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Earlier this year, one of my favourite artists and musicians Devin Townsend released an album that was generally thought to be pleasant, but alienated alot of the man's existing fanbase. While I personally have nothing against 'Ki' and openly welcomed his change of pace, alot of people will be happy to know that Townsend is back to a more familiar trademark sound on this one, but with a twist...
The second addition to Devin's new drug-free project is chock full of nuances and sounds that will conjure up thoughts of previous works like 'Ocean Machine' or even some of the more melodic material from his metal flagship band Strapping Young Lad...
The twist is that it actually manages to incorperate dance music elements into progressive metal. With that in mind, it's suprising the album actually works as a whole. 'Addicted' has a very big emphasis on catchiness and hooky melodies; this works as a double-edged sword both for and against the album. On one hand, 'Addicted' is undoubtedly one of the most 'fun' and instantly gratifying albums I own. In other words, it would be the perfect soundtrack for a party.
On the other hand, the fact that 'Addicted' gives everything it has in the first few listens really takes its toll on the lasting appeal. Sure, there is the vast multi-tracking 'wall of sound' that gives alot of sonic depth to the music, but emotionally, the impact compared to 'Terria' for example is almost negligible. There are some great beauty moments here however, from the stunning chorus of 'Numbered!' to the powerful 'Supercrush!'
The choice to have Annekke Van Giersbergen as a vocalist on this album was a great one. She has the perfect voice to compliment the melodies that Devin has crafted here, and while much of her role on this album is dedicated to soft beauty moments or peppy pop choruses, she pulls off a stunning performance in the new rendition of the song 'Hyperdrive!' which some will instantly recognize as a track originally from 'Ziltoid The Omniscient.'
With yet another album under his belt, Devin Townsend shows us that he isn't willing to become a one-track gimmick. From the intelligence and introspective mood on 'Ki' and now the overly peppy and dance metal tunes of 'Addicted,' one can only guess what the next album will bring to our ears.
There is always something special to look forward in a Devin Townsend album.In one of his interviews Mr.Townsend stated, that the main ingredient of his music is certain vibe(state of the mind), which heavily influence his songwriting and production style of the full-length record.The thing, which makes Devin Townsend truly unique songwriter in today`s metal scene is his ability to deliver certain emotion with the help of music.And "Addicted" is not an exception from the rule.
You can`t talk about the albums in Townsend discography, which are similar to "Addicted",though it is influenced by "Infinity"(basically first half of the record) and Ziltoid album.But again, this album has it`s own special vibe, which is not a repetition of the previous Devin efforts.It has pretty positive feel, in some moments it becomes more chaotic (like in the track "Universe in a ball!") or melancholic ("The way home!").Also, this album offers a wide variety of vocal techniques from various musicians (Anneke Van Giesbergen and Sussane Richter credited for guest appearance, and Devin Townsend himself as the main vocalist of the record).The song, vocally I didn`t get is "In-ah!', which is probably the weakest song of the album (some of the lines remind me of russian pop-singer Vitas, which you`d better not to hear).But otherwise, vocal performance is on the highest possible level.
I wasn`t able to identify the genre of music "Addicted" belongs to, because of the numerous influences, which were gathered in this album together.From other side, I would make a stop on Pop metal or Alternative metal (they are pretty close nowadays), though the "Addicted" songs are heavier then previous album`s ones guitar-wise but in the same time they are very accessible to an average listener and have quite catchy chorus.Production quality of this album is done on the really great level and features numerous layers of the instruments and various effects recordings, which are the trademark of the "Devin Townsend Sound"(the return to the roots after clear production of the predecessor album "Ki").The interesting move, which Devin Townsend made is the recording of "Hyperdrive" alternative version (one of the most popular songs of Devin Townsend) which features Anneke Van Giesbergen on vocals.I can`t say that this version is worse (though I prefer original one).It delivers quite different vibe, which is more dancy and positive, while Ziltoid "Hyperdrive" has melancholic vibe, which has been delivered by Devin Townsend vocals.
