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Theatrical, Humorous, Enjoyable, and Powerful - 85%

JTR4, July 14th, 2012

All of the above words are fine adjectives to describe this album. For a musical concoction of this caliber to be created by one man warrants enormous amounts of praise. The soaring choirs, various vocal styles, and impressive musical compositions all come together to prove the skill that Devin Townsend has with his sonic craft. With unending passion, Devin exudes musical genius and precision in his most impressive work to date.

The album gets off to a slow start, but gradually picks up speed. Album opener, "Praise the Lowered," is the least heavy track on the album, and the first half of the track creates a tranquil atmosphere. Breaking through the calm comes the last half of the track which is made up of similarly slow-paced, but heavier music. Electric guitars make their presence known along with darker vocals. "Stand" features some well-placed choir effects, a solid guitar solo, and guest vocals from Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt. My only gripe about Mikael being used for this song is that he wasn't used very much.

"Juular", "Sumeria", "Pandemic", and "Poltergeist" are the four tracks on this album which are faster-paced. The energy is spread throughout the album and "Poltergeist" makes for an excellent album closer. The longer tracks on the album such as "Planet of the Apes", "The Mighty Masturbator", and "Deconstruction" all add to atmosphere. All three songs either move along in a slow or mid-paced manner, and also have some very humorous lyrics. "The Mighty Masturbator" contains some dramatic musical build-ups in the forms of chanting beats, dark vocals, and an ever intensifying sound. Title track, "Deconstruction" features some of the more random and ridiculous lyrical content.

When reading through the lyrics on this album, it's easy to see that Devin's comical side is captured on this album. Talk of cheeseburgers, "savin' the world boots", and "vegi-ma-tarian's" are all found throughout several songs. Devin even makes a joke about how so many bands have copied Meshuggah's guitar style with the line "While we all have lots of bands who influence still…we all rip off Meshuggah!" And what humorous album would be complete without fart sound effects like the ones used at the beginning of the song, "Deconstruction?"

Despite all the positive elements that the album puts forth, it is not without faults. The main problem this album suffers from is that tracks 2 - 8 lack much identity. You could take almost any portion of music from any of those tracks and not know which song you were listening to. The album is best listened to as a single entity, and the atmosphere throughout the album is very consistent. However, due to its consistency, it's difficult to tell tracks apart. "Praise the Lowered" and "Poltergeist" are the exceptions because "Praise the Lowered" is the least heavy song on the album and "Poltergeist" is one of the most powerful and heavy songs found here. All of the songs in-between don't have too many distinguishing characteristics other than some of Devin's sound effects. Despite this drawback, the album is still a fun listen, and progressive metal fans will definitely enjoy this.