Devin Townsend Project
Transcendence


3.0
good

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
September 9th, 2016 | 381 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Devin Townsend Project has outlasted its purpose.

The Devin Townsend Project has outlasted its purpose.

Originally conceived with 2009's Ki as the vehicle for Devin to compose and release a quartet of albums that veer off the trail blazed by his solo career (while still being a part of his broader solo catalog), The Devin Townsend Project has largely hit a period of creative stagnation following 2011's dual release of Deconstruction and Ghost. Both were key achievements in Townsend's career - Ghost experimented with airy, flowing new age and ambient composition, while Deconstruction was an indulgently massive culmination of everything HevyDevy. But Epicloud (the first album released outside of the original quartet) was a soulless derivative of Addicted - the Project's wildly enjoyable foray into hybridizing pop and metal featuring Anneke Van Giersbergen as a key vocal contributor. Follow-up Z2 split reps between a more palatable and interesting continuation of the pop metal brand on its Sky Blue disc and delved into a forgettable and overly dramatic encore to Ziltoid The Omniscient.

While both Z2 discs were enjoyable, neither opened up a new or interesting dynamic the way the original quartet had. To further things, Devin's ambient space-country project Casualties of Cool (with Che Aimee Dorval, previously a key collaborator on Ki) did have that "it" factor that stretched boundaries and carved out a new niche, making it apparent that the grand experimentation Devin had planned for "The Devin Townsend Project" has moved elsewhere following 2011. Now "The Devin Townsend Project" has simply become synonymous with creating lite prog metal fare with Anneke, Dave Young (guitar), Ryan Van Poederooyen (drums), and Brian Waddell (bass). And though its name vows otherwise, Transcendence does nothing to buck the trend of pop-sprinkled prog metal.

For some, this won't be a problem. There's a definite appeal to the interplay between Devin and Anneke's voices that's undeniably suited to this style of music, but it's difficult for me not to hold that style and this brand accountable to the standard set by Addicted. And while the similarities between the two albums are apparent, the differences are crucial. The tempos in Addicted really kept it going at a dancable pace, while Transcendence slogs and slows more than it bops and rolls. Addicted was also a much more straightforward album from a songwriting perspective: tracks flowed as expected, counter to the many misdirects heard on a track like "Higher," which speeds, slows, stops, chants, chugs, and sings as it pleases. That's not to say that track (or others following similar designs) aren't interesting, but for all of its expanded runtime (Transcendence runs a whopping 64 minutes compared to Addicted's concise 46 and change), the track doesn't deliver the same punch, poignancy, and epic scale over nearly 10 minutes as "Supercrush!" did in nearly half the time.

The bloat of Transcendence seems to be a problem inherent to post-2011 DTP, and appears to be symptomatic of a group trying to deviate around a winning formula of the past rather than one keen on developing the innovation they were built to achieve. It's unfortunate, but my honest assessment would be that, in a year's time, I won't remember much from this record except for "Failure" (which bears the grandiose heft of a track from Deconstruction), the solo and chorus in "Secret Sciences," "Truth" (mostly because it kicks off sounding like a track from Ocean Machine and ends like it's heralding in Ghost) and some of "Stormbending." And maybe "Offer Your Light" - one of the few tracks to really dial up the tempo on the record and offer the listener some electricity with its squeal-y synth melodies contrasting crisp, rapid guitar rhythms. Unsurprisingly, while it's one of the album's most effective tracks, it's also its shortest and most focused - clocking in at just under 4 minutes and playing more or less straight ahead when compared to tracks based around constant change-ups like "Higher."

Other than that, while I can appreciate the compositional and technical work on the album, it doesn't do whole lot for me. In 2012 I criticized Epicloud for being a pop metal album a la Addicted, but without the same soul. Unfortunately, much of the same can be said about Transcendence, but with the pop-metal balance shifted drastically more towards the metal and progressive influences Devin Townsend and his Project carry with them into the studio. And, just to be clear: the pop is much more an afterthought here when compared to those other two albums, but the sentiment is the same.

The Devin Townsend Project will likely continue to experiment with the abilities of its current lineup, generating music within familiar parameters every few years. I'd say this concerns me as a fan of Devin's musical experimentation, but with Casualties of Cool still looming large in the rear-view mirror, it seems likely that Devin will continue to find a venue for new concepts, even if The Devin Townsend Project isn't that place anymore.



Recent reviews by this author
Metallica The Unnamed FeelingDisperse Foreword
Enemies ValuablesPeriphery Periphery III: Select Difficulty
Orbs Past Life RegressionDeadlock Hybris
user ratings (357)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Chamberbelain (4)
A refreshing balance between old and new....



Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Moderator
September 9th 2016


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I love Dev, but I just don't dig the direction the Project has taken since Ghost.



Loads of people will dig this, I'm sure (rating is already telling).

Digging: Benjamin Clementine - I Tell A Fly

Toondude10
September 9th 2016


11723 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Heathen! Thou must burn at the stake!

Digging: Machine Head - The Blackening

Valkoor952
September 9th 2016


1975 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This is a 3.5-4.

I'm not sure yet.

thumbcrusher
September 9th 2016


3753 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Tbh at the moment at least I agree with the review. Offer Your Light is an absolute jam but as a whole it suffers a lot from the same problems that were on Epicloud and Z2. Decent songs but the production takes the personality out of Dev's voice while smothering and taking the life out of the instrumentation too.

Gmork89
September 9th 2016


7374 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh man a 3? Good review though, I disagree with pretty much all of it but it's written very well. It's almost like I heard a completely different album.

Toondude10
September 9th 2016


11723 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i don't think he's listened to the second disc yet

Gmork89
September 9th 2016


7374 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I haven't either, is it good??

Toondude10
September 9th 2016


11723 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

it's awesome, it's on Spotify when you get the chance. Lexus is sooooo good.

BenThatsMyJamin
September 9th 2016


1273 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a very solid 4

Gmork89
September 9th 2016


7374 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed Ben, hard 4.

thumbcrusher
September 9th 2016


3753 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The bonus disc is really cool yeah but I think that's partly down to the songs being more stripped down, I just wish the main album had more moments like that. Idk, I think the album is good albeit with things holding it back, maybe it'll grow, Sky Blue did.



The Truth rerecording doesn't make sense to me though, the version on Infinity is far better for me.

BenThatsMyJamin
September 9th 2016


1273 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"The Truth rerecording doesn't make sense to me though, the version on Infinity is far better for me"



Something I do agree with, hard

Dizchu
September 9th 2016


264 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review though I strongly disagree. I don't think this has much in common with Addicted, to me it sounds more like a metal version of Ghost.

Gmork89
September 9th 2016


7374 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Truth to me is a great opener because its his old style you're familiar with, through the DTP filter. Which is what this album is all about.

torts
September 9th 2016


4300 Comments


The Devin Townsend Project has outlasted its purpose. [2637483927494846]

fuck this awful band and fuck townsends greasy ass forever


Gmork89
September 9th 2016


7374 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Torts it's gonna be okay bruh

MikeC26
September 9th 2016


3373 Comments


Had some real high hopes after failure. Gonna jam this after work. Hopefully it doesn't completely stink.

AtomicWaste
Moderator
September 9th 2016


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I mean, it's a 3, not a 1. It's just not memorable or particularly innovative. A lot of people said the same good things about the bonus disc for Epicloud fwiw, which is a little ironic to me.

smaugman
September 9th 2016


4488 Comments


atomicwaste, how come users can't rate albums 3.1/4.4 etc?

Gmork89
September 9th 2016


7374 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You should have high hopes Mike, it's damn good.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy