Released: 2000, Hevy Devy Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Everyone should know who Devin Townsend is by now. Over the last decade, this guy’s been very busy with such projects as Steve Vai, The Wildhearts, Strapping Young Lad, Ocean Machine, Infinity, and the latest endeavor Physicist. Ass-Sordid Demos is a compilation of some of Devin’s work between 1990 and 1996 that has gone unreleased. Although these are labeled “demos”, they have an album-quality sound. But upon listening to the disc, it will become apparent why they have been buried for so long. Not that these songs are crap, it’s just that most of his previously recorded material outshines this material.
Three songs (“Man”, “Promise”, “Red Tomorrow”) originally written in 1990 were re-recorded in 1996. Back in the day, “Man” appeared on Devin’s “Noisescapes” demo which grabbed Steve Vai and Relativity’s attention and led to Devin’s collaboration with said guitar wizard. “Man” and “Red Tomorrow” have a straightforward metal approach, to an extent, but with keyboards…sounding overall like crowd favorites at an arena live show. I just picture it being 1987, and Devin up there on a huge stage with beaming lights and people going nuts while his band plays these songs. Sounds pretty accessible perhaps, but it’s a pretty cool fucking song. Besides, you’ll listen to these two songs and thing “what in the fuck is Nathan talking about?” “Promise” takes a U-turn, sounding pretty atmospheric, and eerie…a bit like Faith No More’s Angel Dust. Not too much vocals on this one. Clocking in at over eight minutes, Devin found “Ocean Machines” too long to put on the actual Ocean Machine album. Sure it’s long, but hell, this song is great! It’s pretty laid back, and a bit upbeat, but still has some fair amount of heaviness. It’s probably the best song on this disc, and definitely worthy of being on the Ocean Machine’s Biomech. Nice to finally hear this song! “L.A.” was written back in 1993 while Devin was involved in Steve Vai’s project. Devin described the vibe as “lonely and overly emotive”, and it sure as hell sounds like it. Just Devin’s unmistakable voice and a clean, gentle guitar. Damn cool song. “Morwar” is an Infinity song described as the one having “the most chaos”. That, to me, could possibly mean it’s the best Infinity song, because chaos is good! But if that’s the case, I’m sure as hell not buying the Infinity disc. I never had an urge to get it, and this song totally quells any further interest in that project. It’s too happy and poppy for me. Next is the little jazz ditty “Amsterdam” Devin wrote while still in high school. As far as jazz goes, this song’s pretty bad. But to listen to it as a Devin Townsend song, it’s not so bad. Definitely not a serious effort. It almost sounds like a mockery of jazz! “My Girl” is another track written around the time of Devin’s work with Steve Vai. This song is partially jazzy song, but this time the old style, lazy, boring style of jazz, but with a dark element to it. Again some parts remind me of Faith No More. “Road Kill” is definitely not a serious song. Devin wrote this back in high school with his old band Grey Skies. It features a plagiarized Metallica “No Remorse” riff along with some retarded and humorous lyrics: “furry little squirrel looking for some nuts (hand me a napkin), and then a Hyundai hits it, spewing out his guts”. “That’s Life” closes the disc and features Devin behind the keyboards for three minutes. Nothing really going on in this song, just a little atmosphere I guess…
Overall, this CD isn’t something to make a mess in your pants about. Some of the songs are pretty damn good, while others are good for that occasional listen. But serious Devin Townsend fans should grab this thing while it’s available. Although released on Hevy Devy Records, this is more like a bootleg. It’s a CDR, and only comes with a front cover, no back inlay. And it’s only available from Hevy Devy: http://www.hevydevy.com/hevydevy/index.html