Album Reviews

Addicted – The Devin Townsend Project

  • Review by: Ananth Bevinahally

Devin Townsend. That name has long been associated with some of the most inspired music I have ever heard. Ambient, progressive, heavy, mellow – you name it, he’s done it.

A unique ability to pull off virtually any form of ‘metal’ vocals and an expertise, while not virtuosic but innovative nevertheless, at guitar playing are some of the hallmarks of this amazing musician. His style of production gives the term multi-tracking a whole new definition and is the best exponent of the “Wall of Sound” production method that I’ve heard of. Enough with the introduction and fanboy praises.

The albums Ki and Addicted are part of a four album series under the moniker of The Devin Townsend Project and were released almost together. Ki was released after a small hiatus during which he underwent a major overhaul in his personal life which included him stopping the use of drugs. Ki was a major shock for me. It had none of the elements I had associated with Devin Townsend. No fancy multilayered elaborate arrangements, no trippy riffs and soaring vocals. I was instead greeted with really mellow old school prog rock riffing and very controlled aggression in songs such as Gato. One gets the sense that there’s a remarkable turnaround in his persona and I definitely loved the new direction that he was taking.

Addicted is a return to what Devin is famous for albeit with a slight electronic element. Addicted definitely picks up from the ending of Ki, in the sense that the sound undergoes a slow metamorphosis into metal, beginning with the title track. This is an album I wouldn’t appreciate a few years back. It has a large quantity of ‘dance’ beats and seemingly ‘alternative’ elements. Anneke van Giersbergen, famous for her work with Ayreon and The Gathering, provides a substantial amount of vocals which gives it a near Pop sound. Devin Townsend’s [henceforth referred to as DT] choice of drummer is his staple, Ryan Van Poederooyen who puts up a commendable performance.

The track that really put me into the mood was Supercrush!, the intro being an explosive and a typically epic DT piece. Anneke’s subsequent slow and steady verse culminates with the recurrence of that epic piece that well and truly envelopes the listener with that wall of sound and marks a return of the vintage DT soaring, elevating, awe-inspiring vocals with personal lyrics clearly referring to his turbulent past. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s incredibly exhilarating and uplifting listening to the chorus. This song alone is reason enough to listen to the album. Next up is Hyperdrive!, which is a remake of the song from Ziltoid, his last release before the hiatus. Musically, Hyperdrive clearly fit into the Ziltoid scheme of things. It’s amazing how the remade version of the same song fits beautifully into Addicted. Instead of DT’s haunting voice, it was the almost pop voice of Anneke, was more ambient and had the electronic elements that exist throughout Addicted.

Addicted has a lot of the usual DT vague absurdity which includes his desire to intentionally make it sound “commercial, yet heavy”. I like his idea/guts of going out of the ordinary to do what a lot of people would be afraid of doing solely because of the possible repercussions. While it is by no means generic, I was mildly disappointed with this release because I got mildly bored with the female vocals and the fact that he has set high standards for himself due to earlier epic albums and hence this sort of paled in comparison. It is also by no means as special or unique an album as Ocean Machine or Accelerated Evolution but clearly, even after 11 solo releases, DT hasn’t lost it. This album, just like other DT albums, requires patience and open mind. If you have the latter, you will enjoy this album but it probably won’t blow away your mind. The remaining two albums are on the cards with Deconstruction and Ghosts set to be released next year. The former, supposedly the most extreme of his works and the intended high point of the series, is to terminate with a purely ambient and mellow album in the form of Ghosts. Hence, as a part of a 4 album series, Addicted is a good component though I wouldn’t appreciate it as much if it were a standalone album.

I give it an 8/10.