Epicloud, the Devin Townsend Project
Suggested by Dave Parkinson
The album title “Epicloud”, so Google tells me, was penned as a double entendre. The first meaning is “above the clouds,” or epi-cloud, something inspired by the bands’ many plane journeys while on tour. The second, rather mundanely, is the combination of Epic and Loud.
This album is both Epic and Loud. As for epi-cloud… this album soars.
Epicloud has a strong symphonic metal style that permeates every song, with towering drums driving exultant riffs, and vocals that can seamlessly morph from angry growl to mellifluous charm as the needs of the individual tracks dictate. While stylistically linked, they are anything but samey. From anthemic drive of Lucky Animals, to the brutal double-bass-drum opening of Kingdom, to the melancholic guitar of Divine, there’s a range on offer to suite the most diverse of aural palates.
The sound has a size on this album. Each song is full, swelling and almost bursting in places, as if there’s too much simultaneous music to fit into your head. This comes with the symphonic style, and gives everything an exultant feel. When the main vocals are more low-key, the songs take on a Mansun vibe, albeit a little heavier that you’d expect. There’s also hints of Euro Dance lurking somewhere beneath the surface, and I swear I thought of German power-pop-metallers Helloween on more than one occasion. Absolutely none of these associations were to this album’s detriment, I must add.
Epicloud is topped and tailed with a gospel-style choir, and the feeling of religious ecstasy ripples throughout the album. The second track, True North, had a feel of Rush-style prog about it, with its slightly disconcerting time signature. At this point, I was wary, thinking this might be an album to appreciate rather than enjoy, an album loved by the kind of person who taps along to the beat in arcane paradiddles, trying to catch your eye and gain your appreciation of their efforts with a sage nod. I needn’t have worried. It was great from start to finish.
My favourite track is likely Kingdom, but there’s a slew of great tunes to enjoy. One slight gripe I have is I feel the bass drums are slightly high in the mix – because, y’know, metal – but that’s small beans in the grand scheme.
I’ll give Epicloud a strong 8, and will definitely check out more by this particular Mr T.