Devin Townsend - "Physicist" (HevyDevy)
By: Kev Truong
Utterly amazing. That really is the only way to describe an album like this. There has never been a musician who could create the complexity and intricacy found on this here record like Devin Townsend. Since the inception of heavy music itself, it's rare to find an album that is as dynamic while subtle but downright overwhelming as 'Physicist'.
A conglomeration of Ocean Machine's melody and complex layering, Infinity's extravagance and astral projections and Strapping Young Lad's rip-your-skin chaotic noisiness, 'Physicist' while albeit weird as all hell contains, simply put, music of seraphic proportions. The guitars that grate like bench-grinders on concrete contrast the celestial keyboard passages that this album breathes in and out. Like mist the synth melodies seep from out of the heart of this record. The drumming punches and pierces like pneumatic nail guns and the vocals of a truly talented man both drift and bombard, and everything in between. The sheer layers of 'Physicist' make this album impossible to understand, but that's what makes it so damn incredible.
There are three recognisable motifs throughout the CD. A glossy-goodness holds a strong presence in the beginning, a squeaky-clean that stands out in a world where for metal albums dirtier is better. The slick sound gives it a larger-than-life feel, and in all reality no mere mortal could have produced this mass amalgam of sonic information. 'Namaste' and 'Material' on the surface could almost pass as pop singles in their sparkling feel-good aura, especially the latter. But what sets it apart from the translucent mainstream tripe is the subtle nuances, the minute additions to the sound that create this vibrant atmosphere that's teeming with movement.
From the catchy simplistic opening numbers emerges the darker and more twisted headtrips, the second theme of the album. The brilliant 'Kingdom' acts as a segue, and the snarling 'Death' and 'Devoid' present the second facet of 'Physicist'. Perhaps the best indications of where Strapping lies nowadays, these more blasting tracks are the heavier side of the CD.
Bridging from the angsty and chaotic centre we reach the stage where anything goes, the collection of epic songs where multitudes of sounds attack us and sheer trippiness prevails. 'The Complex' marks the change and is one of the highlights of the album, a true signpost to the dynamics of 'Physicist'. Weirdness comes out in bounds in the intentionally haughty 'Irish Maiden', but the true epic lies in the monster 'Planet Rain', a 11-minute pure headtrip that remains succinct but hugely sweeping in it's capacity. The keyboards that played such an important role in the lead-up to this suddenly become like church organs, a sound of sheer size. The proportions of this song are indescribable, and the die down into sounds of rain pulls the album back to reality.
This may be a lengthy review, but that's what is needed to really understand the scope of this album. A bonus track called 'Forgotten' which uses the same lyrics as Infinity's 'Bad Devil' makes a surprise entry, not particularly adding anything to the album but making it end on a "pervert note" as Townsend himself says. Nonetheless, the man has come up with all aces yet again- 'Physicist' while probably being the weirdest metal album this year is no doubt one of the best. Like I said, utterly amazing.
Score - 10/10
Reviewed by: Kev Truong