Devin Townsend Project: Deconstruction & Ghost (Inside Out)
Having started this quad trilogy in 2009 with the albums Ki (9) and Addicted (9). Ki was a prog rock record that had a very sinister undertone. Devin was exorcizing the demons of Strapping Young Lad and did so with great affect, he combined his technical ability as both a guitarist and singer with intense musicality. Each one of these albums is meant to mirror a piece of their creator’s personality. Ki is most likely the creators post metal comedown. Addicted on the other hand was a more spirited and upbeat affair with songs that straddled metal and pop and featured the vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen from the Gathering. This is the sound of a man falling in love with his art again.
We then come on to the newest instalments to Deconstruction is far heavier than any other chapters, however before you get your hopes up it is not a new Strapping album. The elements are there but are not taken to the limit. What it is is the schizophrenic humorous nature of Townsend's writing. The heaviness is mixed with electronica and progressive-jazz like riffing, guest spots from Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth), Ihsahn (Emperor), Joe Duplantier (Gojira), Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan) and Floor Jansen (After Forever) means that the spirit of death metal with gruff vocals looms large. Devin himself reverts to his normal vocals rather than his Strapping screams leaving them to the guests. Deconstruction hits you like a ton of bricks and then proceeds to take off on a tangent all in the same song. Insane sounds of someone coming to terms with their past. 9/10
Ghost then is the final full chapter (before addition of extra album Ghost 2 available in September) and like the four parts that proceed it is totally different. Ghost is and acoustic based ambient almost New Age style record. The songs have little electric instruments relying more on acoustics, flutes, banjos, mandolins etc. All of this is put to an ambient backing that wouldn't be out of place on a chill out album. This does however seem to be the point as the two do need to be played together to appreciate, (or as I did play all four in order). If you’re a fan of Strapping then this album may not be for you however anyone who has heard Devin's solo albums will appreciate the understated pastoral genius of this album. 9/10
Rival Sons: Pressure and Time (Earache)
Coming out of the blocks like its 1970 Rival Sons are the newest in a long line of classic rock revivalists, having released one digital album and one e.p they release their newest album in Pressure and Time. Chock full of retro rock riffs the band brings to mind the late 60's and 70's San Francisco rock scene, equal parts rocking and bluesy some of the tracks have a hint of folk and a jam like feel, echoing the Grateful Dead. The band themselves play fantastically with every note coming through the retro but modern production. If you’re a fan of Zeppelin, early Aerosmith and the Doors then this will be one of your new favourite bands. On the other hand lack of originality can be a bands undoing. 8/10