Devin Townsend Project
Epicloud


3.0
good

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
September 14th, 2012 | 73 replies | 9,277 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The metal goes pop! But there's no soul inside to back it up.

There's a YouTube series run by EgoRaptor (of "The Awesome Series" fame) and JonTron where the two play games and review them as they go. Recently they've chronicled their ventures in The New Super Mario Brothers Wii and their blatantly negative opinion of the game, to the point where they've had to address and defend their opinion multiple times. The two agree that the game is, as they say, "soulless, but fun" - a mindless romp through a platformer we've played a million times before with little innovation to show for it; an experience that placates the most specific fans' pleas for "more" with a direct carbon copy. But such a copy doesn't have a commanding, emotion-packed presence. It's there to fill the void, alright, but it does so without really providing anything new and without really professing any sort of passion in its delivery.

Unfortunately, the case is much the same for Devin Townsend's most recent outing, Epicloud, the fifth in the series of releases under the moniker of "The Devin Townsend Project" and the second to feature the vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen. Only, this time, the music has been simplified, stripped down, and made numb to the emotional connection it once bore. Sure, some of the tracks are still "fun" ("Lucky Animals," "More!," "Liberation"), but they lack any real emotion or musical intrigue to back them up.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that the instrumentation on the album has been stripped down and put on repeat for the majority of the album - "Save Our Now," for example, follows a very distinct and cyclical pattern of synthesizer loops and candy-coated heavy riffs. Doing this provides more of a vocal focus and lends to the "pop"-ish quality of the music. It's something that happens a lot in pop music and, when properly fronted, the instrumental section is simply transformed into a highlighting glow that surrounds a solid performance from a singer with mesmerizing phrasing and a captivating vocal performance. It's worked for Michael Jackson, Brittany Spears, and legions of others.

And Addicted came sort of close to that, but always teetered on the edge, keeping things just heavy enough, just inconsistent enough to avoid the trappings of the sappy pop world. But Epicloud, with the exception of "Kingdom" (a re-recording from previous album Physicist) jumps headlong into it and gets its neck caught in the vice. And, admittedly, it's a bit perplexing that it happened. Devin Townsend has an amazing voice and a great vocal range. So does Anneke van Giersbergen. And, if Addicted proved anything, it was that the two could sync up in a beautiful way. Addicted, as with all of the previous "Project" releases, had a lot of soul.

But Epicloud, for all its use of the two, doesn't hit on the same wavelength. It doesn't even come close. And the issue is in the vocals. One listen to "Kingdom" shows Devin placing a lot of emotion in his delivery - the scream of "I'm FINE!," the clean roar of "stay with me" - it's all there. It's a powerful song. But compare it to a song like "Save Our Now," a song whose lyrics seem to press for urgency, but whose vocal force is a croon from both Devin and Anneke. Even the "aggressive" choruses of the song sound disingenuous. And it sounds this way because we know the range of these two. We've seen them strain on Addicted, fighting for those tough notes to complete the feeling of the internal struggles that only music can convey. And that's not here on Epicloud.

As a matter of fact, "Kingdom" is the only track where that feeling of personal investment comes across and, as a re-hash, it almost feels like a cheat as much as it feels like the elephant in the room for the rest of the album. Even the flowing acoustic passages provided on Epicloud feel devoid of emotion, with the following passage from "Divine", sung in a flat, neutral tone, being one of the chiefest offenders: "loving you is the best thing and the worst thing in the world." That's a line that screams struggle! It's a line that screams emotion! But there's nothing there to convey that.

And without that tone, that force, that power, you have what you get with Super Mario Brothers Wii - a game that's sort of fun, but which lacks any substance or innovation. A nostalgia trip for all of its throwback references (the Addicted and Ghost nods are obvious, but "Hold On" seems almost directly ripped from a secret collection of Ocean Machine B-sides) that can be enjoyed and rocked out to. But for all that Devin Townsend has achieved on his past four records, the bar was set far, far higher for this album and in terms of artistic merit, it's failed to reach it.



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user ratings (477)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
griffonman14 (4.5)
Another excellent work from the almighty Devin Townsend, Epicloud doesn't only appeal to Devy fanboy...

donovan909 (3)
Fans of Townsend will find little to salivate over in hopes of an Addicted 'Pt.2'.....

Irving Tan STAFF (3)
A tale full of sound and fury...signifying nothing....

Michael Snoxall (4)
DTP V: The Anneke Strikes Back...


Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2012



1981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I think I got it on this one.

50th review, yay me.

I'm super sad this didn't rock. I love Devin to bits, but this does nothing for me.

Digging: Rx Bandits - Gemini, Her Majesty

KILL
September 14th 2012



70599 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

fuck u

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2012



1981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Ouch, Kill, that hurts

KILL
September 14th 2012



70599 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

didnt neg btw!!!!!!!

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2012



1981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

It's all good.

Negs don't mean shit.

zxlkho
September 14th 2012



3460 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

rating is too high

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2012



1981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Well, I can't say it's totally bad - like I said, there are some fun elements. It's just an empty sort of fun. "Good enough," but nothing more.

mindleviticus
September 14th 2012



8166 Comments


Fucking spot on

mindleviticus
September 14th 2012



8166 Comments


Lovely review especially the egoraptor and JonTron reference

bloc
September 14th 2012



34675 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Pos because you noticed me :3

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2012



1981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Thanks, guys. I'm going to go ahead and guess that all negs are people who don't like Game Grumps.

Also, I less than three you, Bloc. We always seem to rate the same obscure EPs and crap, but we
usually have really variant ratings. Cool to see that we actually synced up for once.

KerfuffleinaHussle
September 14th 2012



729 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I gotta say the bonus tracks are a lot more "emotive" than the first disc.

Still, Angels and Grace aren't worthy of special note? Pos'd btw, good review. The negs are probably
because a lot of Devin fanboys tend to get a little butthurt if the slightest bit of criticism is
thrown his way.

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2012



1981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Well, they both pretty much fit into the category of "unemotive singing over loopy, stripped-down patterns." Though I think I like those two more than other tracks, since they kind of try to do something more, even if they don't really succeed. I kind of like "Angel," actually, but it's not divergent enough to really do anything to the sound, especially as a closer.

Also inserting commentary on them would overbloat the review (which is long enough already) and damage flow, at least in my opinion.

Emyay
September 14th 2012



5790 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pos. great review. hate to say it but, the more i listen to this the more(!) i have to agree. although, yeah, there are some good tracks

RosaParks
September 14th 2012



14592 Comments


dev plays hard jams to deaf ears

RosaParks
September 14th 2012



14592 Comments


hey look mike stokes being condescending on the internet. what a badass guy in real life

not my real rating anyway so get over yourself idiot

RosaParks
September 14th 2012



14592 Comments


no id punch your soft spot

RosaParks
September 14th 2012



14592 Comments


aw

Whispered4tw
September 14th 2012



594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I think you're criticizing this album on something that it doesn't try to be. It's like you said, a fun poppy album. Exactly as Townsend intended. Nothing as deep and meaningful as you heard on Ocean Machine or Terria.

KILL
September 14th 2012



70599 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

yaaaaaaaa



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