Townsend. A household name? Oh, if only. The Townsend in question today (one Devin Townsend) should deserve to have his name well known. He certainly deserves it, with all the effort he�s put in.
Most well known for his band Strapping Young Lad, Devin also has his own solo project, known (simply enough) as The Devin Townsend Band, or DTB if you�re damn lazy. Whereas SYL has basically one gear (hyperspeed) Townsend�s solo project opens up the ability to create some of the most �what the fu
ck� inducing music ever. And he does it with the utmost flair. Townsend creates some of the most phenomenal music ever, and ranks up there with the greatest composers of our generation. His music is completely original, forging deep into uncharted territories of sonic bliss (and mayhem), and it will leave you dazed for days.
Unfortunately, most people don�t like it, simply based on the fact that it�s too weird. However, hopefully, this review will change that.
The Devin Townsend Band - Synchestra
- January 31, 2006 on Inside Out Records
Devin Townsend - Vocals/Guitars
Brian Waddell - Guitars
Ryan van Poederooyen - Drums
Mike Young - Bass
Dave Young - Keyboards/Synths
Interestingly enough, nearly all of Townsend�s albums were released under a different �side project�, or so says his website. Granted, they were all written by him, but for some reason he chose to release them under different projects.
Hooray for pointless information.
Anyway, Synchestra is the latest in the epic saga of Townsend albums. Those who have listened to it christen it the greatest release of 2006, and put it up there with what many consider his greatest release yet, Terria.
Are they right? Perhaps...
At any rate, Synchestra is certainly as original as Terria. The album has so many levels it�s nigh impossible to begin to describe it. Townsend mixes metal, psychedelic, synth based parts, and a bit of almost everything else into his music to create this masterpiece. It�s absolutely stunning to listen to...there�s so many different things going on at once, it nearly overwhelms you. I�ve read somewhere that Townsend used 400+ tracks on certain points of the album. Whether that�s true or not, it certainly seems like it...it�s absolutely immense.
Those of you familiar with Strapping Young Lad, there�s a few moments on here like that (most notably Vampira...more on that later), but the majority of the album is HAPPY. Townsend, happy? It doesn�t seem right...
However, it works, and works perfectly. The album has that uplifting quality to it that will give you an instant feeling of gratification, almost, and make you run around your front yard skipping and throwing flowers at people.
Well, maybe not, but you get the idea. Happy album = good album, at least for Townsend.
The album is also like a trip...it takes you through many different environments, from the plains of Africa to an Amazonian rainforest, to the country, and plenty of other places. Townsend�s use of samples seriously make you think you�re sitting in the middle of one of these places, perfectly content with what�s going on in your life.
And, of course, since it�s Townsend, there�s no shortage of humor. I mean, who else can write a polka song, and actually have it fit into the album? Oddly enough, it works. There�s little moments of humor here and there, some of which you really have to listen for, some that are just there. Case in point: there�s a good old fashioned country breakdown in the middle of Triumph. It will knock you out of your chair laughing.
All this comes at a price though. The album is perfect in every way, basically, but it WILL take a long time to grow on you if you aren�t accustomed to Townsend already. It will overwhelm some, but those of you who stick it out and listen to the whole thing, you will find one of the greatest and most original pieces of sonic composition ever recorded.
Also, even though the disc has 14 tracks, there�s only 8 or so that are actual songs. The rest are little 2-3 minute intervals to transition between songs. That being said, the whole album feels like one big song...Townsend really knows how to blend transitions together seamlessly, to form one big musical adventure to go on.
For those of you familiar with only Strapping Young Lad, you already know how well Townsend can scream. And there�s a good amount of screaming on this album. The man can sing as well, though, and sing WELL. Great voice...so many different levels. Soothing, scathing, powerful, mellow, he does them all perfectly.
A few recommended tracks, if you want them:
- Following two instrumentals, this is the first actual song on the album. Very uplifting, very happy, full of different instruments...just one of the happiest songs you�ll ever listen to. However, this is most worth listening to for the aforementioned country breakdown in the middle. It�s a classic.
- This may be one of the most uplifting songs on the album, no joke. It�s incredibly happy, and will give you a high unlike one that any drug can produce. Per usual, mass instrumentation abound, especially the synths.
- These are actually two separate songs, but they go together. The first is a minute or so of pure polka. Hilarious, yet it�s unbelievably catchy. You will be bobbing your head to it in no time. The second, Vampira, channels mass amounts of SYL in the chorus. The song basically follows the path of Vampolka, just less polka-y and about 20 times heavier. The chorus = pure mayhem. Townsend shows his crazy side in this one.
- My personal favorite song, it�s a bit more uptempo than some of the other stuff. Also, while the distortion remains on for nearly all of the song, it never seems needlessly heavy, even with 7 string guitars. It�s got that driving sort of feel to it, pressing on through everything. Quite good.
- Now THIS is a rather odd song. It includes female vocals at one part, but this runs through all of Townsend�s emotions in one song. If you didn�t already know he was bipolar, this song confirms it. It works as well.
- So far, the best release of 2006. Original to the max, this album is akin to a sonic bath; immerse yourself into its waves of sounds, and just relax as the album soothes away all of your troubles and worries, and takes you on an epic journey. While it does require a large amount of grow time for the uninformed, Townsend fans will find this to be one of his best, and those who venture to listen to it will find it an absolutely superb imprint of a man who deserves a ton more respect. And one who should be headlining his own tour...33 minutes opening for Opeth doesn�t do him justice. :mad:
Final Rating - 9.5/10