The Devin Townsend Project – Addicted (2010) Review
That’s right, kiddies! The mad Canadian mastermind behind Strapping Young Lad is back again to deliver more unique metal to our longing ears. This is his second outing with the Devin Townsend Project after disbanding The Devin Townsend Band and Strapping Young Lad to pursue his personal musical goals, free from the chaos of drugs and drink. Addicted is a peculier one as it tries to harmonise the crushing riffs expected from Mr. Townsend with, dare I say it, pop-like synthesisers. However, it becomes clear that this infusion has worked incredibly well; behold dance metal!
Addicted starts with the befitting song known as “Addicted!”. The instruments begin to swell in as almost immediately we are confronted by the opening riff, it has the definitive “ballsy” sound expected from a Townsend production but is not a million-miles an hour attack on your senses. The drums then ensue, making you inadvertently bob your head, drawing you in to security before Devin lets off a trademark scream, stopping you dead in your tracks. The first two songs of this CD are surprisingly harsh and industrial in nature when compared to the later ones. “Universe In A Ball” gives an immensely filthy and modern groove to move to as Devin unleashes his true “in-your-face” and fairly monstrous extreme vocals over the top, screaming and howling about something admittedly bizarre. This is what I would consider the first ‘phase’ of the album.
The next two songs are definitely the most catchy and are much less aggressive than the two that preceded them. In fact, “Bend It Like A Bender!” sounds like a fusion of metal and J-Pop as the guitars are ingeniusly basic and friendly, flowing so excellently with the drum beat. Devin’s vocals start to gain hooks and lyrics become more chantable, this won’t feel out of place in a nightclub for sure. The drums slam down as our leading lady is properly introduced, Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering). Her angelic voice throws the song in to a soaring chorus that will have you at least tapping to the beat! Next is “Supercrush!” that begins with a chugging riff and brutal snares, when Anneke’s voice morphs this section suitable for Strapping in to an uplifting and swaying experience. The instruments kick in full-swing as the riff is sent in to hyperspace, the scope becomes truly epic; more akin to power metal, strangely. Suddenly the song breaksdown and we’re left with the thumping of the bass and the lulling feel of Anneke. This then coils up in to another explosion with Devin’s cleans! Huzzah! His voice sounds as if he’s calling out from the top of a cliff with this massive scope!
Next is a cover from Devin Townsend’s Ziltoid album called “Hyperdrive!”. To me, this seems more like filler, it acts more like transport towards the next phase of the album. Yet that’s not to say it doesn’t fit the album, far from it. This song is still unrelentlessly catchy but has a slightly more sombre feel to it, not a full-on attack the other songs have been.
“Resolve!” is the mark of the peak of energy for this album, the point where metal and pop are almost perfectly entwined, in my opinion. Anneke gains much more attitude and soaring vocals than the last songs and is on top of her game for this supernova of thrashing and arm-pumping. One can almost imagine Devin skulking around Anneke as he chugs on his guitar, and diving around a stage as fireworks dance in the background. For me, this is the magnum opus of this album and demonstrates how Devin’s skull-crushing and Anneke’s soaring can be so harmonious.
From here on out the album begins to cushion and soothe your brow. It knows you’ve performed many embarrassing antics to these diabolically catchy songs and now lies you down to rest with a ballad called “Ih-Ah!”. This is where Devin bears his musical prowess, a ballad that is entirely radio friendly and appealling to the masses. The set-up is so simple and yet so cosmically charming that it is hard to put in to words. I dare say it’s in the same vein as many alternative rock acts today. This song is uncanny in its appeal, I usually hate alternative rock but this song has shown that simple love ballads are not dead.
Metal has almost entirely receded as the crushing riffs are nowhere to be seen. We’re on “The Way Home!”, people but do not fret! Devin more than compensates for that aggression and power with his own incredible pipes. He manages to be soft and endearing in one second and right in your face, operatically projecting himself the next.
Whoa! Where did that chunky metal come from?! That’s right, it’s back for the song “Numbered!”. I personally believe this to be the conclusion of the album, the elements of pop and metal all cycle around in a whirlwind of destruction and dismay. Anneke is burdened with the end as she sings the line “We are numbered”. The guitars constantly switch between the dancy hooks of “Bend It Like A Bender!” and the offence of “Addicted!”. The drums collide and switch between simple beats and aggressive slams. Devin is contending with himself, between the industrial dominance of the first tracks and the endearing feel of “The Way Home!”. Strangely, this song gives all other songs some sort of story.
“Awake!!” must be the celebration of new life (I mean, TWO exclamation marks!) and rebirth. Not only that, but it celebrates what the listener has just experienced! It highlights the uplifting lyrics but also the monstrous underside. Furthermore it appears to be a demo of Devin’s new album, with the constant uttering of the word “Deconstruct!”. Very subtle.
This was my first outing in to the Devin Townsend world and I am truly dumbfounded by what the man can accomplish with different genres. I’m certainly not a fan of pop whatsoever, but Devin gives it soul and passion that just is not seen in mainstream music. Without a doubt, one of the most successful metal fusion albums I’ve ever heard and I would highly recommend it for any metal head wanting to try something a little different.