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Devin Townsend is an artist known for his strange, yet undeniably original and unique music. 'Terria' is no exception. However, it's full beauty did not reveal itself to me until after a good many listens.
At first listen, one may be puzzled by the overtracked recording, surreal lyrics, and incredibly anti- commercial approach to myself. Townsend defies many conventions, and alot of the songwriting may seem 'odd' or anti-climactic to one that isn't used to it. However, as the sounds become more familiar, it starts to wash over you, and the true magic of 'Terria' unfolds.
'Terria' has such a magic power about it, bestowing upon the artist the power to transport you wherever he wants you to go. A very earth-based album (much alike Synchestra) there are many recurring themes of nature wound around the music. Possibly the most defining quality of Terria, and Devin Townsend's music (in my opinion) is his unparelleled recording technique. With the incredibly dense overdubs, there is a 'noisy' quality to it that contributes greatly to the 'organic' quality of the album.
'Terria' is one of the most powerful musical journies I've ever been on, and anyone willing to take a leap of faith and listen to something a bit 'out there' is more than recommended to try out this masterpiece. A top five record for me.
This album is much more abstract and relaxed than much of Devin Townsend’s other solo work, and as a result needs to be approached somewhat differently. Many of my hang-ups with this record stem from the fact that I kept trying to approach this album as a collection of songs, which, in comparison to the majority of Devin’s other records, this is not. This album is much more a mood piece, a largely ambient and consistently-paced exercise in atmosphere.
Now, by calling this ‘ambient’, I don’t mean that it’s all floaty keyboards and nature sounds. In fact, the heavy metal instrumentation and wall-of-sound production from Devin’s other work remains on display here as always; it’s just that those elements are combined in such a way as to produce an hour-long meditation on the themes of home and place.
Things get off to an odd start with the opening duo of “Olives” and “Mountain.” I’m not exactly sure why Devin offer me a martini by way of opening the record, but hell, why not? I’ll take mine dry as a Mormon, with a twist of prog, if you don’t mind. “Mountain” still feels more like an introduction than a proper song, as it’s mostly instrumental with some bizarre sampled stuff in the background. But have no fear: when “Earth Day” finally kicks in, it’s got absolutely all of the cinematic grandeur and blustery metal melodrama we’ve come to love and expect from Devin.
Unfortunately, this album has one major drawback. The production has a very odd quirk to it which I find rather difficult to ignore. Something about how the drums are mixed seems to make the sound levels of the other instruments fluctuate, such that when the drums are hit, the sound level of other instruments falls sharply into the background, then reemerges at the normal level when the drums are on off-beats. It’s unpleasant to my ears, because when the levels dip, I automatically try to follow more intently what’s going on, but the levels are back up on the very next beat. It’s off-putting, and casts an unfortunate shadow on the album.
Still, when that chorus to “Earth Day” swings around, it’s hard not to crack a huge idiot grin. Devin consistently manages to combine exceedingly earnest melodies with somewhat off-the-wall lyrical content (“Eat your beets / Recycle, recycle”), so that for every quirk which pushes me away from this album, there’s always another hook waiting to pull me back in. As I’ve said, the album gravitates toward a slow, deliberate groove, and one can’t help but get the impression that its title, "Terria," is meant as a sort of reflection on the notion of home – but whether that home is Canada, Earth, or the universe at large remains an open question.
The album never gets particularly heavy, but this is more an observation than a criticism. The drums are well-matched to the laid-back tone of most of the songs, although it does seem that the prodigious talents of a certain Mr. Gene Fucking Hoglan are being put to ill use. In a strange way, this album’s relatively even-handed tone and deliberate pacing are the very attributes which make it a somewhat avant-garde entry into Devin Townsend’s discography. The instrumental track “Down and Under” is really one of the only places where I feel the character of the fretless bass, which is a shame. It seems like the album could have taken advantage of the note-bending and glissando possibilities of the fretless instrument.
Another notable aspect of the album is that Devin appears to have gone a bit sampler-happy. This is especially true on “Deep Peace,” which overlays some incredibly live-sounding plugged-in acoustic strumming with everyone’s favorite new age signifier, whale song. About midway-through the track, though, Devin busts out some soothing arpeggios to mollify the potentially impatient listener. Things get nice and penitent toward the end of “Tiny Tears” (most definitely NOT a Godflesh cover, mind) with the chants of “Kyrie eleison” (“Lord, have mercy), while the closing track, “Stagnant,” most resembles a pop/rock song with some bluesily elastic vocal turns from Devin straddling beautifully that fine line between parody and sincerity.
“Universal” is a bonus track on my version of Terria. Like so many of the bonus tracks on previous Townsend releases, this is a bizarre cast-off, which, in thise case, sounds like an acoustic country/boogie tune buried deep in the background and swathed in spaced-out ambience and dripping water (?) noises. Just in case you thought Devin had gone mainstream, I suppose.
