puciato is the most effective guest spot on the album, whose performance on The Mighty Masturbator is absolutely up to par with what I expect from him. Said track is also the high point of the album – the 16 minute centerpiece that attempts to combine everything this album has to offer that in no way, shape, or form should work. And yet it does. Devin throws everything but the kitchen sink here, including an incredibly catchy industrial-influenced section and a brief Mr. Bungle-esque moment. The unnecessary (and unfunny) two minute outro is easily overlookable.
This track is one of two on this album that attempts to showcase everything this album is about at once. The second of which is the title track, which is every bit as disastrous as I expected The Mighty Masturbator to be. Now, before this album’s release, one of my biggest fears is that the orchestra would end up being overused. However, for the most part, it’s very well-handled on this album... unfortunately, the title track is an exception in this case. The orchestra’s omnipresence drowns the track in a sea of cheese; in addition, the song consists of the same tedium that plagues most of this album while Devin plays up the humor that, up until this point, had only shown up in spare moments. To make matters worse, the “humor” in this track just isn’t funny, and basically consists of Devin making slight variants on the same two “jokes” over and over. Now, granted, Devin has gone on record to state that the humor on this album was directed at pissing off the “musically elite”, and I can appreciate a good troll attempt every once and a while – problem is, it’s gotten in the way of this album’s general quality. Truly, I don’t find myself compelled to come back to listen to this album for full listens purely because of this song. There are a number of individual songs on here that are worth repeated listens, but the title track is simply horrendous.
The Mighty Masturbator shows how much better this album could’ve potentially been, whereas the title track shows how much worse this album could’ve ended up. Even though I may not find this to be a bad album as a whole, I feel disappointed with it. Devin had good intentions, and again, the potential was here. There are both good ideas and bad ideas on here; it’s just a shame that too many of the former ended up getting lost among the latter. And in the end, Deconstruction will likely end up turning away as many people as it attracts.
But hey, at least it’s better than Addicted