Review Summary: Woah, good lord it's a Cheeseburger! A double! BEER! BEER! BEER!
If you're new to Devin Townsend, or even if you've been a fan for years, in a way, you could say that Deconstruction
is the perfect summary of his works. That is, his early works. As Devin put it himself, Deconstruction feels like the album he had
to make, whereas Ghost feels like the album he wants
to make, and should
be making. Well, that doesn't seem to be without cause - if you listen to Deconstruction
you'll notice that everything he's ever done seems to have led directly to this point and fed into this whale of an album.
carries with it the seriously, head-crushingly heavy music that the world came to know and, in some cases, love when Devin first fronted Strapping Young Lad and released 1995's Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing
. Devin pounds out the semi-industrial, relentless sound that was eager to lend itself as the anthem flags bearing the so-called "big middle finger" could be waved to time and again. From this vantage, it's City
with a little more melody and a little less cynicism. It's Alien
, but drawing its inspiration from Devin's introspective on his career, rather than self-torture inflicted by going off of his bi-polar medication to appease the fans.
But that's just the beginning. Deconstruction
also pulls in plenty of Devin's solo work - "Stand" draws heavily on the rhythm of Ki's
"Gato," while "Sumeria," appropriately pulls the line "Love, love me…love, love me...LOVE, LOVE ME! LOVE!!" and its rhythm from Terria's
"Earth Day," aptly echoing the line "Hate, love, love, hate, love, hate...destruction!" There are Ziltoid influences all over, and perhaps rightly so, since that album was once intended to do what Devin has accomplished on Deconstruction
- be the ultimate autobiographical piece. Of course there's more (namely an overt nugget derived from Addicted's
"Awake!"), but that's part of the majesty of Deconstruction
. It's like watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie and waiting for the iconic "I'll be back." The anticipation is half the fun.
So where's the originality, if this is a composite of everything Devin to date? The answer is simple:
It's everywhere. This album merely draws
on past experiences and brings them into the limelight. Something HevyDevy, himself, calls "accountability" as a creative artist - taking the elements he'd incorporated in works before, polishing them up, and making them into something bigger he says he'd always intended for them. And, oh, does it show. Even in stripping down the album - deconstructing it, in a sense - you can see the layers and layers of emotion, passion, and raw self that Devin has poured into it.
Pull away the bright, golden layer of choirs chanting "All beef patties, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun." Pull out the electronic sounds of hammers banging on pipes, of bleeps and bloops heard at the heart of Ziltoid's omnidimensional spacecraft; the gourd sounds of a rising ocean. Stripping away the menagerie of the "who's who in metal" guest vocalists isn't quite so simple. Unfortunately, powerhouses like Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth maintain only small parts in the scheme of things (an almost inaudible role in "Stand," in Mikael's case) and are easily missed or forgotten, while others, such as the growling force of Gojira vocalist Joe Duplantier throughout Sumeria
, Paul Masvidal of Cynic's wonderful conclusion to the same song, or Floor Jansen's haunting performance on "Pandemic" feel much more essential. Nevertheless, if you peel away the guest vocalists, first starting with the less prominent and then moving to even the most outstanding, you'll have your standard Devin Townsend album - penis jokes and all. And at the very core, the excellence contained therein is what makes it a great album.
But all of that is
what makes Deconstruction
its own beast. As Devin put it - it's everything including
the kitchen sink. The album is literally crammed with layer after layer of sound, from the aforementioned bonuses to Devin's vocals, roughly at least one guest vocalist per track on top of the choir, two different drummers (both excellent, and in some cases, such as the massive "Pandemic," rivaling the skills of ex-Strapping member and master drummer Gene Hoglan), Devin's insane guitar and bass work, some distinct keyboard and synth lines, and even a guest spot from Meshuggah guitarist Fredrik Thordendal. So much so that it creates almost a sort of musical overload - to the point where the spastic lyrics to "Deconstruction" almost start to make sense.
Heavier than anything Devin's done since City
and more stacked with musical layers than anything he's done since his now flowering fascination with ProTools, Deconstruction
certainly delivers what it promises - layer after layer of Devin to remove, dissect, and analyze. Or, if you're willing enough to let it be, a confused and frightened journey through the equally confused and frightened mind of one of metal's greatest that can only arrive at one logical point. Ghost
Praise the Lowered