The cornerstone track of the album, in my opinion, is "Awake!" which includes most of the assets of this album.You will be able to get the main idea of the record with the first listen, which is enough for this record, because it has really catchy songs, which stuck in your head, and the production quality brings these songs to the really high level.It is really good album, if you are an open-minded listener, but I should admit, that "Strapping Young Lad" fans won`t be pleased with the musical direction of this Townsend album. Talking about the flaws - the album not really "deep" and interesting in matter of guitar riffs (I would say it is quite simplistic in this component), though it isn`t the main goal of this record.
After so many years and so many great albums, I keep wondering when Devin will just be unable to produce good music anymore. Is it really possible to do all that he’s done since the mid to late 90s and still maintain such momentum and creative energy? On his newest release, Addicted, Devin proves that it is indeed possible and that he still has tons of that creative spark left in him. Not only has he produced yet another great record, but this is possibly one of his best to date. I’m assuming that most of you know the back story behind this album and its role in Devin’s four album series that he has planned. If not, know that Addicted is supposed to be the incredibly upbeat, positive, and downright happy pop-metal album that serves as a direct contrast to the calm, yet audibly restrained tension that was present on Ki. Well, consider this a success on Devin’s part, because Addicted does everything he said it would.
Starting off with a simple and catchy riff, the title track is easily the best here. It has the best build up, and overall the best development, of any of the tracks here. The female vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen really set the positive mood here excellently and allow Devin’s trademark raspy yelling clean vocals to sound upbeat as opposed to violent as done so well on Strapping Young Lad’s discography. The song then delves into my favorite guitar solo in any of Devin’s projects. It’s odd, quirky, catchy, and has that unique Devin flair that makes him so enjoyable to listen to. If you’ve listened to Ki, you might notice the subtle synthesized melody in the background on ‘Addicted!’ that sounds oddly similar to the one towards the end of ‘Coast.’ If I’m hearing it correctly, this theme reappears at the end of the album, right after ‘Awake’ has faded out.
Anneke gets the spotlight on a few songs, such as ‘Bend it Like Bender!’ and ‘Hyperdrive!’, and she really shines here. Her voice goes beyond the “soft” realm that female voices generally serve to provide in metal and instead creates a beautiful atmosphere that basically forces a smile on your face. She just sounds so damn happy! Still, I will say that she sounds a bit robotic at times, although that’s my only criticism of her voice. I get that feeling mainly because she is mostly bound to singing choruses (e.g., ‘Bend it Like Bender!’ and ‘Numbered!’) and otherwise has a minor role on the album vocally relative to Devin. Speaking of Anneke, the redone version of ‘Hyperdrive!’ is so much better than the original that it’s not even funny. The version on Ziltoid the Omniscient is one of the weakest songs on the album, but with Anneke, ‘Hyperdrive!’ is easily one of the best songs on Addicted. It’s amazing how big a difference a change in vocalist and can make.
The only bad song here is ‘Ih-Ah!,’ and…it’s pretty damn bad. Frankly, it tarnishes what would otherwise be one of my favorite of Devin’s albums. It just feels forced and overly simplistic to the point of stupidity. “Ih-Ah?” Ugh, it just sounds more retarded each time he says it (and he says it a lot…). Sorry Dev, but this is not one of your finer moments. Luckily, he makes it up with a majestic vocal performance on ‘The Way Home,’ which for some reason reminds me of Strapping Young Lad’s ‘Almost Again.’ Devin does a great job vocally on the whole album, but this is just one of his best vocal performances of his career. Consider me impressed again, Mr. Townsend.
Overall, the songs here are all very straightforward in terms of structure, as should be expected from this pop-ish effort. Still, the drumming has quite a few intricacies for such a simple style of music. In addition, the layers upon layers of synthesizers really add a degree of vibrancy and life to this album. Spend one listen of this album focusing on just the electronics and synths and you’ll likely develop an appreciation for Devin’s attention to detail.
