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Too much cheese - 40%

JTR4, September 18th, 2012

To be fair, Devin did warn through some of his interviews that the musical approach for this album would be more to the point and easy to listen to. Devin has also done more than enough to prove how brilliant he is as a musician. That being said, this album provides little more than a cheesy approach to his trademark progressive sound. Devin's "Addicted" album had plenty of poppier moments, and it certainly didn't lack any cheese itself, but this album provides such profuse levels of it that it becomes a rather sickening endeavor before long. It has a similar effect of eating too many pieces of candy corn. At first, the sugary substance tastes exquisite. But upon further ingestion, the overly sweet concoction becomes difficult to keep enjoying.

The album does feature a rather bizarre addition to metal in the form of a gospel choir. Dominating the opening track as well as helping throughout the album, they are talented vocalists, and they are added into certain moments to increase vocal power and dramatic flair. I'm not for or against their use, but I will say that the opening track could have easily been cut out without causing much damage to the album. Despite this trivial annoyance, the album becomes a bit more enjoyable once "True North" rolls forth. Guest vocalist, Anneke, shows off some marvelous singing, and her voice remains truly beautiful throughout the entirety of the album.

Despite all the good things that can be said about this work, the bad far outweighs the good in terms of enjoyment. The single released from this album, "Lucky Animals," is grating after multiple listens. The song plays around with simplicity, which isn't always a bad thing, but in this case it is. The chorus is good for chanting at live shows, but rather poor for repeated listening.

Simplicity pervades other tracks such as "Liberation," "Where We Belong," and "Save Our Now." Now, while I do find the simplicity of this album rather unenjoyable for the most part, there are some really good songs to be found. "More!" and "Hold On" are excellent examples of simplicity being used well. "More!" with its insanely catchy feel and "Hold On" with its dazzling emotional punch are the best tracks on the album. I only wish that more of the album could have followed the lead of these two tracks. The over-the-top, operatic rock feel combined with progressive metal makes the album become droning after a while, and while the album was unashamedly aiming for such a sound, it's more often than not an uninteresting and mediocre cheese-fest. For Devin fanboys, this album will most likely be an instant hit. For this fan, the attempt at being overwhelming left this album feeling underwhelming.