Devin Townsend Project
Deconstruction


3.5
great

Review

by Nathan Derr USER (4 Reviews)
June 29th, 2011 | 6 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Deconstruction is an album that is impressive, dense, and more than a little frustrating.

You can call Devin Townsend a lot of things, but you certainly can’t call him someone who approaches his work lightly. He goes all in on every hand, and this mindset has created a body of work that is somewhat hit-or-miss, though none of it is half-assed. Deconstruction is really the epitome of this approach to music, with Townsend pulling out all the stops and throwing in whatever he wants. The result is an album that is impressive, dense, and more than a little frustrating.

Many fans were hoping this would essentially be another Strapping Young Lad album. While this is undeniably his heaviest work since Alien, it’s not Alien Part 2. Yes, 95% of this is crushing, chaotic metal, but the wider palette of musical ideas and more prominent clean vocals set this apart from SYL. An example is “Praise the Lowered,” which starts out with a laid-back beat, smooth, clean vocals from Devin, and some bloopy electronics before transitioning flawlessly into crushing industrial metal. While not as drastic as the shift in “Praise the Lowered,” all the songs on Deconstruction go through several different sections, to varying levels of success. For all the moments of creativity though, there are almost as many sections of bland, recycled metal riffs that Townsend has used before. This aspect, coupled with the sheer amount of riffs and musical themes compressed into the songs, leaves the album feeling somewhat unmemorable, due to the difficulty in processing everything being thrown at you.

One of the most noticeable and nagging aspects of this album is its lyrics, both in content and delivery. On Deconstruction, Townsend sticks to the themes of self-discovery, responsibility, spirituality, etc., that he has been exploring on the other albums in the Devin Townsend Project. Here though, he’s balls-deep, and just like the instrumental aspect of the album, he’s left subtlety to other folks. Instead of coming across as inspirational/deep/whatever, the lyrics just seem forced, and his near-spoken delivery doesn’t do much to help. The lyrics often end up sticking out conspicuously and quickly get tiresome.

On this album of excess, it’s the songs that show restraint that keep the thing from collapsing under its own weight. “Juular,” for instance, is about as wild and chaotic as the rest of the album, and yet it sticks to a manageable handful of musical themes and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Plus, the abstract lyrics (what’s a Juular?) avoid the over-obvious feeling that plagues most of the album. “Praise the Lowered” and even “Sumeria” are in the same vein, having a diversity of sounds without feeling tossed-together.

As bloated and repetitive as Deconstruction can be, there are some real nuggets of outstanding music in here, such as the “Tungsten body, glowing mind!” section in Planet of the Apes, the various throwbacks to Addicted in “The Mighty Masturbator,” and any time that Cynic’s Paul Masvidal opens his mouth. These sorts of moments are the footholds in this monolith of an album, and though there could be more of them, there are enough to prove that Townsend has still “got it.”

But somehow, the overwhelming excess on here is strangely refreshing. In a musical climate that holds minimalism in such high regard, creating an album this dense and indulgent takes some real cojones. Despite its flaws, the album is a testament to Townsend’s willingness to see his vision through to the end, critics-be-damned. Hopefully this album is also a symbolic purging of his over-indulgent tendencies, and that in the future he makes further use of his restraint.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
CaptWaffles
June 29th 2011


192 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Might knock this down to a 3, I'm not sure.

Comments/suggestions much appreciated!

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2011


2003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Hmm. I guess we just both saw it from a different view. You've got a nice review here, my friend.

Were you a fan of Ziltoid?

Digging: Thank You Scientist - Maps of Non-Existent Places

Jruined
June 30th 2011


1300 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fine review.

Digging: Scott Walker and Sunn O))) - Soused

iambandersnatch
July 2nd 2011


1485 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Solid review. I too dislike some of the lyrics on the album, although lyrics have never been a make or break thing for me in music (for me it's like 95% music 5% lyrics in terms of importance). One thing I hate is when an artist tries to fit a lyric or phrase into a measure of music where it just doesn't sound good, just because he/she is so intent on conveying that particular idea. I think devin is guilty of that in a few places, particularly in planet of the apes (good song though).

Did anyone else think he was saying "Saruman!" when they first heard planet of the apes? lol

KronosRage
July 9th 2011


367 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Agree with this

CaptWaffles
July 17th 2011


192 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for the kind words, y'all.

Tom- I'm kinda meh on Ziltoid. I really like the concept and some of the songs, but I just think it's too...bland? Samey? I don't know, it just doesn't feel as unique as some of his other work.



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