To put it bluntly, this is the most upbeat metal album you will likely ever listen to, and it’s pretty damn good to boot. If anything, this reminds me of a more straightforward version Infinity, with more songs like the ever-so-catchy ‘Christeen’ than eccentric and quirky ‘Bad Devil.’ Even with its notable flaws, the positive aspects of this album are so well executed and sound so brilliant that this is easily one of Devin’s best solo works (I know he’s technically not working solo on this album, but I consider anything outside of Strapping Young Lad to be solo for the purposes of this review). With the exception of the criminally underrated Accelerated Evolution, this might even be Devin’s best album of the millennium, even above Terria.
Written for http://thenumberoftheblog.com/
Since rediscovering my intense passion for the wizardry of progressive metal prodigy and mad man Devin Townsend through a long time friend of mine, ‘Accelerated Evolution, I took it upon myself to enter into his wicked mind and explore the discography of most of his projects, including this one who’re simply known as Devin Townsend Project. It’s easy to get confused as to which record features under which project because he tends to stick closely to old band names when conjuring up new ideas through fresh projects. For example, there has previously been a band known as The Devin Townsend Band and now we have the Devin Townsend Project. Even when Devin has released records through bands with far different names, they’re still caught up in his obsession of naming projects after himself and whilst I would consider this rather pretentious if anyone else had come up with the idea, I cannot help but feel that it is justified the more I listen to his works. I’m fairly sure that every record he appears on, he is the center point of creativity and the aptly entitled ‘Addicted’ is no different.
Despite the fact that Devin obviously works with talented members of the metal industry, or even former members of it such as Anneke van Giersbergen, he still manages to outshine these consummate professionals by putting in a totally mind blowing performance at the heart of whatever project he is currently plugging to the audience. Initially my reaction to ‘Addicted’ was one of huge disappointment. I remember reading somewhere, though I don’t recall where specifically, this sophomore being billed as the next ‘Biomech’, a record I worship every day like it is my religious saviour. In fact, I believe it was even compared to ‘Biomech’ as if they were incredibly similar. Therefore, due to my consuming love and affection for Ocean Machine’s divine, life altering record, I truly believe that this could be the long awaited follow up to that record, something that I was praying long and hard for, for longer than the usual suffering period of 40 days and 40 nights. So, for those of you who have heard the surprising ‘Addicted’, you will understand where my disappointment spawns from because I do not find this record to be too much like ‘Biomech’.
Although I can hold my hands up and say that, yes, I do hear some similarities, there are also an awful lot of differences between the two, which is the intention on the part of Devin himself, as is suggested in the additional information which states, “The project comprises four albums of differing musical styles …”. As expected, Devin has taken a new direction, almost completely dismissing his past works and attempting to move on to greater pastures. I’ve listened to ‘Ki’, albeit not as much as I’ve spun ‘Addicted’, but it fails to deliver on almost every front. I’ve tried to wrap my head around it and cannot feel the same intense passion that I feel from Devin and co. here. Although I’m partial to soothing records, ‘Ki’ doesn’t stimulate my emotions, or senses like ‘Addicted’ thus, which truly has you hooked from the very first moment with the self-titled song as that infectious guitar bonds well with the sharp atmosphere, one which keeps us on our toes for the duration of the record. When the initial disappointment subsided, I was left with an unnerving craving. I wanted to listen to ‘Addicted’ over and over and over again. There is something completely fresh about Devin’s latest musical adventure, despite its familiar feel from time to time.
The bombastic production probably has a significant part to play in it, since it supplies the record with a fair amount of oomph! Surprisingly, the titles to each song even plays a part in making this as bouncy a record as humanly possible, making us want to get up from off our feet and onto whatever floor can be danced on. There is an accessibility to ‘Addicted’ that ‘Ki’ has a complete lack of. For me, it is a partial return to Devin’s progressive roots, instead of trying to hook the masses on a lacklustre ambient affair with minimal presence. Though I much prefer Devin to stick to his emotionally rousing clean vocals, his screams, which appear in abundance here, seem somehow more appealing than usual, though I am partial to them when the mood strikes. I suppose with the addition of The Gathering’s former vocalist, Anneke, Devin has to play a different role, since she can only supply sultry clean vocals, though she does have the capacity to handle a hardened metal record, which this mostly is, as she performed well on The Gathering’s ground breaking metal record ‘Mandylion’ all those years ago.
