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Devin Townsend's pedigree is unimpeachable. He's a brilliant songwriter and incredibly talented guitarist and vocalist. Some people drool at the very mention of his name, and would lick his boots no matter what he does. Much was made of the recording process, which involved symphonic elements and choirs and was simply a huge undertaking. So, the final heavy album of the Devin Townsend Project was one of the most highly-anticipated albums of the year. Could it possibly live up to the anticipation?
Put simply, no. It's a bloated, 71 minute mess, the kind of thing mockumentaries are made of. Opener "Praise the Lowered" starts out with some very quiet Phil Collins kind of stuff, then gets a little heavy. It's a six minute intro. The follow-up, "Stand", is nine minutes of build-up. Tension, but no release. In other words, this ridiculous opera starts out with over 17 minutes of intro.
The other extended compositions--the 11 minute "Planet of the Apes", 16 minute "The Mighty Masturbator", and 9 minute title track--are perfect illustrations of meandering prog excess. Random, disparate parts are strung together in endless array, few of which are heavy, memorable, or even interesting. They're punctuated by choirs, symphonies, synths, and I'm fairly certain I heard the kitchen sink in there as well. There are short parts in there that are quite good, and they remind you of what Hevy Devy can do, but they are rare and all too short.
Even the shorter cuts seem pointless. The 6 minute "Sumeria", for example, is a selection of random garbage played over the top of a so-so riff.
The only consistently redeeming feature of the album is Devin's own vocals. He uses his full range of growls, clean singing, and narration. The lyrics are injected with his quirky sense of humor, frivolity belying his deeper meanings. But lyrics don't matter much to me, and vocals alone don't save this otherwise laughable record.
The Verdict: This is Spinal Tap. If they had made a movie about the production of this thing, it would have been hilarious. Perhaps it is the work of an out-of-touch genius with a bloated ego and ideas bigger than he can pull off. On the other hand, given his well-known sense of humor, maybe Deconstruction is just a joke on all of us, to see if we'll just swallow any pill he prescribes.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/