Devin Townsend - _Synchestra_
(Hevy Devy Records, 2006)
by: Jackie Smit (
In contrast to Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend's solo outlet hasn't quite been the roaring tidal wave of late that early releases indicated it would be. His last release, _Accelerated Evolution_, was by no means poor, but it certainly did seem on the face of the record's many mainstream-baiting moments that a pre-nervous breakdown Devin -- put on display to staggering results on the likes of _Ocean Machine_ and _Infinity_ -- had more to say than his decidedly (mentally) healthier incarnation. So with _Synchestra_ being touted as the emotional negative of Strapping's blistering _Alien_, I approached it with trepidation.The good news is that _Synchestra_ -- for all its layered, major chord overtures -- does hark back to the eccentric narcosis of _Infinity_. Devin urging the listener to procreate on "Babysong", and the particularly schizophrenic "Vampolka" provide ample evidence to support this. This is not to say that _Synchestra_ is an entirely eclectic exercise however. The beautifully soothing acoustic piece that heralds the start of the album is perhaps Devin at his most simplistic, while serving as an ideal build-up to the now trademark wall of sound that shatters the tranquil atmosphere on "Triumph".It's unlikely that Devin will explore the somber tones of his earlier solo work ever again, and given the fact that it damn near killed him the last time he did, you'd be hard pressed to begrudge him that. Despite its predilection to celebrate all that is good in life, _Synchestra_ is nonetheless a powerful, emotive and highly enjoyable record, which can comfortably hold its own with the best that heavy metal's mad scientist has delivered so far.
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