Released: 2012, InsideOut Music/ HevyDevy Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
As his previous works with the likes of Strapping Young Lad, and solo collection of four ultimately-different albums, underlines - you never know quite what you’re going to get from Devin Townsend.
Much like a great artist or composer, (although he really falls into both of those categories) Devin seems very much to be operating in his own world. Luckily he always leaves behind a rabbit hole for you to follow through, and although there are no smiling cats or execution-happy queens evident, Epicloud does as always continue to feel like you’ve jumped into some part of his mind.
In fact, the works of Devin Townsend put me in the mindset of the film ‘Being John Malkovich’. Not least because as I previously alluded they act as a portal into his thinking, but more because I can imagine him entering his own head through the same process – essentially this is a man who very much knows what he is trying to say and from where he is saying it.
And the message of Epicloud is “THE TIME HAS COME TO FORGET ALL THE BULLS**T AND ROCK!” – as the lyrics of ‘Liberation’ put without a trace of pompous elegance. It is built around epic soundscapes, and captured-moods, but seems unable to wipe the smile off its face. If there’s an agenda, it’s not one that was painstakingly crafted beforehand in order to crank out a response, but a free-forming creative fun-athon. Like fingerpainting with music – only with Devin’s technical chops and ear for structure he’s only gone and painted a new industry darling in the process.
It’s also musically diverse placing a gospel choir up against heavier rock, pop-synths alongside take-off melodies. So whilst ‘Effervescent! fizzes with a Queen-style vocal harmony, the metallic edges in songs such as ‘More!’ are just slightly dulled as to be able to flirt without threat with the poppier chorus.
Once again Anneke Van Giersbergen demonstrates how well her vocals fit with those of Devin, particularly on the more emotive numbers such as ‘Where We Belong’ and ‘Divine’ which utilise melody to convey joy – making for slightly difficult listening first time round having become so engrained to associating such sounds with a suitably sad face. ‘Lucky Animals’ is equally an epic, but with its rock boots on – it almost sounds perfect for Hell’s own light-dinner entertainment, whilst in the same realm is party-time rock saga ‘Liberation’.
If you’re not so much a glass-half-empty but a glass-smashed-into-a-thousand-pieces kind of person, then Epicloud may not be the most appropriate soundtrack for your Friday night depress-fest. For the curious, the receptive, and the die-hards Epicloud may just remind you that music doesn’t move in nice straight lines, that you can sometimes blur the epic and the fun, and that somehow it all turns into gold in the mind of Devin Townsend.
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs