Monday, September 25, 2006

Exploring an artist: Devin Townsend

In 1993 Steve Vai released a CD called Sex & Religion. Albiet incredibly cheesy and terrible, it was a young Devin Townsends first foray into the realm of rockin' music. Even if it was with Steve Vai. From this experience, Townsend acquired a distaste for the music industry and for major record labels. However, his first musical "project," if you will, was done through Century Media. In 1995, the first taste we had of his work came in a little package called Strapping Young Lad. A combination of thrash, industrial, and progressive metal, it featured a very dense synth laden romp through extreme music, coupled with a keen sense of irony. Titled "Heavy as a Very Heavy Thing," it introduced the bitter, sarcastic, yelling side of, as he would be affectionately called by fans from this point on, "Hevy Devy."

2 Years Later, Devy would metaphorically drop his own personal atomic bomb on music. Entitled "City," the second SYL album was a multi-layered romp through a desolate urban landscape. It is quite possibly one of the heaviest albums made in the last 10 years. Even though on the surface the album is just loud, angry vocals and banging guitars, underneath it all is a very fine attention to detail. It is not just random noise. Devin created the closest thing to calculated madness that has ever been released.

Strapping Young Lad - SYL
Strapping Young Lad - Happy Camper
Strapping Young Lad - Oh My Fucking God
Strapping Young Lad - Detox

The best part about Townsend is his unique style that constantly evolves, but never seems unnatural. Not satisfied with the music industry and tired of being angry, he set out to create a new sound. While SYL's City was negative and angry, his next release, entitled Biomech, went in a completely different direction. So Devy constructed a new band. Ocean Machine: Biomech is the complete opposite of everything SYL represented. It was an atmospheric boat ride through happier lands with a brighter outlook on life.

From late 1997 to 2001, Devin released 4 solo albums. Along with Biomech was Infinity, Physicist, and Terria. While each was very different, they all had the sound of "Hevy Devy" on them. Devin assigned "Colours" to each album. While SYL would be considered red, Biomech is blue, Infinity is white, and Terria is Green. Physicist is more of a failed attempt to work with a member of metallica, which may or may not be viewed as a good thing.

Devin Townsend - Life
Devin Townsend - Christeen
Devin Townsend - Bad Devil
Devin Townsend - Namaste
Devin Townsend - Canada

2003 was a year that changed how Devin worked. Almost simultanesouly, Devy released a new self-titled SYL album, and an album entitled Accelerated Evolution. Accelerated Evolution was the first time an album was released under the moniker "The Devin Townsend Band." The two bands toured independantly for each of their releases, and while most SYL fans were not so fond of the self-titled release, Accelerated Evolution recieved widespread acclaim. In 2005, SYL made another release that many fans considered "sub-par." (whatever fans. I like them.)

Strapping Young Lad - Force Fed
The Devin Townsend Band - Storm
Strapping Young Lad - Love?

In early 2006, The Devin Townsend Band released Synchestra. The album is meant to be listened to as a whole, and follows a "story." Later, in July, Strapping Young Lad released their latest, and perhaps final, album, entitled The New Black. They toured with ozzfest(ew) to support it. Devy, according to various quotes, is sick of SYL.

The Devin Townsend Band - Vampira (Video)

The Devin Townsend Band - Gaia
Strapping Young Lad - You Suck
Strapping Young Lad - Wrong Side (Video)

Additional Links:
HevyDevy Records
SYL Myspace
DTB Myspace

1 comment:

fascistsoundwaves said...

Great post Daniel! Thorough and well put.