Review : DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT – "Ghost"

Devin Townsend ProjectGhost
Release: 2011Jun20 (US)
Label: InsideOut Music / HevyDevy Records
Rating: 5/5

When a group simultaneously releases two albums, it is often with the idea that the two have diverging themes; the songs may have been written around the same time or even recorded in the same sessions, but for whatever reason were deemed unfitting for each other. More often than not, however, the two will at least reflect each other in minor ways, such as with similar lyrical themes or a shared quality of production.

Crushing all ideas of similitude, the Devin Townsend Project chose to release Deconstruction and Ghost together. These two records are literally antitheses of each other. The former is the crazed, possibly drug-addicted high school dropout who listens to Priest and Maiden, drives a pickup truck, and often has to ask mom and dad for money. The latter went to college with a major in philosophy, got a PhD, and now teaches at Yale, living with his wife, son and daughter. He gets along great with his kids and sees divorce as a physical impossibility. Now, this outlandish analogy is essentially here to say that these albums are FUCKING DIFFERENT. I hate to type in all caps, but I can’t drive this point home enough. Hell, if this was any other artist, a review of this record would not even exist on this website. Metal is the farthest thing from what it could be described as, but it’s just so good.

Ghost is the fourth and final album in a series inaugurated by the release of Ki in 2009. It is representative, at least to me, of Devin’s now-complete metamorphosis into the sober, clear-minded individual that he is today. At times in his career, he could have been described as everything from a crazed madmen to an insane lunatic (artistically speaking), but this record is hardly the same person. Best described as New Age in terms of its musical style, Ghost is numbingly beautiful, giving Townsend a chance to bring his unique, wall-of-sound production style to an entirely different school of music, and with incredible results.

As I mentioned in my review of Deconstruction (which can be found here), what impresses me most about Townsend is his ability to change vocal styles on a whim and nail each convincingly. Now, he doesn’t show this off on Ghost, but if you know any of his other stuff, you’ll recognize how different his work here is from the rest of his catalogue. The notes he lets out may as well be sung by an angel. Each tone rings with incredible clarity and a relaxing peacefulness, especially juxtaposed against his heavier side.

What makes this album shine, however, is the top-of-the-line musicianship. Townsend recruited musicians to play keys, flute, woodwinds, and a female vocalist by the name of Katrina Natále who interacts perfectly with Devin’s voice. It’s like the two are a seasoned pair of ballroom dancers, their chemistry indescribably beautiful. Hardest to believe is that this — like all four of these DTP releases — is recorded with a fresh lineup. Ghost sounds far too in sync for having just met . Let’s hope they somehow get the chance to reunite and make more music together.

If you are strictly a metalhead, I cannot recommend this album to you. However, if you have a more open mind to stuff that lacks any and all aggression, I would, at the very least, give this record a chance. After all, I like it enough to give it my first 5/5 of 2011. Don’t be surprised if it ends up high on my year-end list.

FCC OK
Try: 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12

01. Fly
02. Heart Baby
03. Feather
04. Kawaii
05. Ghost
06. Blackberry
07. Monsoon
08. Dark Matters
09. Texada
10. Seams
11. Infinite Ocean
12. As You Were

~Willie Strausser

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