I do find myself resenting her presence here, since it does seem to mean that Devin is limited to harsher screams, which aren’t as emotive, though they do compliment the atmosphere on songs like ‘Universe In A Ball!’ due to the fiercely crushing instrumentation which features repetitious drums and guitars and a lightly textured ambiance, supplied by the likeable keyboards and synths, which generate a feeling of new grounds being explored. As I said earlier, the fact that each song is exclaimed in the title does seem to make a difference. It gives the record a base to work on, even if the individual listener has not heard a note played, simply because it makes you energetically announce songs. This isn’t a singular occurrence within the record either, as almost the entire work is energetic, upbeat and fun loving, like songs such as ‘Bend It Like A Bender!’ which features the graceful voice of Anneke alongside Devin’s, something I could never have dreamed of beforehand due the painful excitement and eventual disappointment of a showcase such as this ultimately never happening.
But, alas, it has! Not only that, but the two, multi-talented musicians work superbly together and form an alliance as strong as any vocal duet I’ve heard. Songs like ‘Supercrush’ are especially good at highlighting this feeling as Devin combines well with his fellow musicians to offer a wonderful atmosphere for Anneke to shine within. Their voices compliment each other so well and are both incredibly emotional singers, with the feeling that they put everything into their performances. Of course, Devin’s performance isn’t limited to vocals, though he does a stellar job there. He provides much of the electronic elements, which are dominant within the bombastic feel of the soundscapes and, as well as that crucial element, he helps out by putting in a shift on guitar, alongside Mark Cimino and Brian Waddell on bass, a man who deserves a lot of credit for remaining completely audible amongst the fighting performances of the other instruments. The bass, at times, does remind me of the sombre aspects of records like ‘Biomech’ and this feeling is felt tenfold when the songs take a shift towards a less robust sound, like the immense ‘The Way Home!’, which features slower and more expansive emotional sections, though the guitars do offer a furious outlet at points. The more and more I listen to ‘Addicted’, the more the title becomes worthy of its role. I expect that soon enough, having overplayed this record, I will wake up one morning with a hangover and the shakes. A fantastic sophomore to the misshapen ‘Ki’.
Six months have passed since the release of Ki - a masterpiece of ambientish prog by none other than Devin Townsend - and now we're served with another 45 minutes of music by the bald guitarist. Unfortunately, Addicted is the embodiment of all my past fears regarding its release - six months are just not enough to record something compelling and original. Indeed, what we have here is pretty much a churned out by an assembly line piece of completely uninspired bunch of synthesizers.
This album is pretty much Ki. But now imagine Ki with every good aspect taken away, absolutely no message, and with every bad aspect multiplied by a couple hundred million billion. An album full of the worst moments of the song Gato. An album full of misplaced and uninteresting female vocals (supplied by Anneke van Giersbergen from The Gathering), angsty rage, primitive song structures and an overabundance of electronics. Voilla, you have a recipe for Addicted.
Starting the ride, we're greeted by the title track, and even there, at the very start, we realise something is very, very wrong. It has maybe two riffs throughout its five minutes, and the prevalent one (a slow, grinding riff) starts to become annoying pretty much after 15 seconds of listening to it, while the other one during the chorus (and the whole chorus itself, actually) is so poppy and candy-coated it makes me sick. The song also has some pretty bad drumming (especially at the start, with almost drum'n'bass-ish single 'boom!'s), lots of harsh vocals by Devin, which are lacklustre to say the least, some completely random electronic sounds here and there, and Anneke doing some distanced 'waaaaaah's.
