For once, Devin has made an album completely devoid of substance; a facetious, masturbatory exercise which has tarnished his credibility and wasted massive amounts of talent. Though some great moments are scattered throughout Deconstruction, they don’t save it from failure as a cohesive whole.
One of my biggest frustrations with this album isn’t even the goofy “story” or subpar music, but the dishonest selling points that Devin used to hype the hell out of it. In interviews, he repeatedly labeled it as “soul crushing kershlttery,” and “heavier than Strapping Young Lad
.” That’s a whopper! Even The New Black was heavier than this! And plus, you can’t much heavier than the King of Cheeseburgers himself, Gene Hoglan. Maybe you should have gotten him for this album, Dev. You know, to command some authority behind the skins, rather than the thin sounding clicking noises we’re treated to on this record.
I say that last comment with all due respect to Dirk and Ryan, who are good drummers. The problem here lies in the production. In trying to layer so much into the mix, everything’s been thinned out to the max- guitars, drums, vocals... and the bass is totally inaudible, as usual for Devin’s albums (c’mon Dev, where’s the beef!?). I’ll take a simpler mix with fewer instruments but fatter tones any day over this ultra Pro-Tooled shlte. I bet Jens Bogren needed a big Mac to handle this mixing job, ho ho!
The choir and orchestra add nothing to album, nay detract from it. Devin should have just overdubbed his voice for the choral parts, because I know he’s capable of this (Infinity
had about 80 vocal tracks per song) and because I can understand what he’s saying. What was he thinking using a choir from Prague for an English language album? As for the orchestra, Dev could have used keyboards as he’s done in the past and no one would care. As for the cameos, Ihsahn and Paul Masvidal were the only ones that really stood out to me. Akerfeldt and Thordendal were woefully underutilized, and after 30 or so listens to the entire album, I can’t even recall the parts of Tommy Rogers, Greg Puciato, Paul Kuhr, and Oderus Urungus.
If I had to compare Deconstruction to a cheeseburger, it would be a huge Red Robin cheeseburger that’s loaded up with so crap you end up missing all the things you really expect from a hamburger. Beef, if you will, read here as emotional depth or sincerity. Unfortunately, Devin is no longer the torturted artist he was in the Ocean Machine
days, and is having difficulty writing songs with emotional weight. He has grown complacent, and his trademark “humor” has gotten out of control, particularly at his live shows, where he spends more time making stupid jokes than performing his actual songs. Granted, Devin has the right to be happy if wants, but he should be careful not to alienate his more serious fans, who have looked to his music for its cathartic properties. Songs are powerful when listeners connect with the emotions and experiences of the writers. I can connect with a guy who’s tired of the way he’s feeling every day, but not with one who fantasizes about vagina faced ladies and men with seventeen testicles.
Yes, I know the album’s meant to be absurd and humorous. I’m not some kind of snob who demands that all music be brooding and mysterious. My point of contention is that Deconstruction feels horribly conflicted between the serious and humorous. The first three tracks, Praise The Lowered
, and Juular
are very dark and progress in intensity, painting a portrait of a man at his breaking point. By the time Planet of the Apes
rolls around, you expect some type of huge, existential explosion... but you don’t get it. Instead, you get a silly track about boners and metal bands ripping off Meshuggah
. Talk about a boner killer. If Devin wants to channel his humor through music, he needs to do so with joke albums like Punky Brüster
rather than tainting albums that could have been epic with sophomoric crap.
Speaking of boner killers, Floor Jansen. Just kidding. The Mighty Masturbator
. I had very high hopes for this track considering the title and length, but it’s a definite letdown. It starts off well, and feels like it should go somewhere but doesn’t- like a Tool song. The overlong techno tangent just ruins the song for me, and I also don’t like how Devin “reprised” (regurtitated) melodies from “Numbered
” on this song. Don’t tell me this is some type of 2deep4u motif- he’s just being lazy. I do like the reprise of The Infinite Waltz
though, and the last line of the song:
“Ladies and gentleman! I now see my life’s purpose! I am the Mighty Masturbator! Amen.”
Yeah! **** subtlety Dev!
Even though it epitomizes the overall goofiness of the record, Deconstruction
is perhaps its only redeeming moment. It has some pretty bitchin’ riffs and the climax in which Dev reveals himself as a “vegematarian” is just glorious. The guitar meltdown near the end of the song, which one Youtube user likened to “the world being engulfed in nuclear radiation,” is also a highlight; it seems like the only point on the album where Devin really tried to write something twisted and angular.
This brings up another problem I have with Deconstruction and Devin’s recent work in general: he seems to be stuck in a rut musically and melodically. I mean, the Lydian scale is nice but jeez, think outside the bun Dev- you’re turning into Steve Vai
. Ironically, I think Devin has exhausted the possibilites of his Open B/Open C tuning and should return to writing in standard or something else entirely for some fresh ideas.
So in conclusion, Addicted still reigns supreme as the best album in the Devin Townsend Project. Eat crayons, not cheeseburgers, and stay away from metal Dev, cause your heart’s clearly not in it anymore.