"Terria" is much more about mood and ambiance than the previous few solo Devin Townsend records (and most of those which follow, as a matter of fact). Devin’s lyrics tend, as always, to veer somewhat precariously between the abstract and the personal, but in an endearing fashion. This may be the Devin record that I spin least frequently, but it still hits the spot when the mood is right.
Overall rating: 70%. Remember the space whale song in Star Trek IV?
(Note: Originally posted at http://spinaltapdance.wordpress.com/)
Imagine a world of previous achievements "Infinity" and "Ocean Machine" blended together and a fresh progressive sound added to the mix. You're getting close to Terria. It also has a lot more variation from previous albums, with songs sounding almost as agressive as Strapping Young Lad to nice relaxing, emotional ballads, to odd experimental songs. The songs aren't as silly and crazy as Infinity, but some still have a slight touch of that. Also, they have a much more structured, full, and lush sound than Ocean Machine.
Devin's brilliance never fails to amaze me, on many many repeated (addicted) listenings, and so far, all throughout his career even though i am quite new to his CDs besides Terria. Some may not like it, maybe they expect it to sound like other bands, which is the opposite of what it sounds like. Devin definately creates his own genre that sounds like no one else, and can be quite hard to appreciate and to acquire a taste for it. In case you didn't know, the music is mostly comprised of guitars, synths, and Devin's vocals.
The first 2 songs are a good example of the more experimental, bizarre side of Devin's work. "Olives" is a short intro (leaves a horrible first impression of the CD) and "Mountain" seems messy and unstructured but it's fun to listen to.
The real fun begins at "Earth Day." I absolutely LOVE this song. It is one of my top 20 favorite songs, and thats out of a pretty nice size collection. "Mountains" fades out really softly, and then suddenly "Earth Day" starts with an unsuspecting attack of immense sound walls flowing into your ears. This song goes all over the place, with many changes in the sound and the vocals, with totally wild, brilliant, melodies and vocals. It is overwhelmingly epic sounding. Sometimes I wish this track was later, or even last, on the CD because whenever I play this CD I look forward to this song way too much. This song is definately meant to be heard LOUD, with it's incredibly full and lush, but heavy sound. It's the heaviest song on the album, and I think the longest. This song might take someone a long time to "get" because it's just so "out there," much moreso than most of Devin's work that is already far enough "out there." I wish I could do a better job of explaining what the song actually sounds like, but I just can't.
Next, we have "Deep Peace," when juxtaposed to "Earth Day" is extremely laid back and relaxed. It starts out with an acousitc guitar and is one of the softest songs. Somewhere in there is a very interesting, long solo. "Canada" is more of a medium-paced catchy tune. I don't really know what to say about "Down and Under," it's a good mostly instrumental song.
"The Fluke" is a fast, catchy, joyful, epic song. This song also goes all over the place. As another reviewer said, the climax is around 3:25 when there is vocals on top of each other and it sounds fantastic. This song then slowly fades out into some static experimentation and right into "Nobody's Here," a suprisingly emotional, heart-melting, sincere ballad. Dev's vocals really standout here as he sings mostly softly and then a little powerful during the chorus. It has harmonious synths and perfect underlying piano melodies. Definately one of the most solid songs he has ever made.
"Tiny Tears" is another amazing slow-paced song with awesome vocal performance and emotion. It contains an outrageous solo at about 4:45. I can't say anything else because there's too much to say.
"Stagnant" is probably my 3rd favorite song, a very joyful, upbeat song to end the album. Very catchy and will stick in your head after it ends, weather you like it or not.
"Terria" is, in my opinion at least, Devin's most accomplished and solid work, and is one of the most creative artists today. Remember it will usually take a long time to get used to but is extremely rewarding. Music? It's just entertainment folks.
This is THE best Devin Townsend album ever made. Every song is perfect in it's own way; the music is so soothing and atmospheric. I've had this album in my car cd player for weeks on end, because simply, you can drive to it and it relaxes you.
The album is a must get for all audiences, whether you're into progressive, or you just plain out have an open mind for everything; you must at least listen to one song off this masterpiece. On to the music!
The first track starts off with Olives; it has some sort of an atmosphere going on and a robot-ish voice saying the first lyrics of the album, very slow.
Mountain, which is the second track, starts off with Devin's first 'real' vocals on the disc, with a massive growl while being played over some heavy guitar riffs and keyboards. A medium paced song, coming in just over 6 and a half minutes. A Very atmospheric track.
Earth Day is one of the big highlights on this album; it has such volume and intensity. The guitar work is awesome, as well as Devin's vocals. I wish I could find a guitar tab for this, I would so love to jam out to this song every now and then, but it wouldn't be the same without the walls of sound that this hulk of a song has. Definitely the highlight of the album, some people say that this is the best song Devin's ever written in his career. I think it is one of the best, but all of Devin's work is the best. There is no 'best' song.
