Friday, 1 November 2013

Devin Townsend Project - The Retinal Circus (Live Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 30/9/2013
Label : InsideOut Music

The Retinal Circus, album track listing :

1. Effervescent!/True North
2. Lucky Animals
3. Planet of the Apes
4. Truth
5. War
6. Soul Driven
7. Planet Smasher
8. Baby Song
9. Vampolka
10. Vampira
11. Addicted!
12. Colour Your World
13. The Greys
14. Hyperdrive
15. Ih-Ah!
16. Where We Belong
17. Detox
18. Bend it Like Bender!
19. Life
20. Kingdom
21. Juular
22. Love?
23. Colonial Boy
24. Grace
25. Little Pig

The Band :

Devin Townsend  | (guitars , vocals, keyboards)
Anneke Van Giersbergen | (vocals)
Ryan Van Poederooyen  | (drums)
Mike Young | (bass)
Dave Young | (Guitars)

Review :

Devin Townsend.  No longer really a name, more a verb.  A doing word.  As in: “I’m gonna Devin Townsend your stereo!” to which you’ll rightly respond “Fuck yeah!” 

Few metal acts can really match up to what Devin Townsend and his maniacal Project are bringing to the world.  For starters, he’s a prolific writer: from his work with Strapping Young Lad to his eponymous Project, he’s got over 20 studio and live albums under his belt.  Plus he’s weird as all hell: this is the mind that dreamt up Ziltoid the Omniscient, after all.  And as for his live shows?  They’re a full-on spectacle of rock ‘n’ roll excess and vibrantly crazy spectacle. 

And here’s where ‘Retinal Circus’ comes in.  This is the latest release from the massive-headed one, and it’s a live show of truly staggering proportions.  Want spectacle?  You got it: in the many forms of dancing girls, fire, choirs, furries, pantomime, Ziltoid himself making an appearance and so much more besides.  Want music?  Buddy, you are in for a treat. 

Live albums have such a different energy to studio albums: there’s that vibe from the crowd that really gives the groove an extra tint, an extra colour that turns regular songs into blistering anthems.  As soon as you hear Steve Vai introducing the beautiful craziness, you know that something truly off the wall is going to happen.  Then ‘Effervescent/True North’ kicks in like a sonic space mule and you’re thrown bodily into the shifting, twisting miasma of metal exploration. 

What follows is very nearly two hours of metal pomp and ceremony, eclipsing the bravado of Queen, dominating the weirdness of Frank Zappa and, dare I say it, even making Steve Vai’s own shows pale in comparison.  Devin Townsend is certainly a man with a rich mental mind of creativity.  It seems like every time he goes digging in it, he hits upon a rich vein of unique imagery and musical ideas.  And boy, does he know how to turn those raw materials into polished gems.  ‘Lucky Animals’ (my personal favourite track from ‘Epicloud’) is made to sound like a rock opera made to make God’s head bob in time with the music. 

In fact, just about any of the 25 tracks on this double-disc set can be enough to turn the most casual of Townsend listeners into avid fans.  Like weird?  Ziltoid’s own song ‘Planet Smasher’ is a sci-fi B-Movie epic from the ‘50s, thrown half a century into the future and given a shot of the blackest coffee known to existence.  Like down-and-dirty rock excess?  ‘Bend it Like Bender!’ is the sleazy, sneering stud for you.  Like music?  Love Devin Townsend. 

From its delightful opening to its muted, emotion-laden closing ditty ‘Little Pig’ (a homage to Pink Floyd if ever I heard one), ‘Retinal Circus’ is a smorgasbord for the metal connoisseur.  No matter your taste, no matter your musical background, you will love this live album.  There’s just so much to choose from, and then, when you’re done, so much more to find out when you begin to delve into Townsend’s extensive back-catalogue.  Townsend your stereo and prepare all your senses for a sci-fi metal odyssey unlike any other: engage! 

Words by : Chris Markwell

You can buy it here

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