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Devin Townsend Project - "Ghost" (CD)

Devin Townsend Project - "Ghost" CD cover image

"Ghost" track listing:

1. Fly
2. Heart Baby
3. Feather
4. Kawaii
5. Ghost
6. Blackberry
7. Monsoon
9. Dark Matters
10. Texada
11. Seams
12. Infinite Ocean
13. As You Were

Reviewed by on July 18, 2011

"The whole experience is beautiful if you're the type to appreciate a metal musician being surprisingly awesome at being non-metal."

The same Devin Townsend responsible for ferociously heavy records now shows us the softer side of Devy with "Ghost." Oftentimes calling up memories of parts of earlier Devin Townsend Band records, this album is a polar opposite to its wildly metal companion album, "Deconstruction." It's best to view these records as yin and yang, with one as a necessary reaction to the other.

With a variety of instruments and programming, Townsend still refuses to go for a simple approach. Flautist Kat Epple is on a majority of the tracks, introducing the album and maintaining flow between songs. "Fly" and "Heart Baby" establish the direction of the album and even bring in some nature sounds like wolves, ocean waves, and a few ambiance-setting elements. Acoustic guitar and clean electric guitar are Devin's primary instruments here, and they shine on "Feather," easily a highlight of the album.

Utilizing a female vocalist who hadn't been trained in any specific way of singing yet, Devin tapped into a pure stream of singing on purpose, as Devin admitted in interviews, to get a voice free of commercial molding. "Ghost" has folky elements that show through in the gently swaying strum of acoustic guitar set to brushed drums. Surprisingly, synthesizers smacking of "Sur La Mer"-era Moody Blues can be found on most of the record, doing what Devin does best: creating worlds of sound with depth and space.

"Blackberry" starts out with the sound of toads on a river and comes in with a distinctly soft rock-bluegrass feel. The song builds to be a highlight of the album, along with the delightfully synthesized "Texada," which feels much like an ode to noted video game composer Nobuo Uematsu. "Monsoon," "Dark Matters," and "Seams" are okay tracks for their feeling, but they don't stand out much and act more transitional. "Infinite Ocean," on the other hand, gently unfolds and rolls, cresting cool and easy as its name implies.

"As You Were" caps the experience with more nature sounds and easy listening. The whole experience is beautiful if you're the type to appreciate a metal musician being surprisingly awesome at being non-metal. It feels like Townsend tapped a vein here that he had always wanted to tap in a more substantial fashion. It's polarizing, though -- you'll either love it or think you've already heard it as backing music in National Geographic videos. Welcome to Devin Townsend's world.

Highs: "Blackberry," "Ghost," "Feather"

Lows: The album begs to be misunderstood.

Bottom line: Love it or leave it -- Here's the softer side of Devin Townsend.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)