Sound — 10
HO. LEE. HELL. Is the very thought running through my mind. Quite possibly the best album of Devin Townsend's career. Well now that's over with... ...Jokes, but seriously. "Deconstruction" is one the most hotly tipped albums of the year, and for good reason: Orchestra? Check. 12 famous guest musicians including vocalists and instrumentalists? Check. A song called "The Mighty Masturbator"? CHECKMATE. Lets just keep this simple, a deconstruction of a chees-erm, song. The title track, "Deconstruction", is the pinnacle of all of Devin's work and creativity, one of those songs that just sticks with you, not because of a catchy chorus, specifically good riff or notable chord progression but because it is downright fun. Starting with a dialogue between two scientists in a public toilet (you can guess why its in a public toilet), it goes into this hyperactive, crazy riff and the mention of cheeseburgers, that just goes into a half serious, half insane mixture between happy riffs (this is all very oxymoronic) and tremelarpeggios (tremolo picked arpeggios) with the catchy prog-grooves of none other than Dirk Verbeuren (one of, in my opinion, the most technical metal drummers alive) and a choral/orchestral backdrop. The vocals of Mr Hevydevy are more along the lines of a narrator having too much fun with his project: "...Drugs, sex and money? Fine! OOo, I need to get myself some drugs, then when I get the money, ladies will know I'm the man... because I ain't gonna be questioned for sex if I ain't living in poverty and if I ain't got no disease, in fact you could say I was the logical choice!" And on to an epic chorus-like section (its never repeated) that just seeps of EPIC epic sound. This is only 2:30 into the 9 minute epic. Safe to say then, you will have never heard so much guitar wizardry, extreme melodic magnificence and utter hilarity within one song. And it also has a signature solo from Fredrik Thordendal (!) of Meshuggah. The rest of "Deconstruction" is a bit more restrained, but by no means toned down. "Sumeria" is a fist-pounding chug fest which is held by its repetition and vocal appearances of Joe Duplantier (!) of Gojira doing clean and harsh vocals and Paul Masvidal (!) of Cynic having a whole 2 minutes of his own for a soft ending. "Juular" is the more consistent, constant death/black track along the lines of "New Black" era SYL and "Prometheus" era Emperor, plus the Disney Orchestra from Hell, and none other than Ihsahn (!) on vocals ("I survive, nothing ever bothers Juular"). "Mighty Masturbator" is perhaps, the soundtrack to Devin. 16 minutes of metal, industrial rock, medieval guitars, carnival/funfair music and a speech dedicated to the man himself, its just so overdone that you have to give him respect. I thought I'd heard the most fluidly written symphonic metal album this year ("The Great Mass") and thought there'd never be anything quite like it again. But then in comes Devin and his magical production hands. Coupled with his suitably massive sound of heavy layering, reverbed recording, dense instrument multi-tracking and guest list from hell, and I really don't know how anyone could top this.
Lyrics — 8
The vocalist list includes: Paul Kuhr (November's Doom) Mikael kerfeldt (Opeth, Bloodbath) Ihsahn (ex-Emperor) Tommy Giles Rogers (Between The Buried And Me) Joe Duplantier (Gojira, ex-Cavalera Conspiracy) Paul Masvidal (ex-Death, Cynic) Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan) Floor Jansen (ex-After Forever, ReVamp) Oderus Urungus (Gwar) Frankly, one of the best line-ups for anything I've ever set eyes on. Their performances range from high impact roles to backing vocal support, with the most impressing performance (again, this is my opinion) being from Ihsahn on "Juular", followed by Floor Jansen on "Pandemic" (blimey, that lady can sing). The least impressing performance is from Tommy Rogers on "Planet of the Apes", who's vocals get lost among the heavy guitars and orchestration and that's followed by (sadly) Mikael Akerfeldt, who gets little more than a few growling lines on "Stand". Greg Puciato should be mentioned for his diverse singing and screaming performance on "Mighty Masturbator", having lines like "We praise god/we praise Satan/we praise ourselves" but each musician performs to his or her best, despite their varying degrees of impact. But Devin himself is also on a roll with this one. Despite taking a bit a back seat from screaming, he has instead worked his magic into some amazing guitar work and his faux-soprano voice. There are times on "Deconstruction" where he sings in the ranges not really meant for the male voice box and its just one of the most sublime moments of time when he really lets it loose, such as on the title track and "Mighty Masturbator". Lyrically, its perhaps its his most abstract work. The whole thing is the "deconstruction" of human mentality and state of being using examples such as fame ("Mighty Masturbator"), the science of love (Title track) and surviving in general ("Juular"). These lyrics are all added with total tongue-in-cheek jokes, japes and general enthusiasm: This can range from fart samples and multiple uses of "penis" to musical shifts from super heavy metal to fairground music.
Overall Impression — 10
This is one corker of an album. If you have any interest in anything, at all, whatever it is, it doesn't even need to be relevant to anything at all, then get this album. That more or less includes everyone. Of course, I may be forcing it down your throat but give it time, the songs will sink in and so will the craziness. However, it's not for everyone, but you don't have to be a total metal head to love it. It might appear to be the greatest ego stroker ever, but this is far from it, "Deconstruction" is the sound of one man doing what can be done. Also, I quite fancy a cheeseburger. Songs to look out for: "Praise The Lowered", "Juular", "Planet Of The Apes", "Sumeria", "Mighty Masturbator", "Pandemic", "Deconstruction".