Epicloud is said to be both epic and loud and to be honest that doesn't even come close. Opening with he choral Effervescent! This segues into the electronic and pulsating True North which is insistent and repetitive until it breaks into the breakdown heavy middle section before coming back and setting the euphoric tone of the album. The album flows excellent with all the tracks linking together forming a complete whole. Lucky Animals follows next and is a massive hook-filled shout along which is in opposition to the next track which is the fast and thrashy Liberation. This is Devin on gloriously deranged form bringing together all of his previous DTP offerings on one disc with next track Where We Belong coming straight off the Ki album with its ambient and acoustic presentation which demonstrates the many layers there are to this album. With the band all matching Devin's fantastic musicality the album performance is fantastic and personally it is nice to hear the supremely gifted voice of Anneke Van Giersbergen making a comeback on the majority of tracks adding to multi-tracked vocals of Devin, the gospel choirs and gang vocals. Van Giersbergen's contribution is most noticeable the electronica based Save Our Now before everything is crushed in the metallic path of Kingdom (which has been re-recorded since its original debut on Physicist) and still maintains its original power. The love-song of Divine is just that and could be the most understated and beautiful song he has ever written, however the acoustic intro to Grace is just a diversion before the double kick drum explodes any of the sentimentality that has gathered with it's almost Strapping Young Lad heaviness Townsend mixing his classical croon and scream to great effect. This album is unrelenting with every track based imbued with a sense madness and extreme talent that have become Devin's trademark, many of the tracks also have Townsend's immense sense of fun. This is shown by More! which brings to mind the pop-metal of Addicted!! there is a small rest bite with the (almost) instrumental Lessons which is the opening to the anthemic Hold On which serves as the perfect penultimate track before the wall-of-sound chorus of final track Angel grabs you by the throat before the rest of the track builds into a suitably epic (and loud) finale leaving you both ecstatic and exhausted as the final note of the choir rings out. This is truly Devin's masterpiece bringing together everything that makes him one of most talented people in music. Simply awesome! 10/10
This is the bonus disc of demos that come with the special edition and it features the tracks that were left off the album in demo style. These are not really demo’s per-se as they are just the songs as they were recorded without any post-production. The Ghost-like Believe is both stripped back and laidback full of brushed drums and gentle acoustic strumming. Before Anneke's voice hauntingly floats over the trip-hop/rock of Happy Birthday, the disconcerting rock-riffage of Quietus follows and gives the album a gothic vibe with Van Giersbergen's vocals prominent on this as well before it (mental) breaks down into an off-kilter horror film pastiche. This album too features 'The Project' all playing their hearts out and even without all of the post-production of the main album. If anything this album is more varied than its big brother as the country-blues of Heatwave (which is about the joys of rain ironically) shows. The pulsing Love Tonight is one of the weaker tracks due to the fact that it is quite generic Devin but this idea is wiped away by the jazzy almost tribal weirdness The Mind Wasp which starts out slow and gains a lot of noise at its end, from here things get heavier with Woah No! which is a Strapping song under a different banner. Love And Marriage is a fighting couple set to music with a stunning guitar solo in the middle. It’s the middle-eastern opening and influence on album set-piece Socialization that makes its schizophrenic blitzkrieg assault even better; it also features another face-melting solo and drifts off into a piano lounge piece. This is all capped off by the simple acoustical jam of Little Pig which is as stripped down as Devin will ever get and is full of country bonhomie that leaves you with a smile on your face (and brings to mind Outside The Wall the final track on Pink Floyd’s The Wall.) This again is another fantastic offering and is better than a lot of other artists main albums considering it is full of songs that are just demos (albeit very accomplished demos) this is Devin showing that he even has gold in his closet and this album is as strong and more varied in presentation as Epicloud but it is let down by one or two ‘safe’ tracks. 9/10
Both these albums need to be purchased and listened to from top to bottom to truly appreciate how good they are. Together they are one of the best volumes of music released this year, individually they are still both exceptional pieces of music well worth the time of any rock/metal lover.