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All right, understand that I’m a HUGE Devin Townsend fan. Ocean Machine is one of my favorite albums, and in my opinion his output as The Devin Townsend Band is up there with the greatest as well. However, this to me is like the ugly duckling of his collection. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t find myself enjoying this as much as his other albums on the account of the songs themselves.
The atmosphere is huge, like the white light at end of the movie Cube (if only most knew what really went on in that white light). The production makes this album sound much like a dream sequence; as if we’re stuck in Devin’s mind while his personal thoughts and inner demons are flying around. Every track sounds powerful, heavy, and full of life. However, it also sounds convoluted, seriously inconsistent, and sometimes not even that good. I understand where many people may see this as a masterpiece, but I can’t see myself enjoying the whole of this album.
“Ants” itself is just a cacophonous wreck that amounts to nothing, thankfully only lasting a couple minutes. Very superb instrumentation, but as a song, it’s just unbearable to listen to; true to the nature and theme of the album as Devin faces his inner feelings, though. “Colonial Boy” right after it I found unmemorable, too. It has a very traditional tune to it, but I felt myself skipping it every time for its lack of quality (sounds more like ideas in a mixed bag). “Soul Driven Cadillac” again just sounds like filler for the sake of the overall theme – a nasty stain on a journey through Devin’s thoughts. Again, these tracks make up the whole picture, but in their own right they just don’t stand very well as single tracks.
“Bad Devil,” while jazzy and interesting, just didn’t cut it for me. I don’t know, it just sounds like it’s on the wrong album, sounding more like something from Synchestra, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s a fun track, but again I personally didn’t enjoy it as much as other listeners.
The reason why this album still retains a positive score is due to the signature production style, atmosphere, and guitar tone. The drums are unyielding and persistent as ever, but even though they’re loud, too, they just don’t shine over the ambiance. The guitars still sound epic and loving as ever, maybe even better than most albums. The riffs themselves aren’t anything special, but the way they go in from one ear and out the other is just majestic. It’s what gives the album its fluffy, flying-through-the-clouds-like-Mario feel. It’s clear, crispy, and accompanied by Devin’s recognizable vocal style, makes other hits like “Christeen,” “War,” and “Dynamics” the tracks of choice. The clear, child-like, tranquil vocal work of Townsend are, in itself, dreamlike. His screaming / yelling is emotional on it’s own, but it’s the clean ones that make you shed a tear as he spills his personal feelings all over the scene.
Hard to really pin my finger on this one; I enjoy it, but I don’t really count it as anything special when compared to his debut and others such as Terria or Accelerated Evolution. Don’t let this review get the best of you and make you avoid this piece. Just look at it as an honest opinion by a fan.