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Devin Townsend Project - "Deconstruction" (CD)

Devin Townsend Project - "Deconstruction" CD cover image

"Deconstruction" track listing:

1. Praise the Lowered
2. Stand
3. Juular
4. Planet of the Apes
5. Sumeria
6. The Mighty Masturbator
7. Pandemic
8. Deconstruction
9. Poltergeist

Reviewed by on July 18, 2011

"Bizarre, bold, and easily the most truly progressive record of the year, 'Deconstruction' is a game-changer and Devin Townsend has done for metal what John Coltrane did for jazz."

Known for his over-the-top songs, revolutionary music production, and all-around dedication to innovation in metal, Devin Townsend presents his third musical endeavor under the Devin Townsend Project name - "Deconstruction." It's best you don't listen to this album hoping to understand it the first time through or your head will explode. For those unfamiliar with Devin Townsend, he has quite the extensive back catalog that you'd better catch up on before taking this on. If this is your first introduction to Devy, god help you.

On "Deconstruction," you'll find a number of musical styles at work, wriggling around each other like worms in a fishing bait box, constantly defying you to choose a word to describe it. Defining the combination of sounds is a real nightmare, and it's probably safe to say that Townsend's style has become as identifiable as film composers Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer. Devin's voice is at its most varied here, ranging from whisper-singing to raging ghost-wails, with a whole lot of his trademark scream-singing.

Devin's backing band, for this album, consists mostly of Dirk Verbeuren (of Soilwork) on drums and occasionally Ryan VanPoederooyen on drums on other songs. It's a 6/4 split, with Dirk taking most of the extreme parts, though Ryan's parts are by no means easy. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra backs the songs, Meshuggah's Fredrik Thordendal has a guest solo, and several guest vocalists make appearances. Other than that, Devy takes care of every instrument himself, as well as every bit of programming.

"Praise The Lowered" brings us into this rabbit hole of an album, morphing from light and almost soothing into heavy, leading into "Stand." The song builds and vocal theatrics abound, followed by all sorts of programming and soundscape-creating sonic effects. Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt lends a powerful undercurrent of death growls to the song's main line. "Juular" comes with a great deal of pomp and an undeniable polka-type rhythm, as well as a guest vocal appearance by Ihsahn (of Ihsahn/Emperor.)

At this point, it should be clear that the lyrics could be about anything, really. What we have here is a glimpse into what Devin has said in interviews is balls-to-the-wall intensity for intensity's sake. There are plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments as well, given that "Deconstruction" deals with cheeseburgers and Devin even sings, "We all rip off Meshuggah!"

"Planet of the Apes," "Pandemic," and "Poltergeist" are easily the most blisteringly fast and consistent of the album, while "Sumeria" is the major headbanger of the record with its bludgeoning double-kick groove. "The Mighty Masturbator" treads new ground, with an intergalactic rave segment and a total time of near seventeen minutes. Here's where the theatrics are at their height.

This could very well be Devin Townsend's magnum opus, satisfying on nearly every level and packed with enough to reveal something new each listen. There has to be several hundred of Devin's vocal tracks on this album alone. Bizarre, bold, and easily the most truly progressive record of the year, "Deconstruction" is a game-changer and Devin Townsend has done for metal what John Coltrane did for jazz. Unfortunately, he'll probably turn off just as many people who just don't get it.

Highs: "Deconstruction," "The Mighty Masturbator," "Sumeria"

Lows: There is simply too much going on. It's almost too A.D.D. for its own good.

Bottom line: An almost impossibly grand and schizophrenic offering that might just be the craziest thing you've ever heard.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)