Let this be known by all bands: Album samplers are a really bad idea. What I mean by ‘sampler’ is a single track, usually placed on MySpace, made up of bits of other tracks spliced together. You see, I’m a huge fan of Devin Townsend. I own pretty much everything he ever recorded (including Strapping Young Lad), and not all of it is good (let’s be honest, Ziltoid is a bit pants). After hearing the album sampler of Addicted, Townsend’s second album this year, I thought “oh well, you can’t win them all”. I actually didn’t bother rushing out to buy it after hearing this. After all, attempting to record 4 albums in a year was always going to result in a bit of dross right? Obviously Townsend decided to get that over and done with on one album.
Wrong. Addicted takes a bit of getting used to. Harking largely back to Townsend’s earlier solo work, these darkened pop songs are about as far removed from SYL as he’s likely to get, and a massive departure from the progish restraint of quartet opener Ki. There’s heaviness here aplenty but it’s tempered by Townsend’s keen ear for melody. Vocal duties are a tag team effort between the bald one and Dutch chanteuse Anneke van Giersbergen, which sometimes feels a little disjointed, but for the most part softens and brightens proceedings.
This collection not only hangs together, but taken as a whole is actually quite affecting. Even ill-advised Coldplay pandering dirges like Ih-Ah! don’t manage to spoil the party. Highlights Awake! and the magnificent re-interpretation of Hyperdrive (which originally appeared in more muted form on Ziltoid) will have Townsend fans slavering for more.
Addicted just can’t be digested in little chunks, it needs to be lived with, which is why the sampler was such a bad idea – it just doesn’t do the album justice. This is no shallow pop album, but an asserted statement from one of metal’s grand conjurors. It’s not his best – it’s a far cry from the heady heights of Terria and Alien – and I think that Ki will stand the test time more gracefully. It’s also probably his least experimental, daring or (dare I say it) zany recording. So no boundaries pushed here, just a display of first class pop artistry.
Townsend will continue turning the rumour mill on what the final 2 DTP albums will sound like. The next instalment, Deconstruction, was originally touted as SYL by any other name. Townsend has since retracted this rumour, but as long as he keeps this sort of quality up, I’m not sure if I’ll mind that much if it sounds like M-People.