This week in the Week in Reviews, we look at four brand new records from three different artists, two of whom are not named Devin Townsend.. TWIR after the break.
Eden Kupermintz gets the week started with a 4/5 review of the sophomore effort from “semi-supergroup Soen.” Eden says the band’s first record, “…Cognitive was a simple yet evocative album. Echoing the oft-referenced Tool, it sacrificed elaborate technicality for emotional impact. It can be said that Tellurian is a correction towards the mean in that respect: it does not sacrifice the emotional weight completely but does tone it back so that technicality and complexity can prosper.”
Eden says while many bands fall into a slump with their second albums, Soen has avoided that fate.
“All these rises and lows, the increased technicality and the addition of new influences allow this release to break free from the conceptual shackles of their debut and work towards a new path for them: one that is much more memorable and enduring.”
Our primary focus of the week is a look at the double-album release from Devin Townsend and his follow-up to 2007’s Ziltoid the Omniscient so we tasked two of our reviewers, one for each part of the double album. Ryan Castrati gets us kicked off with Sky Blue.
“Devin has heavily flirted with electronic elements when making previous albums, but instead of flirting with them this time around, he makes those elements the one constant that runs through the entirety of Sky Blue,” Ryan writes “There’s even a track in the latter half of the album called ‘Silent Militia’ that gets downright industrial as well as being a bit reminiscent of Addicted. Other than that track, the electronics don’t often steal the spotlight, but instead accentuate the parts that have already been established in the songs.”
Highly ambitious records like Sky Blue tend to either fall flat on their faces or soar beyond expectations.
“When a well established musician tries to add new sounds or pull from previous records, it can sometimes end in disaster. It can seem like a stab at reclaiming former glory or trying to appeal to an untapped market. Sky Blue does neither of those things…Devin didn’t just give us a disc of new material, he gave us some of his best material yet.”
5/5 for Sky Blue.
Anthony DiGiacomo also gives 5/5 to the other half of this double album, the more direct follow up to Ziltoid. Check his review for a complete recap of the story line from the original to Dark Matters.
Anthony says it would be a mistake to take it all too seriously.
“Devin Townsend has been well known to have a sense of humor within his music. Between the first Ziltoid album, Deconstruction, and his old Ass-sordid demos, this should come as no surprise to long time fans. Z2: Dark Matters is the next chapter in Ziltoid’s story and it couldn’t be a more grandiose sequel. The flow and storytelling are far beyond the first album, while the layering of instrumentation is only on par with that of Deconstruction. Dark Matters also happens to be the only metal album ever presented to the listener as an old fashion radio play; ala War of the Worlds.”
Anthony also notes that this is not a collection of individual songs but a complete piece of art.
“The album needs to be listened to in order in a single sitting, preferably on a system that allows one to hear the most detail given the extremely dense compositions, and many spoken word story elements. A special edition of the album is also being released with the dialog cut out, which may be the version many fans prefer in the end. Z2: Dark Matters is a monumental release by one of metal’s most affluently creative musicians, truly encapsulating everything he has done up to this point in his career.”
After all of the 5/5’s, Eden brings us back to Earth with a 3.5/5 look at the third record from Earthship.
Eden finds the most to praise from Earthship’s rhythm section consisting of “ex-The Ocean’s Jan Oberg coupled with his wife, Sabine Oberg, on the bass.”
If you don’t know Oberg, Eden says you should.
“From his works on the earlier The Ocean albums, to the first two records of this very band, he displays the unique ability to be both a virtuoso and an incredibly steady player: he can kiss the cymbals with breakneck speed and maintain a solid, rocking beat with equal skill. Coupled that with Sabine’s work on the bass for this record and you get the first monstrous part of this album: whether slow-moving, titanic waves of sound or roiling, swampy sludge gallops, this duo keeps the tracks alive and moving.”
The problem, Eden finds, is that the start of the album comes off almost lethargic.
“The weaker, opening tracks become more engaging with further listenings and those result from the massive allure the ending tracks represent. Withered is a worthy addition to the growing trend of sludgy rock n’ roll coupled with heavier, metallic influences. At the end of the day, it’s a simple, ruthless album that relies on two elements: bizarrely addictive drums and bass and an almost perfect amalgamation of styles we’ve grown to love.”
Stick with us next week for more new metal records that you may also grow to love.