After years of exploration with a handful of records that aimed at different concepts and genres, Devin Townsend is still expanding to new sounds and perfecting elements that proved to be highlights of his past works. He is a musician that can explore many corners of the music realm and make any style his own, while still delivering interesting material full of quality and most importantly: honesty.
Every record that Devin puts out is a reflection of his current state of mind, a particular inclination or an emotional event that he is portraying spontaneously through his music.
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That being said, I believe you can only compare 'Epicloud' to other records made by Devin Townsend. The sense of adventure of 'Ziltoid' and the positive attitude of 'Ghost' are some of the things that come to mind at first listen, but the real point of reference for 'Epicloud' would be 'Addicted'.
The return of Anneke Van Giersbergen on vocals is an evidence of the chemistry that she has with Devin's material and the value that her performance adds to the songs. Even if she's not dominating through the record, her voice is powerful, expressive and not only fits perfectly with the catchy pop-oriented metal songs that constitute 'Epicloud', but also enhances the 'larger than life' feel that the album has.
This grand and positive vibe that permeates the record is presented to us in the first track 'Effervescent!' which features a Gospel chorus, an element completely new in Devin's ever growing sonic universe. 'Effervescent!' captures the listener's attention right away and provides the record with an appropriate introduction and a concept album quality.
first 'full length' track 'True North' comes next, which shouldn't be taken as a representative song, since the second half delves into a bit of the angst driven weirdness that stands out among the happily vast atmosphere created by the rest of the songs in 'Epicloud', which have traditional 'verse/chorus/verse' structures with catchy vocal lines and memorable melodies.
So, is 'Epicloud' epic?
It's huge! Even with the simple riffs and common structures the songs gather a group of sonic elements that build a large and solid atmosphere that aims to go beyond the skies. Trademark 'Devin' aspects like multiple guitar layering and powerful operatic vocals contribute to this as well. 'Epicloud' has lots of effects and overdubs, but maintains the organic and emotional feel, which is very important.
So, is 'Epicloud' loud as well?
Loud enough.Certain moments like the song 'Where We Belong' feature mellower sections that give more variety and balance, but in general terms the record has a very strong presence and an active attitude that demands your attention.
Regarding all types of art, I generally dislike rerecordings, remakes, remixes, etc. I haven't seen the new version of 'Total Recall' but I am pretty sure it lacks all the extravagant/over the top/bloody/campy craziness that made the original so great, 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is not the same without that grainy and dirty 70s look, and the Megadethremasters? I take the original versions any day.
Unless there is an added value I don't think revisiting previous works is a good idea. Devin's new version of 'Far Beyond Metal', featured on Strapping Young Lad's 'The New Black' was OK and the original song wasn't recorded at the studio anyway, but I was a little skeptical about the new version of the song 'Kingdom' featured on 'Epicloud'.
To my surprise, the song fits very well, it shares the energy of the record and the way the song blends with the previous track 'Save Our Now' is very well done and very clever; an exception to the rule, perhaps.
'Save Our Now' has become an addictive song when I listen to 'Epicloud'. I keep going back to it, playing it again and again. But don't get me wrong, the album is a great experience from start to finish. It is cohesive and is one of the most enjoyable records Devin has put out, full of memorable moments and interesting music.
I could go on listing musical elements, vibes and adjectives. Get 'Epicloud', Listen to it and enjoy it. I certainly am.