Album Review: Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud

//Album Review: Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud

Devin Townsend Project Epicloud cover

Album review – Devin Townsend Project “Epicloud”

by Nicholas Holmes


The last few years have been a journey of discovery for Devin Townsend. The Canadian shed his former Strapping Young Lad skin, gave up drink and drugs, lost the infamous skullet and took to being almost always seen in public in a snappy silver-grey suit. It has also been a prolific period, with four albums issued that each reflected part of his internal process as a newly-sober man approaching his 40th birthday. From the introspective “Ki” and “Ghost” opening and closing the series to poignant and sometimes aggressive moments on “Addicted” and “Deconstruction”, he has been exorcising his demons about life, the universe and everything. The series culminated in an extraordinary four-night stand in London last November when he played each album in its entirety and released a nine-disc box set, “By A Thread”, which is a very limited edition treasure well worth seeking out.


Now here is “Epicloud”, which is an astounding piece of work. It is like a distillation of all the best parts of the previous DTP albums with added awesome. It opens with what sounds like a gospel choir and the lyrics preach New Age/self-help type mantras. To the cynic this may seem cheesy, but the repeated exclamation of “effervescent quality!!!” is merely a taste of what is to come. This leads into the angelic voice of Anneke Van Giersbergen singing “I love you! I need you!” repeatedly before the band come in with Townsend and a wall of sound reminiscent of an Andrew Lloyd Webber production. “True North” crunches with bass-heavy riffs driven by overwhelming melodies. The choral vocals create a truly mesmerising effect.


The stage musical vibe continues into third track “Lucky Animals”. Likely to become a live favourite, it has a swinging, catchy rhythm guaranteed to get dance floors moshing. “Liberation” keeps the faster pace up with insistent rolling drums and an incredibly infectious riff that builds to a huge chorus. It ends with laughter and the sounds of people mucking about, before a mellower mood. “Where We Belong”echoes “Ki” and “Ghost” in its gentle atmosphere that gradually becomes an arm-swaying, lighter-waving stadium rock ballad, and is followed by another fist-pumping nod to 80s rock, “Save Our Now”. It starts slow again with long-time DTP collaborator Anneke duetting as it grows into a stomping ode to the “living in the present moment” lifestyle.


Next a rework of a huge live favourite. “Kingdom” first appeared on the “Physicist” album released in 2000, and by Townsend’s own admission it frothed with anger and frustration. Over a decade on, the song packs a massive sonic punch but sounds more like an apology and a plea for understanding from a male point of view. The lyrics, opening with Devin belting out “I wonder why I come undone!” It goes on, “Ok I know…the point, I missed it.” and “If I could change it, good god I would!” Later on he implores, “baby please, there is no hurry. I’m fine.” seemingly a request for space in a relationship. The heartfelt refrain of “Stay with me!” is followed by what sounds like, “We are the world”, implying an ‘Earth vs us’ bond. Incredibly powerful stuff.


This is the part where the album shows its true colours. “Divine”, a languid ballad with a similar feel to “Ghost”, opens with the lines “Loving you is the best thing and the worst thing in my life. Loving you is entire.” It is unashamedly sentimental, and absolutely beautiful. Arguably it is incredibly hard to write a sincere, non-sick making love song. Devin has done that, even with mentions of gods and halos. He means it, man.


A space age sound effect leads into Anneke taking over on equally heartrending “Grace”. “We know that it’s only human. We know that it’s only love.” she sings to a chiming, lullaby soundtrack. Then, without warning a huge chorus kicks in. Massive guitars and an even bigger vocal chorus, chanting “Grace”. Devy’s wall of sound takes over with chugging guitars and orchestral flourishes. It is yet another breathtaking moment that is both musically heavy and incredibly emotive. “We all fall down if we fear love. Never fear love! Warning!” roars Devy with the chorus.


A distinct pace and mood change sees “More!”, built on rolling drums and infectious riffs, seems to message about chasing material things and greed in modern life. “Jesus isn’t coming and the kids want more! We want more! More, more, more!” cries the vocal ensemble. The monstrous outro is something Testament would be proud of.


Regaining the gentle, acoustic pace is the almost-minute-long interlude of “Lessons”, which seems like a winding down and reflection on the rantings of the previous track. After an audible clearing of the throat, “Hold On” begins slowly with a soothing vocal from Devin. Then it all kicks off again. Anneke leads a chorus that has a similar vibe to Robbie Robb’s “In Time”, from the soundtrack to “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. The theme that everything will be alright remains reassuring, with Townsend instructing gently, “Hear what I’m saying.” Several building repetitions will have crowds swaying their arms and jumping in unity. The end parts states “Inside you’re beautiful. Yes, it’s true my love grows.” This is clearly about someone very, very special.


That point is rammed home is bombastic style, as Anneke sings “My angel!” at the very top of her voice. A gentle rocking and rolling riff carries the vocal chorus of “Save my heart tomorrow.” Another mantra backed by guitar work that has Steve Vai written all over it, someone whom Devin sang with early in his career. It is a truly show-stopping song. The album ends as it began, with the piano accompanied choir singing “Fears be gone!” before the “effervescent quality” line leaves the listener on an upbeat note.


So there it is. An album that truly is epic and designed to be played very loud. The band deserve a mention. Guitarist Dave Young, bass player Mike Young and drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen all make technically precise and superbly executed contributions to the sound of this album.


Those averse to open displays of emotion may chortle at the new-age style sentiments, and at times it feels like an aural therapy session set to rock music. However, this what arguably makes Devin Townsend such a great artist. He is at a point in his life and career where he is unashamedly who he is. This has created an incredibly strong bond with his audience, who love him for his goofball outbursts but know underneath there is a sincere and sensitive soul. He said the album would mix his guilty pleasures, including Enya and 80s stadium rock, with modern stage musicals. It has done all that and more. It really does carry the vibe of Bill and Ted too, and the lyrical message echoes their motto of “Be excellent to each other!”


Live this album would work as a message to that loyal fans, but the overwhelming feeling is that the songs are for someone closer to home. A very public thank you for supporting Townsend through his life. The thin white duke of the North, HIM’s Ville Valo, is credited with inventing “love metal”. A crazy Canuck named Devin Townsend might just have invented “true love metal”.


“Epicloud” Teaser:


“Epicloud” is out via Inside Out Music, more details at:


Devin Townsend Project plays the following dates:


Oct 23 Newcastle University (Retinal Circus warm-up)

Oct 24 Cambridge Junction (Retinal Circus warm-up)

Oct 27 London Roundhouse – The Retinal Circus SOLD OUT

The Retinal Circus will be live-streamed at


Devin Townsend Project will tour the UK with Fear Factory in December.

Full details and lots more at the newly revamped website:

Tickets links to the right of Devin Townsend band page on metalgigs:


More information about Anneke van Giersbergen at:

Devin Townsend Project band

By |2012-10-15T00:00:00+01:00October 15th, 2012|CD Reviews|0 Comments

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