And you know, the above description of the title track is the whole album in a nutshell, but actually, it only gets worse after it, because at least the opener is somewhat tolerable. The following tracks have a lot bigger focus on synths, female vocals and 'radio-friendship', with their peak probably on 'Bend it like Bender!', where the electronics keep buzzing almost all the time with some strange and redundant effects, Anneke keeps yapping in the chorus like a member of Spice Girls and, again, the drums are just horrid. Actually, drums are probably the second worst feature of Addicted right after the synths. They're not only simplistic as hell, but also annoying for the most part, not to mention they often reach for downright techno 'beats' like in the middle of Awake!. Third place on the podium of awfulness would probably be the guitars, which are distorted too heavily for their own good, and they never really produce anything worthwhile, be it riffs or soloes. Overall, everything here also sounds too damn 'alternative'.
Also, another rather important factor is that all tracks sound almost the same (except maybe Hyperdrive! and Ih-Ah!, but I'll get back to them, and Bend it like Bender! because it's the album's main stand out, though it's a shame that it stands out with its *lack* of quality). If you took most of the tracks, put them into a mixer and ordered it to make a 5-minutes-long track out of random 30-second passages of each, you probably wouldn't hear much difference, especially if you scored a jackpot consisting of a generic riff, some random yelling by Townsend, some radiofriendly twitter by van Giersbergen, annoying drumming and shitloads of electronic buzz-buzz-twiiiiiiings. Yes, Devin Townsend blends!
Two songs that kind of avoid the general formula of this longplay are Hyperdrive! and Ih-Ah!, but both are rather horrible. Ih-Ah! is a mellow track, but it sounds almost totally like 'Otherside' by Red Hot Chili Peppers. 'Accessible' as fuck and with a chorus that could probably top the charts on MTV. And then... there's Hyperdrive!. Yes, Hyperdrive! is a cover of Hyperdrive from Ziltoid. And I hate Townsend for butchering that wonderful song like this. The cyberpunkish vibe is gone. Everything is made 'heavier'. And worst of all... All vocals are by Anneke. Fuck this, I'm tired of female vocals being thrown into almost every motherfucking metal release that comes out lately, especially when they're not fitting, and this is exactly the case. This is not a symphonic goth track, neither is it a song by Lady Gaga. This is not supposed to be sung with a lively pop star kind of vocals, and it's not supposed to be accompanied by heavily distorted grinding guitar riffs killing the 'cosmic' atmosphere of the song. Fuck you, Townsend, for utterly killing what was probably the best track on Ziltoid.
Good sides of this cd? Meh, I don't know. The Way Home! is cool. It reminds me of The Greys or the later part of Solar Winds. It's an up-tempo, but generally pleasant and calm track, with only clean vocals by Townsend, a lack of synths (thank God), and even with decent drumming, which is an oddity. I suppose the production throughout the album is also good, and all instruments can be heard clearly, and SOME songs have very short passages that are good, but they end quickly enough to forget and not care about them.
In all honesty, there's not even much to write about this album except 'shitty drums, synth-laden to the point of stupidity, generic and sounding all the same', but that's basically because... this album isn't much. There's nothing here. No substance, nothing to write about. I would expect something like this from Nickelback, but not from Devin Townsend. I think it was also stated somewhere, that this was supposed to be another 'wacky!' album like Ziltoid. No. It isn't. Ziltoid was wacky. Vampira was wacky. Hell, even Trainfire was wacky. This? This is just stupid, and when you think about it, there isn't even that much actual wackyness to talk about here (hey look, there's a Futurama character in 'Bend it like Bender!'! Awesum!). I guess sometimes, some people should be put back into reality by a quick slap to the face, and Townsend needs exactly that after Addicted. He also needs to slow the fuck down, since I think there's another album supposed to be put out in another 6 months or so, and somehow I feel that it'll be as uninspired and 'out of the factory' as this.
And y'know, one of the faux-wikipedia parody sites once had an article titled 'How to be funny and not just stupid' - a read that I hereby recommend to Devin Townsend.
