"Alien" (Century Media; 2005)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

My first encounter with Devin Townsend was through Steve Vai on his 1993 CD entitled "Sex & Religion." I thought Townsend was bipolar then but his voice was so amazing and he was so out there at the same time that I tried to find some information on the guy. I never did pursue it past the point of buying anything he did, but then this CD crossed my path and I realized I should have searched a little bit more.  

Devin Townsend sports his "Skullet" on the liner notes and if you have ever seen the cartoon Dethklock then you might think that the drummer character, "Pickles," looks just like him ... although there has been no confirmation it was intentional.


After researching this CD's conception, my initial diagnosis of Devin's bipolar disorder was correct and to make this CD swing from normal to abnormal he stopped taking his medication(!) while writing it with drummer Glen Hoglan.


While extreme in sound, this CD also has eerie male, female and children's vocals as background fog. My first listen garnered a double take because it starts so fast and aggressive and when it does slow down I don't know what to think. I like Devin's voice when he sings and when he screams the hair on my neck stands on end. The guitar is different and it sounds like an interjection more than an essential part of the song. The drums are a full-on sprint from start to finish, and I think there's a bass guitar in there somewhere ... I'm sure there is.


The lyrics are dark and depressing and full of hate and fury -- just the type of angst you would expect from Devin's un-medicated mind. This disc also has some enhanced features such as a video from the DVD titled "For Those Aboot To Rock" along with a photo gallery and weblinks.


Strapping Young Lad: Devin Townsend keyboards, producer, vocals, guitar, sampling, engineering; Glen Hoglan drums; Byron Stroud bass guitar, associate producer; Jed Simon guitar.


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"City" (Century Media; 1997)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"City" is not a collection of Devin Townsend's happiest moments. It seems as though every frustration that Townsend has had is collectively rolled up into this aggressive effort that is reminiscent of Fear Factory's early material. "City" isn't all purely industrialized angst without a target in sight. The relatively stylish mechanization of Townsend's deep rooted fears and suspicion is flush with unique sounds and elements which seem superfluous upon first listen, but in reality gives the material a cinematic scope that very few artists dream of let alone accomplish.

Townsend's vocals are screamed and shouted at top volume nearly all the way through the CD; however, is some of the more desperate moments, Townsend sounds like an anguished David Gilmour circa "A Momentary Lapse Of Reason."

"City"  is yet another chapter in the creative and prolific career of Devin Townsend. If you haven't checked out Devin Townsend's work yet, you could do worse than to start with "City."

"City" was produced by Devin Townsend.

Strapping Young Lad is Devin Townshend on everything except drums; drums by the insanely intense Gene Hogland.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2009 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:46:19 -0400.