Review Summary: Fans of Townsend will find little to salivate over in hopes of an Addicted 'Pt.2'..
There is only so much one can say about Devin Townsend. He is a rather polarizing figure in the metal scene. Either people love him or hate him typically, with a few fans thrown out there into that grey area. His rather symbolic presence in extreme metal with Strapping Young Lad predominately bodes well in the metal consciousness. However, his solo output usually has been a take it or leave it affair with most fans of Strapping. There are those who love his solo output and actually are not big fans of Strapping Young Lad and those are the ones most likely to be proverbially hanging onto each disc he releases under one of his solo pseudonyms.
Epicloud finds him in fine form production-wise. Everything is there, the huge wall of sound, stacked with layers of vocals, keyboards, and massive guitars. Then again, his production is typically top notch. Most of the songs seem to have an instant appeal to them, much like what most would consider the precursor to Epicloud, Addicted did. However, where much of his solo output has a sense of adventure, curiosity, and even genre-bending insanity, Epicloud seems to have a sense of 'been there, done that' kind of feel. Unfortunately, the songs feel stale, bloated, and just big for big's sake.
His 2nd outing with Anneke Van Giersbergen might seem like a chance to resume the fun that he had on the Addicted album. However, he under-utilizes her on Epicloud, with her vocals appearing on only a hand full of tracks. Anyone familiar with his back-catalog will be reminded of Infinity as well, with the huge gang choruses on several of the songs. However, again, this all seems like re-tread. There is nothing new on here that we have not heard from him before and the songs do not have the staying power like many of his older albums.
There is no heart-wrenching 'Storm' like off of 'Accelerated Evolution', a song that showcases a simple musical backdrop for his emotional vocals dealing with infidelity. There is no 'Bad Devil', like off of 'Infinity', that is a fun, albeit, ridiculous jab at Broadway. Even the super-cheese of 'Ih Ah' off of 'Addicted' that takes the sentiment of a sugary love song and makes it work. These comparisons are not to say that a listener should expect Townsend to duplicate his output, but that is just what he has done without the added emotional or comical value.
For the ever-loving Townsend fan, he has created an output with a list of tracks that could easily fill up a 'greatest hits' two times over. However, here he just seems to have gone through the motions, which is deeply unfortunate. These songs don't have the staying power of his past output and probably won't stick in the listener's mind for more than a few spins. What is most telling of this album, is that the strongest track, is him rebooting a track, 'Kingdom', off of an older album. He deserves kudos for taking a track that has been on his live set list for years, tinkering with it, and actually making it better than the original.
For the new listener, for someone hearing Townsend for the first time, this album should not disappoint. If they find they enjoy this, it will at least be a starting point for someone to dig back deeper into his more astute catalog. For the old fan, this may satisfy only temporarily, until he provides something solid to dig into.