It’s definitely easy to overlook an album or two in an artist’s discography, but it’s especially easy when you’re talking about Devin Townsend, one of the most prolific and creative figures in modern metal. In less than three decades he’s amassed well over twenty full-length albums and a host of additional releases with more band names than we need to rattle off at this point. And look, there’s simply no denying that fans the world over often hail Dev’s two 1997 releases, Ocean Machine and Strapping Young Lad’s City as two of his defining works. We’re here today to discuss why 1998’s Infinity should definitely be regarded as yet another groundbreaking moment in Dev’s career and one of the finest solo releases he’s ever put out.
In a lot of ways, Infinity actually feels like a synthesis of Ocean Machine and City; a twisted merger of pop-infused metal, manic vocal performances, dark humor galore and loads of psychedelia. It’s been documented in multiple interviews over the years that Infinity was written and recorded during Devin’s infatuation with psychedelic drugs, which undoubtedly manifests itself on songs like “War” and “Life Is All Dynamics.” Ideas are often repeated heavily and layered to absolute hell, creating a completely impenetrable wall of distortion and topped off with lush synthesizer work. The now-dated production, though admittedly too hissy in parts, undoubtedly achieved its initial goal of creating a freight-train approach to the album’s orchestration. Aside from a few freakouts in tracks like “Ants,” there also aren’t a lot of wanky prog-metal passages to be found. Maybe that’s because of the heavy emphasis on choruses and vocal hooks, or maybe it’s because it’s hard to shred when you’re tripping balls. Who knows?
All jokes aside, Infinity is a borderline masterpiece that packs in some of the finest material in the man’s monolithic catalog. “Truth” may still stand the test of time as being the man’s finest opener to any album to date with its equally-epic-and-catchy opening riff that sets off the entire tone of the album in just a matter of seconds. “Christeen” and “Bad Devil” both boast two of the most bombastic and memorable choruses of the man’s career and really help provide the listener with an easy way to settle in before getting bombarded with heaps of absolutely insane songwriting. The middle-third of Infinity gets downright schizophrenic and feels just as all over the place as the guy at the party who ate too many mushrooms, but it’s done with such a level of confidence and swagger it ends up justifying itself before closing things off with “Unity” and “Noisy Pink Bubbles.” Just when you think Infinity’s gotten too far ahead of itself, the album settles back and incorporates a heavy new-age influence with the former and quirky prog rock in the latter. It really provides the listener with even more contrast and reasons to stick around for the duration of the record.
If you’ve slept on this one for whatever reason (maybe it’s naked Devy on the cover or something) or simply haven’t put on this album in a while, take some time out of your day today and revisit this monster. It’s got just as many surprises as Deconstruction, just as many hooks as Ocean Machine, and it’s just as lush as Terria.