The latest effort from the notorious and amazing Devin Townsend goes by the name 'Addicted'. Since his first release 'Ki', released in May 2009, he's worked his ass off to bring us this new album only a mere 6 months later. And boy, does he deliver the goods.
The album clocks in at a respectable 46 minutes, which for me is the perfect length: not too long, not too short. The reason this album has the perfect length is because none of the 10 songs on the album are lengthy nor too short. They're perfectly balanced in every way, and that is what makes this album so memorable as well.
Now I'm not going to discuss every song in particular, simply because the overall album is just nothing but amazing, but I will highlight those moments that really sticked to my brain like a bomb sticks to a terrorist. Starting off with the title song and opener, 'Addicted!'.
'Addicted!' has multiple awesome moments, mainly because the song is the perfect mix between commercial and accessible rock and progressive heavy metal. Just like the entire album, it's really well produced and has a rich, full and broad sound, which then again complements the heavy riffs in the songs, played on a 7-string guitar. A few of those awesome moments mentioned before are the 'machine-gun' riffs as I like to call them. Basically they are simple guitarriffs, underlined with 3 fast double bass hits and then a snare hit. Pa-da-da-DAM! These parts can be found throughout the chorus and are absolutely mind-blowing.
There are more of those moments on the album, like the mighty vocal showcase from Devin in the chorus of 'The Way Home!' or the massively catchy vocal melody in 'Hyperdrive!'. Actually, I think it's safe to say that this album is a constant flow of these kind of 'awesome moments'.
Where all the songs have the same overall style, they are all 'coloured' in with different colours. Songs sound just about the same to make a coherent album, none of the songs are alike, which makes the album anything but repetetive.
Anneke van Giersbergen (Ayreon, The Gathering) delivers some beautiful guest vocals on this album, ranging from entire choir sounds to simple but beautiful melodies. Also, there are these few songs that are even more outstanding than the others, namely, 'Bend it like Bender!' and 'In-Ah!'. Where 'Bend it like Bender!' is so poppy, though so catchy and strong, 'In-Ah!' is a ballad which has this beautiful structure to it, starting off with a few basic chords and a basic vocal line, and slowly building up layers until the massive arrangement of sounds gets revealed at the very last 30 seconds or so. Astounding, indeed.
So, are there any downsides to this album at all? Well, there's only one I can think of, namely, that the album is sure to be a major dissapointment to those who expected a new 'Strapping Young Lad' or to stay within the project, a new 'Ki'. Devin deserves nothing but massive respect for the interesting display of styles, comparing 'Ki' to 'Addicted'. The albums vary in every way but still sound very alike in ways of mood and atmosphere.
So to conclude the review on 'Addicted', I have nothing to complain about for this record. It's pure and complete, however, do not expect anything like Strapping Young Lad, because you will surely be dissapointed.
The second part of the four part album series under the title The Devin Townsend Project, entitled Addicted, is once again something that Strapping Young Lad fans probably would expect, but wouldn't at the same time. "But, how is that even humanly possible?" you may ask. Well, Addicted is perhaps one of the most obscure albums of Devin Townsend's career, even considering the last album Ki, since this album incorporates a more pop, even Europop feel to the music. Much of the album is simple with industrial and synth beats, singing, some screaming where applicable, with a nice addition of female vocals, proving once again that Devin has more talent in his pinky then most bands do collectively.
The music on here is a nice departure from Ki. Where the last album was very mellow and relaxing, this one gives off a more party environment through many of the songs, and have some well crafted lyrics to go along with them, such as the title track "Addicted!" talking about an addiction to pornography, and the chorus to "Resolve!". The start of the album pretty much all flows smoothly from one song to another with each track bleeding into the next up until "Supercrush!", and each song after that just getting more enjoyable. Once you hit "Resolve!", the flow of the music does shift to a more serious sound, but still retains a subtle party environment.
