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Devin Townsend | Physicist | review | metal | Lollipop

Devin Townsend

Physicist (HevyDevy)
by Scott Hefflon

Devin Townsend is a fuckin' genius. The guy's a great producer, has a voice you recognize instantly, and he can rip yer asshole a few inches wider with his guitarwork. But that's all technique, much like being a fast typist, it ain't art. Devin's genius is in his humor, his ability to meld lush "pop" melodies and production with brutal, pounding metal like absolutely no one else, and his ear for taking everything you every held as "typical" and shining a new light on it. While it's hard to put into words, the guy takes crushing riffs and Gene Hoglan's notoriously jaw-dropping drumming thunder and he puts a spin on them you'd never expect. From his work in Strapping Young Lad, we all realize the man's funny (the intro "Welcome to A&W, my name's Devin. Can I take your stinkin' order?" and the screamcore closing comment "What a miserable guy!"), but as he continues to become more subtle (I recall listening to City's chaotic, hyper-compact "Oh My Fucking God" and well-choreographed head-bang "Detox" and complaining that it wasn't as slapstick as Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing and a friend incredulously asking, "You don't think this is fuckin' hilarious?"), sometimes the fun is less obvious than "Bad Devil" on Infinity, his first solo record, or Physicist's "Irish Maiden."

More importantly, Devin Townsend writes riffs and produces them with so much density, his sound is completely original, and therefore wildly applaudable. Perhaps because he releases so much material under so many names (Strapping Young Lad, his lush metal solo work, the more ambient/less metal Ocean Machine, and Punky Brüster [the silly story of a death metal band that goes punk to make more money - the closer, a cover of the Ramones' "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" called "Metal Heads are Punk Rockers," is worth the price of the CD alone]), Devin's work is usually available only on his own label, HevyDevy, which aside from being very small, is based in his native Canada. Maybe the theory behind his label is that he can not get paid by his own label just as easily as not getting paid by Century Media (who releases the SYL records), I dunno. But I do know that HevyDevy has no U.S. distribution, so ya gotta write 'em or go to their site (hevydevy.com) if you want the goods. Yeah, that's extra work, but if you've ever noticed, I don't much like practically anything else metal fans are willing to settle for these days, and Devin boggles my jaded ears, so just fuckin' do it.

Record after record, I always kinda think Devin's taken a turn for the worse (seeing as I've memorized everything thus far and hold it dear), but like many greats, after a few listens I realize I was holding onto the past too much and goddamn do I love this new record. So Devin challenges convention and wins you over with each release, and I for one will recommend everything he does to anyone with any sense 'til I'm blue in the face. Devin's a pioneer, likes to be naked, and while he's a perfectionist (you can tell), he's a humble, funny, amazingly creative force.
(PO Box 153 Maple Ridge, BC, V2X 7G1 Canada)

   


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