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Album Reviews : Devin Townsend Project – Ki

By on June 27, 2009

kilargeWhen Devin Townsend is at the helm, you never know what to expect. ‘Ki’, the first in a series of four albums following Townsend’s mood over the last few years is unlike anything he has done before, which surprisingly isn’t surprising. While on one hand it’s the most restrained he has ever been, with only a few moments of heaviness that pull back before really exploding, it’s also the most relaxed to his name (well unless you count his ambient albums, I suppose). Townsend has never sounded freer.

The general subtly and ambience of tracks like “Winter” and “Terminal” almost make them sound more like sound-scapes than actual songs. Simple, quiet drumming with clean guitars dancing over the top and Townsend’s smooth, dream-like voice coming in and out of nowhere; they sound like jam-sessions at times. In fact the majority of the album follows that same style. It’s quite clear that the focus wasn’t to make a series of good songs, but to make the album, as a whole, an experience to listen to.

Of course, there are tracks that break this mould. The bass-heavy “Heaven Send” is the funkiest Townsend has been, and the combination of his clean vocals, powerful growls and guest female vocals sounds absolutely spectacular. And the guitar solo certainly is… interesting. “Gato” and “Disruptr” are some of the few moments where distortion actually kicks in, with the heavier parts somewhat akin to Ziltoid. Unlike the insanity of his past heavy material, it seems to teeter on the edge of madness before coming to a halt, making the ensuing softness sound even more tranquil.

Then comes “Trainfire”. If the absurdity of the Polka-influences on ‘Synchestra’ was up your alley, then you’ll get a kick out of this. Just when you thought he’d done everything, Townsend breaks out an Elvis impersonation. I’m not convinced it fits on the album, but as an individual song, it somehow works.

Like I said, this isn’t really written as a group of separate songs so there aren’t tracks that stand out. A couple will fly by without you even noticing, but most will have a certain hook or vocal melody somewhere that will catch your attention. If you’re a Townsend fan, you’ll want to hear this. Whether it becomes an album you regularly float off to, or just a once-off insight into a different side of the man, it’s an interesting listen. For those who, for some bizarre reason, do not want to hear him trying something different and just want more incredible screams, catchy hooks and insane heaviness: there are still three more albums coming out within the next 12 months, so don’t get your panties in a twist. 8.3/10

Band: Devin Townsend Project
Album: Ki
Year: 2009
Genre: Progressive rock
Label: SPV/Riot! Entertainment
Origin: Canada

Track listing:
1. A Monday
2. Coast
3. Disruptr
4. Gato
5. Terminal <- reviewers choice
6. Heaven Send
7. Ain’t Never Gonna Win…
8. Winter
9. Trainfire
10. Lady Helen
11. Ki
12. Quiet Riot
13. Demon League


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.