Now that we established that the album is more of a party-sounding album, it should be noted that around the time of "Ih-ah!", the album seems to be completely derailed. The song is more of an acoustic ballad track with some synths. Things seem alright once you hit "The Way Home!", but then you get blasted back into the previous post-Strapping Young Lad solo album Ziltoid The Omniscient on "Numbered!" and "Awake!". The only reason that these two tracks would be here could only be that, according to the Devin Townsend Project website, the third part is going to be very complex and heavy as far as the music goes, so perhaps this is a build up to it. But, either way, these final tracks find the closing of the album to be very dramatic, but at the same time completely void of the flow that was set up in the first six tracks.
Addicted is a great Progressive effort that is just fun to listen to, and is highly recomended. The only issue would be the climax of the album being so void of what the first half of the album presents, especially with the last two albums. Hopefully the closing of this one is to somehow segway into the next installment of this series of releases, and given the timespan between this and Ki, hopefully it won't be too long. With very catchy tracks like "Addicted!" and "Bend It Like Bender!", this one is definitely going to be on repeat on your playlist for a good while, as you will be as the album title depicts: Addicted.
Originally posted on December 9th, 2009 at Apoch's Metal Review
I fell off the Devy-wagon years ago, in fact I haven't been entirely impressed with any of his solo outings since perhaps Terria (though a few of the later Strapping Young Lad releases were decent). He released Ki earlier this year, and that one went right past me with little fanfare. So I was pretty stunned when hearing this new effort, Addicted. It's really good, with both the wackiness and serious skill we expect from this man, and the most enjoyable album since he was releasing stuff on the level of Infinity or Ocean Machine's Biotech.
Townsend is joined here by a healthy cast of cohorts, including Anneke van Giersbergen's guest vocals, and a few of his Devin Townsend Band members, like Brian Waddell (bass) and Ryan van Poederooyen (drums). The album is light and fun at times, but heavy and memorable in most. It maintains Devin's playful sense of humor, but despite even the most cheesy moments of the album ("Bend it Like Bender", which even features a sample of the Futurama character), it succeeds. Yes, even Townsend's pitiful lyrical skills cannot topple the music here, though he tries pretty damn hard.
"Addicted" begins the album with a simple sequence of chords, over which Anneke's vocals soar and a flurry of friendly electronics supports. When Devin's vocals arrive, they crush just like Strapping Young Lad, and in fact this track could have appeared on City and we might not know the difference. "Universe in a Ball" offers a big groove over more electro pulses, and I didn't really mind the lyrics here, they are simple but effective. The synthesizers sound amazing here over the bridge and chorus, from the simmering piano lines to the big 80s wave lines hidden against the dark backdrop of the song's atmosphere. I'll skip "Bend it Like Bender" for the chugging grace of "Supercrush", van Giersbergen's presence before the huge wall of chords helping to transcend this one into the atmosphere...a truly catchy performance from all involved. She repeats this with "Hyperdrive" and "Resolve", two more tracks which see Townsend returning to the great writing that made his old works so good...the chorus for "Resolve" is just precious.
'I want resolve to receive what you'll be!
The ocean returns to the sea!!!'
The album takes a little hit with "Ih-ah!", which is a little more like a soft rock version of this band that is safe for your local commercial radio station, but it's not exactly terrible. "The Way Home" gets really good, as it progresses through a volley of percussive guitar riffing into a cosmos full of carefully placed electronic impulses and shuffling drum rhythms. "Numbered" has some crushing, brief chords before another wall of Anneke erupts across the huge bottom end this band can create through the simple rock structure and myriad electronics Devy is not afraid of using. The closer is "Awake", a gentle rocking anthem with some harsher vocals on the horizon.
