Thursday, August 18, 2011

Devin Townsend Project: Deconstruction (2011)


Devin Townsend's pedigree is unimpeachable. He's a brilliant songwriter and incredibly talented guitarist and vocalist. Some people drool at the very mention of his name, and would lick his boots no matter what he does. Much was made of the recording process, which involved symphonic elements and choirs and was simply a huge undertaking. So, the final heavy album of the Devin Townsend Project was one of the most highly-anticipated albums of the year. Could it possibly live up to the anticipation?

DeconstructionPut simply, no. It's a bloated, 71 minute mess, the kind of thing mockumentaries are made of. Opener "Praise the Lowered" starts out with some very quiet Phil Collins kind of stuff, then gets a little heavy. It's a six minute intro. The follow-up, "Stand", is nine minutes of build-up. Tension, but no release. In other words, this ridiculous opera starts out with over 17 minutes of intro.

The other extended compositions--the 11 minute "Planet of the Apes", 16 minute "The Mighty Masturbator", and 9 minute title track--are perfect illustrations of meandering prog excess. Random, disparate parts are strung together in endless array, few of which are heavy, memorable, or even interesting. They're punctuated by choirs, symphonies, synths, and I'm fairly certain I heard the kitchen sink in there as well. There are short parts in there that are quite good, and they remind you of what Hevy Devy can do, but they are rare and all too short.

Even the shorter cuts seem pointless. The 6 minute "Sumeria", for example, is a selection of random garbage played over the top of a so-so riff.

The only consistently redeeming feature of the album is Devin's own vocals. He uses his full range of growls, clean singing, and narration. The lyrics are injected with his quirky sense of humor, frivolity belying his deeper meanings. But lyrics don't matter much to me, and vocals alone don't save this otherwise laughable record.

The Verdict: This is Spinal Tap. If they had made a movie about the production of this thing, it would have been hilarious. Perhaps it is the work of an out-of-touch genius with a bloated ego and ideas bigger than he can pull off. On the other hand, given his well-known sense of humor, maybe Deconstruction is just a joke on all of us, to see if we'll just swallow any pill he prescribes. I give it 1 out of 5 stars.


  1. I'm not actually a big fan of Devin Townsend. I like the Strapping Young Lad stuff pretty well, but have not gotten into much of his other work.

    However, I would like to question whether this album was intentionally ridiculous like this. Townsend is well-known for his sense of humor, just look at Ziltoid. Is he trolling us?

  2. That's one of my theories. The other theory is that he's out of touch with heavy music. He's said himself he's just doing this for the fans, and that he's more into the soft ambient stuff like Ghost. It wasn't too long ago that he released the excellent (and quite unique) Addicted, so I'm leaning toward the trolling theory. Lots of people are eating this up, though.

  3. The reviewer doesn't know Dev very well and hasn't bothered to listen to any recent interviews. Clearly the point of this CD was to be so over-the-top it is just comical. I believe his point was something like "Look how complicated all this bullshit you have to calculate and figure out to see what life is all about! It's just absurd that I'm in such a position!" Not a joke album, but a clearly purposefully over-exaggerated bloated mess. Like his mind.

  4. Maybe he's been trolling interviewers as well. If the interviewers are like, "Devin, WTF, explain yourself?" He's likely not going to be like "You got me, if was a goof" but give comically bs answers like the one you mentioned. Furthermore, let's say the album is from the heart and he is being honest about this contrived mess. I'm not going to enjoy it any more because I know he's serious.

  5. He was not trolling... if you hear the album commentary in the Contain Us boxset you would know the record and understand it. Clearly, you don't understand Devin Townsend. He made these records (KI, Addicted, Deconstruction and Ghost) after he quit smoking, drinking and using drugs so if you hear the four of them in order you can get the message... and obviously, if you have no preconceived ideas. In my opinion: This is one of the best thinkgs I've heard last year. His kind of being ironic in songs like Juular when he speaks with the caracter Juular and he responds. This record its a journey through his last years of life and most specific, his struggle with it. So... stop saying nonsense.