Devin Townsend Project // Deconstruction
Label: InsideOut
Release Dates: EU: 2011.06.20 | US: 06.21.2011
By: Natalie Zed

Devin Townsend - DeconstructionThinking of Devin Townsend as a musician no longer works. While his command of his instruments is awe-inspiring, to confine him only as such would be a disservice. With Deconstruction, Devin Townsend has ascended to the level of mad scientist; he’ll be aiming an interplanetary weapon at us next. Released simultaneously with Ghost, Deconstruction is part of the four-album the Devin Townsend Project cycle, which also includes the vibrant, poppy Addicted and the much softer (but still complex) Ki. Like much of Townsend’s oeuvre, Deconstruction is a concept album; it loosely follows the journey of a man who descends into hell. There, he meets the devil, who offers him a cheeseburger that contains all the secrets of the universe. Like any devilish generosity, it’s a cruel joke: the man is a vegetarian and cannot partake of the cheeseburger epiphany. Does that sound ridiculous? Of course it is, but this is a project from the man who brought us a rock opera about a megalomaniacal alien willing to wage interstellar war over a cup of coffee. In that context, it feels perfectly reasonable.

What is this monstrosity like musically? It doesn’t get more complicated than this. The album features a full vocal choir, two drummers (Ryan Van Poederooyan and Dirk Verbeuren), and a veritable pantheon of guest vocal talent. Paul Kuhr’s work on “Praise the Lowered” is particularly excellent, as are Joe Duplantier’s vocals on “Sumeria.” There are ten guest vocalists in total and it’s a genuine triumph of mixing that none of them are lost. Each voice stands out, is strong and distinct, adding something to each track. This album is immense, complex and bursting at the seams with layers and guest talent. But the greatest strength of Deconstruction is not its complexity, but its clarity. All of the elements feel necessary. No performance or effect could be cut without losing something and that strikes me as amazing. Deconstruction isn’t going to be for everybody, multiple careful listens in, I am still finding things, still analyzing the album and picking it apart. It’s a demented puzzle box, sometimes as violent and frenetic as Strapping Young Lad, sometimes as tender and plaintive as Ki. I keep returning to “The Planet of the Apes,” something in that song’s particularly manic riffs and drumming keeps drawing me back. This is an album that will reward long-term relationships. I would love to review Deconstruction again in six months.

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  • I need number based scores or I can’t sleep at night!!

    • Tough shit. She doesn’t do ’em, apparently, and I’m not going to force her ’cause she’s just a guest blogger.

  • Andrew Austin

    Sounds kinda difficult to get into – would you recommend this to a first-time listener of his? I fear I would pick it up and hear nothing but a mess before I had to take some serious time out to deconstruct (groan) it.

    • Yeah, if you aren’t familliar with Devy, this probably wouldn’t be a good place to start. Maybe Alien, or perhaps Ziltoid. Ziltoid’s definitely the catchier of the two.

      • Not sure I agree. The album starts out pretty accessible and gradually eases into more complex territory. I think the hardest part to digest – for the newcomers – could be the random profanities and farts.

      • Ziltoid’s a terrible place to start, it’s too different. His early material is much easier to start with, along with SYL.

        • It took me a very long time to really penetrate Devin’s non-SYL back catalogue (we’re talking 2-3 years here) but Ziltoid acted as a surprisingly good gateway album and the fact that it has an interesting hook and some very catchy tunes makes it a good place to start, all things considered.

          If somebody hasn’t listened to Dev at all then City is the place to go first. If you don’t like it, you can rule out all of his other SYL material right off the bat (although if you don’t like it, you’ve got much bigger problems). For his solo stuff, Terria is most representative of his overall style and has Earth Day and Deep Peace which are just phenomenal. After that I’d take a look at Accelerated Evolution and Ziltoid and then it’s a matter of picking and choosing between Synchestra, Infinity and Ocean Machine. 

          I’d also strongly recommend Addicted because it’s just such a fun record but it’s not very representative of anything else he has done. Although I love all the other Project albums, I’d probably avoid them for now and investigate the other stuff. I’m still digesting Deconstruction, it’s a very challenging record, and really not a good place for a first time DevHead to start. 

          Physicist can be mostly avoided until you’re done with the rest; it’s his weakest by some way.

    • Terje Rustestuen

      I would go for the selftitled album regarding Strapping Young Lad, and maybe Accelerated Evolution or Terria for his solo works.

    • I think Ocean Machine is a great start, I heard Devin’s music before I listened to that album, but it’s the one that really dragged me into his demented and fantastical world, it’s a good midway between Strapping and his more relaxed solo stuff… Deconstruction though just takes it to a whole other level… God.

    • I’d go with Accelerated Evolution or Ocean Machine as solid Devy starting points. Strapping’s SYL album was my starting point into my whole Devin Townsend obsession. Alien is also a good starter for the SYL material.

      Basically start with everything and continue on from there.

  • Zadion

    It doesn’t bother me at all, but why did someone else do the review?

  • I love this album, Juular is definately my favorite song (Conjures images of Oompa Loompas dancing :P) Deconstruction goes perfectly with Ghost also, its something relaxingly simple and light after Deconstruction’s mindblowing complexity

  • This album is a mindfuck. I still am not sure I can quite get my head around it.

    • Yeah, too much going on and now I’m having epileptic seizures. Thanks Dev.

  • Anonymous

    Why didn’t you give a rating for this record? Is it because Devin Townsend’s greatness is so beyond comprehension that the only viable option one could have on it is to decide which way to fall towards upon beholding it. ?.

    • It was reviewed by a guest writer and she doesn’t do number ratings.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, I see. Thank you for the fast reply. Partly sorry for my cynical comment now, though I must stick to an opinion that Deconstruction is brutally overrated, and people simply seem to get fooled by it.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, I see. Thank you for the fast reply. Partly sorry for my cynical comment now, though I must stick to an opinion that Deconstruction is brutally overrated, and people simply seem to get fooled by it.