The Noob’s Guide to Devin Townsend, Part 2!
Howdy my fellow turlet dwellers! Jimmy McNulty and I are here with the second installment of The Noob’s Guide to Devin Townsend! Previously, McNulty took you through the discography of Strapping Young. Today, we divided up Devin’s solo efforts and will address each album with our own take. Although much of Devin’s work is solely created by him, the albums covered today are strictly under the moniker of “Devin Townsend”. Lets get started!
1996 Punky Brüster Cooked on Phonics
(GL) Although most of you will dismiss Punky Brüster immediately, I invite you to hang around for a least ONE song. That song is Ez$$$. I believe the core behind this record laid strictly in his distaste for the music industry (not a totally new concept). Lyrics include “It took two minutes, to piece these three lame riffs together. It it’s the same crap that’s selling loads”. Original, I know! But, the interesting thing behind this statement is that Devin has stated in a recent interview that his work in SYL “was emotionally really unhealthy for me because it’s foundation was rooted in apathy and anger.” Why is thing important? Be sure to stick around for our third and final installment of this series!
(JJM) This one hits home for me. At the time it was released I was under the impression that SYL was finished. I kept listening to this album thinking, “This is NOT Devin!” But it is… as I would later come to grasp. The aggression was mostly gone but the heavy melodic riffs were still present. This album is Devin finding himself as a solo artist: layering tons of guitars and taking total control over a variety of vocal styles. You’ll find melodic yet melancholic tracks (Seventh Wave, Funeral , Bastard) interspersed with up-beat, hard rock tracks (Life, Hide Nowhere, Voices In the Fan), and a few absolute surprises: acoustic with hints of electronica in “The Death of Music” and “Things Beyond Things”. Son of a gun, I’d like to link the entire album to you folks, as it’s so perfect; but I cannot… instead I will leave you with an absolute monster of a progressive metal song, “Bastard/Not One of the Better Days”:
(GL) This 1998 album was released before I had any interest in his career (cuz I was in 5th grade!). Regardless, Devin is true to form: amazing. There are a number of gems in this album ranging in typical spastic Devy in Ants, to down right rock and roll fun in Bad Devil. Highlights in this album include very pre-Casualties of Cool esque Noisy Pink Bubbles and Christeen. Overall the album is very thematically well rounded. There is enough interesting content for even the most casual of listener. Give it a try!
(JJM) I truly wonder if Devin feared losing his SYL fanbase, and therefore created the closest album he possibly could to his previous band with Physicst. It’s a thrashy, industrial effort with a minimal amount of his newly-discovered melodic tendencies. Though there are blast beats, keyboards, and a giant amount of screams, it’s not as angry or as violent as SYL. Perfect examples include Kingdom and Jupiter, each of which could easily satisfy 7 out of 10 SYL fans. And I simply must give Devin credit for one of the best compositions of his entire career: Planet Rain. It’s an 11-minute masterpiece which perfectly combines the fury of SYL and the melodicism of his solo material. Please give it a listen HERE.
(GL) I feel like this is one of Devin’s best albums with regard to production. Often the sonic landscape of his tunes is so jam-packed that listening often requires many attempts. Here, Terria flows effortlessly from start to end and I feel like he is truly in his element: no satire, no alien jokes, and no quirky lyrics about “Shitstorms”. Highlights of this album are difficult to pinpoint due the awesomeness of most tracks. The best place to start with is Deep Peace and Canada. For the money shot listen to Nobody’s Here! Although my education days are done, this is perfect soundtrack to working or studying.
(JJM) Devin Townsend doesn’t hide the fact that he’s a troll; one or two tracks of silly bullshit is understandable, but an entire album? Goofy samples and snippets of dialogue over forgettable ambient, white noise. Skip it, flush it, I can’t imagine who would enjoy such a joke. *GL: agreed! its terrible!*
(GL) Anyone here like ambient noise that is actually listenable (BLAOW BLAOW SHOTS FIRED!)? Well get in here! I was not very familiar with this album prior to my write up but I’ve become quite enamoreed with a one song in particular: The Abaqus. Coming in a 8 minutes this track is the cat’s-ass from start to finish. A perfect build and a flawless end. Although this song is quite beautiful, the album as a whole is difficult to get attached to due to the endless shifting from one “noise riff” section to another. Is the album terrible? No. Would it likely be a better listen while tripping on shrooms in a pitch black room? Possibly.
2007 Ziltoid I: The Omniscient
(JJM) Many a Devin fan consider this to be his best material; and though I don’t agree I’m okay with that assessment! This is a very well-crafted metal opera with a variety of song lengths and appropriately-placed dialogue. It’s a great balance of heavy and melodic; everything flows together extremely well. The album does a fantastic job of telling the story of an alien who invades Earth in search of the prefect cup of coffee (don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything!). With this album, Devin starts to recycle a few elements from previous efforts. You’ll hear little easter eggs from songs off of SYL’s “Alien” his solo Ocean Machine: Biomech. Side note: he’ll later re-interpret the wonderfully catchy Hyperdrive on a later album entitled Addicted (with stunning female vocals included). This album is best enjoyed front-to-back, so the only other track that I really want to link to is The Greys because it does a good job of standing alone and could have EASILY fit in with his masterpiece Ocean Machine: Biomech.
(GL) With all the love for Devin in this seemingly endless circle jerk, Ziltoid II is where Devin loses me. I just do not get the Ziltoid thing. The album is with odd puppet dialogue but there is at least one gem inside: March of the Poozers. Silly title aside, this song is straight boss! If you don’t get the Ziltoid mania and still want to give this a shot, I would try to focus solely on the music.
Thats it folks! In our next and final installment of The Noob’s Guide To Devin Townsend I will be tackling music created under the umbrella of The Devin Townsend Project. Stay tuned!
GL and JJM