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Devin Townsend- Devlab - 90%

Robropnkr1, December 3rd, 2007

This album definitely cannot be judged as a metal album, at least not in any traditional sense. Stepping away from the typical prog-metal sound of his several other albums, Devin Towsend has created a beautiful hour or so of pure ambience, filled with strange sounds, sensations, and atmospheres.

As a fan of nearly all of Devin's previous work, I was naturally very skeptical when I heard that he was to create a "heavy-metal ambience" album. At first listen, my skepticism was proven very wrong. Imagine the combination of dark ambience, drone doom, and Devin Townsend's ridiculous imagination. That is Devlab in a nutshell. It is definitely a new step for this project and clearly displays the production skills that this man has.

The album opens with some background ambience and then moves into a strange soundscape, with added sounds of awful drumming and strange-sounding voices throughout. The strange atmosphere continues for quite sometime, with the ambience gaining more and more dynamic as time progresses. Endless reverberations and echoes of unheard notes are also heard, coming from all sides, adding to the dark cavernous feeling that this album is meant to portray.

The first few songs, all untitled, continue with the same basic idea, never changing, constantly droning. A real sense of openness is felt throughout as a result of the spacey, dark atmosphere. The ambience, hidden obscurely by strange, unknown forefront sounds, eventually becomes superceding, and the random noise and occasional guitar pluck become background noise. The album eventually ends with near silence. Overall it is a very abstract experience of sound, and VERY atypical of all of Devin Townsend’s previous renowned work.

There a few choices that Devin made with this album that I definitely enjoyed. First off, the fact that all tracks are untitled and flow directly into each other; If I were to make an album comprised of complete and total ambience, I believe that it would be a good choice to take attention away from the idea of a “song”, and rather just let the music speak for itself. Secondly, the fact that the album never seems to change pitch or even dynamic to any extreme; this adds to the obnoxious droning made famous bands such as Earth or Sunn O))). This element can either add to or take away from a collection of tracks, and in the case of Devlab, it definitely works for an improvement.

In conclusion, I will say that I would suggest this album to anyone who has a knack for keeping an open mind and is willing to accept a deviation from the normal Devin sound. There are quite a few very strange moments within the duration of Devlab, but there are also many beautiful and abstract ones. Definitely worth at least a passing listen.