Deep Peace is the second highlight of the album; this is a tie with Earth Day and Tiny Tears as my favorite song on the album. This song starts out with an acoustic guitar and sounds of dolphins with the intro of Devin's vocals fitting the song perfectly. The classical piece in this song is so awesome and fun to play on the guitar; I love that arpeggio that starts the instrumental section. A great song from start to finish.
Canada is a very fun, easy going song with a good riff that reminds me somewhat of a country song. The lyrics are funny, and the song is cool, Devin keeps the atmosphere going perfectly. I love his line where Devin says "its beef!”
Down and Under is a short interlude with some soft guitar and some sounds of nature, it's an OK track.
The Fluke is totally awesome, it starts out with this cool guitar riff and then the other instruments kick in. Again, Devin's vocals on this track are supreme, and he delivers that extra oomph to make this song awesome. I don't really get the end though, it could be shortened. I guess I'm not too fond of the ambient noises at the end, but hey, it's cool anyways.
Nobody's Here is a slow kind of song with a lot of emotion and feel to it. It has a great guitar solo, a great song, nothing bad about it. My girlfriend enjoys this song too.
Tiny Tears is awesome, and probably the most emotional song on the album. I love this song, and I think I will never get tired of it, simply because it is..... Well, I can't put it into words, but it's too good for words. The song is just very unique. I love the lines....."I'm only 29 years old, and I'm so far away!" This song rivals Earth Day and Deep Peace.
The last track, but also very good is Stagnant. It is very happy and starts out with a cool lyric and a cool guitar riff. It reminds me of a cool rock song, but Devin manages to keep it metal. m/ My girlfriend loves this song, as well as Tiny Tears; and I love this song to no end. Very awesome.
The bonus track 'Universal' starts out with an acoustic riff that is kind of funny in it's own way, but in a cool sense. The song has kind of an upbeat, happy, kind of feel to it. The vocal arrangements are astonishing. You should definitely step into the universal brew.
Terria is wonderful and one of my favorite albums ever. I highly recommend buying this hulk of an album.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT!
This can't be Devin Townsend, can it? The same Devin Townsend that brought the world such mind-melting brutality with albums such as City and Strapping Young Lad? Well, it is. And you know what? The man knows how to do atmospheric prog.
This is something else. This provides a very melancholy, apologetic, remorseful atmosphere around the songs, and at the same time it gives off the feeling of looking towards the future and new beginnings. The cover says it all nicely. This is perfect to listen to during a rainy day. The songs themselves are very nicely done. They can range from haunting acoustic passages (Deep Peace) to hateful, apocalyptic epics (Earth Day). Sometimes Devy just drops some hilarious lines like in Canada. Sometimes he chooses to show off his avant-garde skills and goes into an Arcturus-like mode. You can never truly know what to expect next because this album is just all over the place and it just blows your mind.
This album sounds exactly like its story, which is about Adam and Eve during the apocalypse. I have never heard an album that more fits its storyline better. The guitars are heavy and the keyboards haunting, and the bass is very groovy and of course Gene Hoglan is at his best, though I do like him better when he's thrashing. And in the middle of it all sits Devy himself, who lets loose a mixture of crooning clean vocals to his trademark hate-filled screams.
This is just incredible. I cannot describe the way this sounds in words, and I don't think Devin meant for me to be able to. You HAVE to listen to this to understand. This is truly a trip.
...Or should I even be asking that question knowing the kind of guy Devin Townsend is. The true experimenter, this album sounds nothing like Infinity. While the latter is full of weird, strange songs and sounds, Terria slows things down and turns into much more of a progressive rock/metal album. There is not a whole lot of "metal" on this album and for somebody expecting SYL II, don' t look here. The production is crystal clear and Townsend himself sounds great. Also, this album is filled with a lot moe guitar solos then Infinity.
My favourite song on here has to be Deep Peace because it is such a trip. Slow and melodic guitar work that turns into an almost modern style ballad, but with a nice twist. Canada is also pretty cool, with a long build up and pretty weird guitar work. There are not as many "riffs" per se as there are "chords".
An excellent album, but can get a bit boring after a while. Buy!
This atmospheric piece of art is the beginning and the end of mankind. This album - that IS no album - but a living creature! - consists of both Adam and Eve in their peaceful garden and the living hell of the four apocalypse riders as they scorch the earth! This PAINTING is so versatile that every human being that lets it spin two or three times beneath the needle gets stuck!
Such arrangements as "Earth Day" compared to the "edenish" "Nobodys Here" leaves a whole universe of imagination inbetween - but shockingly enough - as this compilation comes to its end, there is nothing left to feel! Devin Townsend has once again got it all under one roof and name: TERRIA!
As a note of more, well "hard information", I can say to you that expect a fully brutal death release - this is not what you will find. Expect much ambience combined with TV-static and progressive arrengements.
Have a mindblowing trip!