Review Summary: If you're looking for HevyDevy, this isn't him. He's gone somewhere else. This is Devin Townsend. And maybe he's just a ghost, but he's re-substantiating himself in the most beautiful way.
Have you ever been to a metal show? I'm not talking a one-off gig where two or three bands perform for your evening entertainment, I'm talking a full day thing like the first two Gigantours or Ozzfest. Something that just rips your skull apart with the sharpest, shiniest claws available, and on the way back home the last ***ing thing you want to hear is another metal album? You'll dig and dig and dig until you can find something with enough soft rock to soothe your ears, rock your passengers to sleep, and keep that pounding headbanging headache at bay. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the festival you've just been to is a little thing called Deconstruction
, and not only have you found the remedy CD, Ghost
, but before you can even peel out of the parking lot, it's knocked you off to dream land with its lush, healing lullabies.
It's for this reason that classifying Ghost
as Metal in the slightest is a major typographical error. In fact, it hardly qualifies as rock. Some will call it new age, some will call it soft rock, but it's kind of a subtle soft ambient folk soundscape sound. Convoluted, perhaps? Far moreso than the sound itself. Regardless of labels, its true nature is a cool-off from the madness of predecessor Deconstruction
. According to Devin Townsend, the two albums are meant to be experienced together, and that without Ghost
is out of context. And from here we can see it's vice versa. The two are yin and yang; both polar opposites of one another: Deconstruction
, rife with layer upon layer of dense, synthetic, metal chaos; Ghost
, a mellow breeze of soft, organic instrumentation. The closest Ghost
ever gets to "aggressive" is "Blackberry," and that's a mellow, lazy river flow, banjo-driven rendition of Ki's
"Trainfire" from even the most skewed perspective.
The first thing to note should be that, unlike most other Devin Townsend albums, flute and keyboards are the primary driving instruments on this album, with acoustic guitar only occasionally taking a leading role, and drums being equated more to ambient percussion on this album. For a man known in a genre where the bass is all too often mixed out almost entirely, it's worth noting that the bass on this album is rich and full, creating an ambiance all its own that does a great deal to steer the album onwards.
seemed unconvincing or insincere, it's possible that Ghost
comes across as one of the most honest efforts made in music today. It's not quite the same raw energy of Devin bearing his soul as on Ocean Machine
, but that's not the person he is today. Devin Townsend is a much more open and self-aware entity these days, and his soul's been borne before the world time and time again. This is him coming to acceptance with a desire to lay off the metal and create something new. Something he might be worried and anxious about, but something that's true to his own direction as an artist and a testament to who he is today as opposed to who he was in the days where Ocean Machine
was an escape from Strapping Young Lad. The spirit's the same, but the message is different. Deconstruction
, from the perspective of Ghost
becomes a massive exorcism of metal demons that have plagued Devin and kept him from Ghost
, while Ghost
itself becomes, well, just what you'd expect. A sigh of relief.
And the vocals seem to mirror that sigh - Devin's voice never slides into the growl that dominates most of Deconstruction
, but instead remains in the warm, high tone that can be heard on tracks such as Ki's
"Terminal" - warm, rich, full, yet subdued without being restrained. Not only that, but he has found a glorious partner in vocalist Katrina Natale, who he harmonizes beautifully throughout, but perhaps most notably on the stunning title track.
But more than simply the sum of its parts, Ghost
is like an ocean current - you're meant only to relax into it and let it sweep you away to where you're ready to go. The pretenses here are slim and the music is all arranged peacefully and dreamily with nothing becoming overbearing, repetitious, or boring. Simply, it's like riding digital waves, pushed on by the voices of Devin Townsend, Katrina Natale, and the woodwinds throughout. You're only as in for the journey as you let yourself be, but it's a peaceful and enlightening one. Hopefully you'll come aboard.