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Indeed, it is definitely one of the best records I've ever heard and another brilliant Townsend record. Count another high rating for Devin Townsend from me. This man just cannot be stopped in his brilliance. His sound has evolved from the more straightforward atmospheric metal found on Ocean Machine, to the sounds of divinity themselves on Infinity, to straight forward atmospheric SYL-lite, to the song of the earth, to straight forward heavy rock from heaven and now...finally, the culmination of all the sounds, all the sights and smells of Devy's crazy career, here on this record. It's all here, catchy hooks, brutal walls of sounds with screaming vocals, catchy poppy songs, pure prog metal, pure prog rock, beautiful melodies and segments, all of it, and it's all awesome.
Let It Roll opens with a wonderful acoustic guitar and nice vocals from Devy. A very nice relaxing intro. When the drums come in it's real inspirational, and the album's strongest point hits you for the first time: this is an album to cheer you up and set you right in life. This is in album you put on after something awful has happened, and by the end you are emotionally drained of anything except a fuzzy warm feeling. Hypergeek is exactly as the title suggests: insane and off-the-wall with some strange as hell sound samples. Not ambience, but just weird. There's an ok melody going on... until the double bass hits and there's a crushing guitar riff and now the album has begun. There's another inspirational section with an uplifting melody, then the song ends, fast and furious.
It leads into the first big standout of this album, Triumph. Not to say the first two songs weren't amazing; they were. But Triumph is where it all really kicks off and grabs you and doesn't let go. The vocal lines are infectious as hell, I was saying, "And they said it was this, and they said it was that" and "hooray for Doctor Young... hooray for earth born and son" or whatever the lyrics are for weeks. The "One word ...collective! Mankind...collective!" section is awesome. There's a shirt folk country interlude, a sublime guitar solo from Steve Vai, an amazing build up with some terrific Devy vocals, this song has it all. Awesome. Triumph leads into Babysong, which is a strange one. It's like a heavy metal lullaby. Bludgeoning yet precious. Lyrics are strange, but the whole song pulls itself off pretty well. Not the strongest offering on the album but no slouch. A formidable song.
Then comes Vampolka. This one is a really strange one, a joke by the band revolving around organ and trombone and sounds and a "surfs up" style guitar, I forgot what the song was that popularized it. It takes the melody of Vampira and twists it. Meh, ok, I'll listen to it. Vampira comes...the single of the album. Some good vocal work by Devy...pretty great, actually. The rest is simply ok. Overall, Babysong, Vampolka and Vampira are probably the three low points of the album, but the fact that they are contiguous is good so they don't destroy the flow of better songs. And...they really aren't all that bad, especially Babysong. Just not as good as the rest of the album. However, 99% of music out there isn't as good as this album, so that's not saying much.
Anyway, next is Mental Tan. It introduces a lovely melody and is quite pretty, but nothing happens. I really like it though. It goes into Gaia, which comes in full steam ahead, all band members pounding away. A lovely melody, lovely keyboard work to give a earthy-windy feel to the song, I really can't describe it. This is another big song on the album. Amazing stuff. It goes into Pixellate, which is the longest and biggest (Devy's wall of sound) song on the album. The different emotions and feels it goes through is amazing, and is overall a breathtaking song. That's three perfects in a row now...and Judgement doesn't disappoint either. It's probably the most powerful song on the album and has some truly colossal yells from Mr. Townsend. It brings that that lovely melody from Mental Tan at the perfect time, after a brutally badass yet really cool and pretty section with Townsend screaming.
Next is A Simple Lullaby, which is anything but simple or a lullaby. It's pretty simple in concept, and revolves around the same melody, but I find this song passes the quickest on the album. It's just a really interesting listen if you get engrossed in it. Fun to listen to. That's now five aces in a row. Can it continue? Yes! Sunset, while simple like Mental Tan, is no less pretty. In fact it's got some of the prettiest, most inspiring and genuinely happy moments on the album. Six in a row. Notes from Africa? Well...great melody? Check. Lovely layering? Check. Reference to SYL's 'Love?'? Check. Great vocals and lyrics? Check. Make that seven aces in a row. THAT'S HALF THE ALBUM. Unfortunately that spree is broken by the last song Sunshine and Happiness, which, as it suggests, is stupidly happy. It's a fun listen once or twice, but it offers no real depth. I usually stop the album after the rainforest at the end of Notes from Africa, cause S&H offers nothing to the album and even mars the experience.
So overall, this album is exceptional. Devy's songwriting isn't quite where it was with Ocean Machine, but his vocals are more consistant and his ideas excellent. Yes, at some points he rips himself off a bit with some layering affects, but it doesn't matter, simply because the end result is incredible. In the future, I'd hope to see more songs like Judgement with some incredible layering and pure power. Great stuff. This album only loses a ltitle steam at Vampolka/Vampira, but those songs are still fun. I tip my hat to you, Devy, you cannot be stopped. Let's ope the new SYL dominates as well.