Devin Townsend is one of few who can, by himself, truly create sonically perfect heavy metal albums that are unlike anything else. Not to take away from his early collaborations, but his genius seems to be so much more when he does it on his own. After briefly leaving behind the music industry, Townsend announced his four-part The Devin Townsend Project. 2009 saw both Ki and Addicted appear with a fresh update on Townsend’s signature style. Now, two years later, Townsend has completed his series with Deconstruction and Ghost.
There is no doubt that Townsend’s signature style rises to the surface quickly and efficiently. “Praised the Lowered” places us into the album and gives us just a taste of what is to come. “Stand” contains some of the common Townsend rhythms we have come to love, but the chunk of the album offers songs such as “Planet of the Apes,” which is certainly interesting as it explores the fanatical religious nature in some that contrasts with the evolutionary nature in all. Songs like “Sumeria” is the pinnacle of solo Devin Townsend material. Heavy, relentless, whimsical, and gorgeous.
As the album continues, the themes become more solid and diverse. “The Mighty Masturbator” and “Deconstruction” feel as if they contain the most important aspects of the album. Where the concept finally arrives, and where Townsend fucks it silly. The title track, “Deconstruction” expresses Townsend’s once destructive nature along with the character’s need to deconstruct reality and study its history and source to arrive on the other side with a solid interpretation and understanding. This harkens back to the term Deconstruction which is used to study literature and art. Townsend has touched upon dozens of concepts in Deconstruction, from our supposed natural selves to the beginnings and late attempts at experiencing civilization. Deconstruction is never truly able to find a meaning. Deconstruction exemplifies this by not presenting meaning of reality, but exploring the structures that make up our reality. The attempt overtime becomes pointless and convoluted. However, with Deconstruction, Townsend has essentially found a transcended absurdism found in much of his work and has reached a pinnacle, or even nirvana within himself and his art. Even if that in itself is pointless.
Throughout the album, the lyrics point the ideas of being “ready” and “changing the world”. At first these themes appear to be serious. Of course, that does not continue. Not ever on a Townsend album. As the album’s concept unfolds, the lyrics go from serious to zany to absurd. Since the album is about the journey to reality, seriousness and absurdism are complements of each other. When you consider the extremely heavy nature of the music and take into the account the themes of reality, overcoming fears, materialism as masturbation, and absurdism; we are left with an album that is rarely released in this day in age, and far less appreciated and understood.
Some musicians attempt such lyrical and musical themes with mediocre or laughable results. While certain aspects of Deconstruction are certainly laughable, that is actually the point. Townsend has given us one of the most impressive and important releases of 2011, and it punches you in the face. Its philosophical nature is the product of a man who has exemplified the character in the album’s story; he has seen and experienced the worst, turned himself around, and laughed in the face of the Devil.
Townsend was not alone in the production of the album. Deconstruction includes cameos from musicians of some of the heaviest bands in the metal. These include Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork, Scarve), Paul Kuhr (November’s Doom), Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth), Ihsahn (ex-Emperor), Tommy Giles Rogers (Between the Buried and Me), Joe Duplantier (Gojira), Paul Masvidal (ex-Death, Cynic, Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan), Floor Jansen (ex-After Forever, ReVamp), Oderus Urungus (Gwar), Fredrik Thordendal (Meshuggah). This collection of musicians has assisted in Townsend creating one of his heaviest albums—and a good one at that.
Deconstruction is a valuable release that continues the experiments that Townsend began with in Ki and Addicted and even transcends them. Furthermore, it is an album that will certainly take time to truly wrap your head around. Townsend has, whether he is aware of it or not, has grasped the idea of post-modernism, how the globalization and simulacra has made nearly everything pointless and meaningless. The concepts, themes, and philosophy found in this album are a culmination of a lifetime of experiences, possibly a mid-life crisis—and Devin Townsend has come out alive and a better musician, artist, and man than when he began his journey.