The production values are superb, as usual, but it's a Devin Townsend album. Those who don't want this packed, immersive, highly electronic vibe to their listening should just step off, because it is where the man excels with his studio work (on his personal projects, or those of others). In the tradition of all his stronger works, the album is polarizing: it reaches elevated, fanciful highs, often courtesy of his talented female guest, but it will also slam you in the face with a nu-thrash chugging riff and some of his snarled, pissed off vocals. It's modern, and it should not have to apologize for being so. This is essentially future pop metal, and it's a bright future. Not every track here is pristine, and the lyrics are still a little on the weak side (the concepts have an adequate depth, but he could improve the vocaulary to the same effect), but it's a lot of fun to listen to, and you could probably share it with friends who don't care for metal. Not that any of us need jerks like that in our lives!
Highlights: Universe in a Ball, Supercrush, Resolve, Awake
Very rarely do I ever purchase an album that would not be considered any form of extreme metal. And even more rarely than that does that non-extreme album completely blow my mind. Let’s just say that Devin Townsend’s newest album, Addicted, did just that. Even on the first listen, I was amazed by this album.
I had been anticipating the release of this album ever since it was announced that it would be released earlier this year, and even more after the softer prog rock album Ki was released, and after listening to and reading various interviews from Devin about the album, I really didn’t know what to expect. Was he going to make a pop album? Was it going to sound like Nickleback? I had no idea. Really this album doesn’t sound like either of those, but instead just a very enjoyable, cleverly written heavy progressive rock record. At some points it doesn’t sound like anything Devin’s ever done before. There are some parts that sound like they could be on a Strapping Young Lad album, and some sound like stuff from the Ziltoid album, but none of this is a bad thing, it all works together really well.
The main thing I was worried about with the album, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone on this, were the contribution of female vocals by Anneke van Giersbergen. I’m sure many people don’t like them, and I’m not familiar with any of her previous work, but I have to say that she is a very talented vocalist and her vocals fit the album very well. She actually sings a decent amount on the album, and even sings all of the main vocals on the rerecording of “Hyperdrive” from the Ziltoid album. Some standout moments for her on the moment would be the verses in “Supercrush!”, and her parts on “Numbered!” and “Awake!”. And as for Devin’s vocals, they are the same as they’ve always been, but he incorporates a lot of his singing vocals and even a lot of screams that we all came to love from hearing in Strapping Young Lad, which surprised me actually.
The guitars of course are crushing, heavy, and sound amazing. When I hear the opening riff of “Addicted!” I just want to blast the music and cause a disturbance wherever I’m at. There are also some very interesting guitar parts, such as the solo on “Addicted!”, the guitar/keyboard part at 1:43 of “Bend It Like Bender!”, and the scale at 2:17 of “Numbered!”. The drums and bass also provide a very powerful and demanding rhythm section, which contribute to the heaviness of the album. And of course as on any other Devin Townsend record, there are plenty of effects and electronics all over the place.
Whenever the album is listened to as a whole, it has a very pleasing effect. The first three songs all flow into each other and connect very nicely, as do the last three. While the first three songs and “Resolve!” add a lighter, more fun tone to the album, “Supercrush!” and “Numbered!”, contain more of a heavy, direct, serious vibe. And then of course there’s the ‘ballad’, “Ih-Ah!”, which sounds like it could be something that’s heard on a radio station. This one is a very emotional song, and it really is a great song at that. As for “Hyperdrive!”, although it is a great song, and Anneke’s vocals work very well with it, I just have to say that I prefer the original version, the new one just lacks as much emotion and feeling that Devin achieved in the original. “The Way Home!” is very reminiscent of something that would be on Ziltoid and “Awake!” is a wonderful song in my opinion. It’s very epic in way, and acts as a great closer. It even previews the next album in the series to an extent, with Devin screaming “GET UP AND DECONSTRUCT!!!” over and over again, backed by heavy guitars and a demolishing rhythm section.
Even though this album just recently came out, I think it will be recognized in the future as a Devin Townsend classic, or maybe I’m just crazy, but after just a couple days of owning this I can’t stop listening to it. Not to sound like a jackass or anything but I might just be “addicted” to it (yeah, someone had to say it eventually). I think Addicted is a groundbreaking album, and is definitely one of Devin Townsend’s finest works.