Album Review: Epicloud by Devin Townsend Project
Posted by RiffRaff
Some years ago Devin Townsend found himself at a crossroads in life which led to him kicking a drug abuse habit. The newfound, sober Devin took to his passion of music to fill the space where drugs had once impacted his life and one could say he is now hooked on a new drug, writing music. Since he cleaned up his act the rate at which he has been releasing albums is astounding. In less than a year, his latest album, Epicloud, makes his 3rd full length release within a 365 day period. Even crazier, each of these 3 albums (the other 2 being Deconstruction and Ghost) is a completely different listen than just about anything in the man’s massive musical repertoire. It seems that Devin can write quality music for just about every genre of music, but has quite a soft spot for pop music. Songs like “Christeen” and the album Addicted definitely show this, and Epicloud is Devin’s biggest love song to pop music, all with that classic Devin Townsend metallic twist.
There are 3 big themes Epicloud makes no qualms to boast. As the title would suggest, big and epic music that is pretty damn loud is strewn throughout the record. Full Baptist choirs, the return of Anneke van Giersbergen, symphonies, exaggerated music, and the driving heavy metal energy keep the album moving at a breakneck pace for most of its run time. The other big theme is introduced quite immediately with the first song proper, “True North” as Anneke and Devin sing the lines “I love you. I need you. I’ll always be around you.” Before long it becomes apparent that Devin is in love with just about everything. Usually super sappy love songs are a big turn off to me, but Devin puts so much energy and feeling into both the words and music that you really can’t feel that he is being genuine.
While there are huge arrangements almost always at play, Devin shows restraint keeping the overall sound everything nice and simple. He never goes overboard with choirs and symphonies and keeps things rather tame, much like a big pop release. Unlike those heartless pop albums, his restraint actually adds a lot to the music letting them make a much larger impact when he does use them and letting the general catchiness of the songs be the big carrier of flow. Most of the tunes on Epicloud have quite high energy, but on a few occasions Devin turns the speed dial down and inserts a handful of nice, laid back tunes. Songs like “Where We Belong” and “Divine” have that nice ‘hold your lighters in the air’ feel and “Hold On” and “Angel” will make you feel like you’re flying through the sky hand in hand with your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. There’s just some kind of magic to these tunes, I seriously can’t stop listening to “Hold On”. Simple, beautiful stuff that doesn’t have to rely on cheese tactics to get and hold my attention.
While the metal side of Devin may not be at the forefront on this record it is still there. Between his classic crooning style singing and ethereal clean vocals, Devin still unleashes the metal beast with his powerful rough vocals from time to time accentuating occasion bouts of furious drumming and pounding guitars. No song features solely metal characteristics as he uses them to just give a nice shot of adrenaline when needed. And while that pop sound is the heart of the L.P. there is a dearth of diversity throughout. Lead single “Lucky Animals” is definitely akin to a dance club booty-shaker and on the flip-side, while retaining dancability, “Save Our Now” is a nice sweet tune that sounds like it would be right at home at a high school dance. Each song has its own character and accompanying imagery whether it be delivered by a crushing metal section or sweet acoustic passage.
Epicloud is a nice and refreshing listen midst all the metal that passes through my ears on a daily basis. Having both simple songs with big, complex sounds make it nice and easy to listen to and shame-free pop style makes rocking out to the record a ton of fun. The mellower songs are some of the better love songs I’ve heard in a long time and may even score you some points with your significant other if they happen to not be the biggest of metal fans. Those who are the troo-est and kvlt-est of metalhead may be turned off quickly by the poppy nature of this record, but if you’re curious as to what good quality pop music sounds like do give Epicloud a listen. If you’re already an established ‘Dev-head’ and really got a kick out of albums like Addicted you probably have give up on musical inhibitions long ago and I’m sure you will enjoy yet another addition into you Devin Townsend collection. In short, don’t dismiss Epicloud because of its simplicity or pop sound, underneath is a collection of some lovely songs. Peace Love and Metal!!!!
P.S. The Special Edition comes included with a second disc called Epiclouder and is well worth dropping a couple bucks more into the album for it. It includes 10 demo tracks which are full and completed songs (almost, if I wasn’t informed, I wouldn’t have completely noticed) that barely didn’t make the cut on the final product. While not exactly a double album, this disk is almost like adding a whole other album to Epicloud and has a ton of quality music on it.