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The stupendously talented musician and songwriter that is Devin Townsend has such a profoundly loyal fanbase that the man could release an album of sampled farts and sonics derived from other bodily emissions and I'm certain Devy devotees would still lap it up en masse. In a career that has seen him release some of the most innovative, genuinely progressive, epic, catchy and diverse music known to man, here we have his latest effort in the form of 'Epicloud', a follow-up to the DTP tetralogy of albums released over a two year period from 2009 to 2011. I hasten to add that this is not a fart-based suite of songs (although wouldn't that be most marvellous?!); rather, as alluded to by its title, this is some of the most epic-sounding music the man has written and recorded to date that, in a way, offers a diachronic cross-section of his career to date. A musically historical hybrid of his heterogeneous canon of work but still pertaining to his ever-progressive, forward-thinking dynamic with which he's become associated (and widely respected for).

In the context of the DTP, for that is the banner under which this has been made and released, how does it fare against the collective's tetralogy? Well, as a whole, it's not the cacophonically batty beast that 'Deconstruction' was, nor is it the overtly folky ambience of 'Ghost'. Likewise, it's not the mellower rock/metal aesthetic of 'Ki' and, in places, eschews the catchy accessibility and immediacy of 'Addicted'. Having said all that, in one sense, it's an amalgam of all four...and then some. Those who've followed the man's career over the years will be able to detect traces of his sonic past in certain passages of particular songs - stylistically speaking that is; I'm not for one instant suggesting that Devy has plagiarised his previous output as the songwriting and music on 'Epicloud' is as innovative and original as it's ever been. And a man renowned for his wacky sense of humour and charismatic personality, the songs on this release ooze such.

Devin Townsend's music has often been about layers too which is one of the qualities that give his songs so much depth, and 'Epicloud' is rich with sonically layered heterogeneity, even with moments of 'Infinity'-era contraposition of seemingly opposing elements that, on paper, shouldn't work but do. And with a perfectly balanced mix where everything is at one, it all sounds so massively resonant over the more intense, heavier and rockier passages, and beauteously lush during the album's ambient moments. Bookended with a gospel choir, 'Epicloud' throws up many surprises throughout with music that thrills, chills and astonishes. He even sneaks in a re-recorded version of 'Physicist' track 'Kingdom', proving himself worthy of the progressive label as it's certainly a progression and improvement from the original (not a ploy alien to Devy as a re-worked version of 'Ziltoid' number 'Hyperdrive' materialised on 'Addicted', of course). Oh, and there are a liberal sprinkling of Anneke Van Giersbergen's succulently smooth vocals which are as captivatingly exquisite as ever.

Overall, once again, the musical genius and might of Devin Townsend triumphs with this latest offering. Whereas others fail with attempts at sonic heterogeneity, this multi-talented Canadian makes diversity sound effortlessly and coolly cohesive. I've no option but to offer up full marks to the man. Devy, you more than deserve it sir. Not just one of the albums of the year but one of the best since the turn of the century. Phenomenal.
Inside Out
Review by Mark Holmes
24th Sept 2012
1) Effervescent!
2) True North
3) Lucky Animals
4) Liberation
5) Where We Belong
6) Save Our Now
7) Kingdom; 8) Divine
9) Grace; 10) More!
11) Lessons
12) Hold On
13) Angel
"Not just one of the albums of the year but one of the best since the turn of the century. Phenomenal."