Released 2001 on Inside Out Music.
Those playing on the album were:
Devin Townsend - Vocals, guitar, keyboards, samples and ambience
Gene Hoglan - drums
Craig McFarland - bass
Jamie Meyer - Piano, keyboards
Devin Townsend is involved in many projects, most notably this, his solo project, and Strapping Young Lad. His music is usually heavy and often loud, and that's why Terria
comes as such a surprise. It has similar themes and styles to some of his previous albums (notably Ocean Machine
, with which it shares the natural world theme of the name), but it is taken to such a far degree that it's something completely other. In places it is still crushingly heavy, but where often Devin would pile more heaviness on top of heaviness, he now has tried out using silence as part of the music, and where usually silence would be destroyed by even heavier and louder sound, he often tries either continuing the silence or trying out something quieter. The result isn't Devin's "sell-out" album by any stretch of the imagination - Terria
is vast and experimental, with many tracks full of synth and ambience, but not so much that it dominates the record, rather acting as another layer to draw the listener in. That's something you do have to do with this album - concentrate. It's not easy going or catchy (for the most part); indeed most of the tracks are hardly songs at all, just vast pieces of music (the exceptions being Earth Day
and The Fluke
, and maybe Tiny Tears
This track is likely to put a casual listener off straight away. It starts with what sounds like an old film or audio recording, and a distorted voice invites you in, and offers you...olive" It's a disconcerting way to start the album, a heavily altered voice talking to you about martinis and olives, before speaking incoherently. The first musical taste comes just as he asks "olive"", in the shape of unsettling, off-key guitar. If you make it far enough though, the last minute or so develops into a very cool (and rather heavy) little instrumental. An odd start to the album.
This track starts off with heavy instrumentation, but is soon joined by Devin's first (real) vocals of the album. They're different to lots of other vocals he has done, still loud, but not harsh; the word they bring to my head is "transcendence". The track picks up tempo with some awesome bass and drums - this album makes me envy Gene Hoglan (a very good drummer, formerly of Dark Angel and Death) for his ability to make simple drumming with acoustic guitar so very catchy, a skill which is exemplified later in Deep Peace
and especially Down and Under
- before slowing down for some piano. The heaviness of the beginning makes a return, and then the song ends with a slow fade out and a quiet guitar solo. Although there are lyrics (ending with some form of chorus in "It's just another mountain"), this is really just a 6 and a half minute workout for instruments, and it's very good.
3 Earth Day
Despite being described earlier as one of the few real songs on here, this is only barely so. It is really Terria
condensed - a huge track, heavy but with an incredible sense of melody, within which he experiments all over the place without ever losing the thread of the song. It even showcases his dark sense of humour in the lyrics, and has all his vocal styles covered - loud but clean, harsh, and powerful singing - all three make an appearance on this track at some point. There are too many excellent showcase points to illustrate here, and put together it's an incredibly memorable, and addictive, song. If I had to tell you to look out for one though, it would probably be the chanting of "peace, love, joy, hate, hell, war", ending with the wholly glorious shout of "Destructioooon!". My advice is, if you don't like this song at first, keep listening to it - it's one of the best pieces of music I've ever heard.
4 Deep Peace
This song starts off with sounds of whale song, I think, and some really cool, simple, acoustic strumming, which is soon joined by Devin's soft, singing vocals. It continues almost like a regular track :eek: for about 3 minutes, before the love of instrumental music shows through again with a long, soothing guitar workout and simple drumming. Layers of sound just keep getting added, and really make it live up to it's name. In the last minute or so, it shows a slightly darker side, as Devin's vocals turn ugly for a couple of lines, before ending on similar guitar to the first electric which appeared in the song.
Starts off straight away with another very catchy but simple instrumental combination, before being joined by Devin's vocals. There's a strange, more up-tempo section in the middle which drops the heaviness temporarily, and has some really weird vocals speaking over the top of it. I love the part when it suddenly gets heavier, with a chant of "get by, get by" in the background, and Devin starts singing "It's oil! It's wheat! It's soil! It's meat!" an so on. Despite sounding so other-wordly, the lyrics seem to be about driving home through Canada - it ends with the line "Only the lonely (and maybe John Denver) know the Canadian freeway", which I like. Another example of his odd humour.
6 Down and Under
This song is just blended right into from Canada
, so I'll blend my reviews of them together as well. Despite being just a four minute (almost) instrumental track, Down and Under
is one of my favourites on the album. It's mostly just simple strumming and drumming, with some synths brought in later I think, and it's incredibly relaxing and catchy, then for a minute and a half of louder music with some (maybe non-lyrical) chanting overlaid, before going back to the awesome pattern of before.
7 - The Fluke
This is easily the most song-like song here; at least for the first half of the track it is a fairly straightforward (and really catchy) rock/metal song, with the closest thing to a traditional riff so far on the album. The "chorus" of "Freak! Fluke!" still sounds somewhat off in terms of mental stability, and then after a relatively fast instrumental workout and a short cooling off period, the real fun starts. Non-verbal chanting sounds over the music, before some actual lyrics are sung in similar, transcendental style, which is one of the most beautiful things I've heard. The track ends with 2 minutes of various noises, which is somewhat strange.
8 Nobody's Here
This is another very good track. The gentle start is reminiscent of Deep Peace
, with what I think is whale song simulated by guitar. It's a lot slower and gentler than a lot of the really good songs on here, with piano in the background; despite sounding "nice", the lyrics aren't happy, and later on the vocals gets harsher (though we are told to "fuc
k off" when they're still gentle). There's a nice and long, slow guitar solo after this, before a repetition of the chorus.
9 Tiny Tears
In an album not exactly filled with short songs, this is the second longest (after Earth Day). Ostensibly, it's something of a love song, though for all I know there's plenty of hidden menaing to the lyrics. It's maybe a little clichéd in lyrics, but the different guitar styles used and the occasional piano in the background mean it's far from terrible.
After the melancholy of the previous song, the start of this one sounds happier and more upbeat, and I really love it. It's quicker than Tiny Tears
, has a greater variety of vocal styles (never a bad thing from Devin, as his vocals are so cool) and a good guitar solo midway through. Despte not having much to say about it, it is one of the better tracks.
(5:30) (not listed - meaning it's not on the back of my CD case, I had to check online for a name)
This sounds old - less produced than the rest of the album. It starts off with some pretty cool, jaunty bass and guitar playing, which is joined by laughing, and then some strange, 20s vocals. Then the song pretty much stops with someone saying "we should do it with vocals", before a few minutes of general noise and sound end the album. Very strange end to the album (then again, it did start with Olives
), but the start is fun. I think perhaps it would have been better to let the album end with Stagnant
So there you go. Not a perfect album, but an immense and, if you let it be, absorbing one. If you like Devin's vocals already, this is worth buying for the variety he shows, but be prepared to concentrate.