Contain Us – The Devin Townsend Project

Contain Us

Devin Townsend

2011

InsideOut Music / HevyDevy

Devin Townsend.  The man behind industrial/progressive metal band Strapping Young Lad.  Townsend has had quite a diverse and insane solo career.  From the ambient sounds of Devlab, to the swing and jazz grooves of Infinity, to the alien/comedy/sci-fi/concept album Ziltoid the Omniscient, Devin is not one to do the same thing over and over again.  The Contain Us box set collects Devin’s last four solo albums which make up one musical movement known as The Devin Townsend Project.  Four albums that all sound drastically different.  Ki, Addicted!, Deconstruction, and Ghost.  The set also has two bonus discs of B-sides and demos, as well as two DVD;  500 copies also came with a limited 10-inch vinyl with two songs.  I’ll try to discuss everything included in this wonderful set.  I’ll say that right off the bat, it is a must have for Devin Townsend fans — no questions asked, you should own this.  So let’s start with the main albums, shall we?

Ki

Ki — the first album to be released in the series kicks off with the soft sounds of Devin’s guitar.  A peaceful introduction.  The start of an insane four album ride.  The first song on the album is “Coast,” a mid-paced song with a solid bass groove that pulls the listener along.  Devin’s vocals start nice and soft.  As a matter of fact this whole album is on the soft side, half progressive-rock and half experimental.  Every time a song on the album begins to get into heavier territory it quickly stops itself, as if it were thinking really hard about not having its way with that sixteen-year-old.  Acoustics and some electronics are sprinkled throughout the music as well as the occasional heavy riff, but it never crosses over into the prog-metal territory that Devin is most well-known for.  “Trainfire” is a personal favorite.  Opening with a shuffle beat reminiscent of Devin’s own Bad Devil and some rockabilly-like vocals just goes to show how diverse the sexy bald man can be.  Ki is a top quality progressive-rock record with some nice experimentation thrown in the mix.  Buy this, now.

Addicted

Addicted — part two of the box set.  Now Devin begins to let his heavier roots show.  Starting off with the crisp heavy riff of the title track and a pounding drum beat, the album explodes with some delicious heavy metal.  Anneke van Giersbergen (of The Gathering fame) lends her beautiful voice to many tracks on the album as she takes the lead on a few and provides back-up vocals on many more.  Her ahhhs over the heaviness of the first track create an awesome contrast to the aforementioned metal explosion.  Her lead vocals in “Supercrush!” and “Hyperdrive!” (a remake of a song from Devin’s Ziltoid album) are the standouts.  In the former song, we are treated to a back and forth of her on the verses and Devin on the choruses, the voices each singing melodies that get stuck in your head.  This follows in “Hyperdrive!” as well.  Anneke almost creates a mood of being lost in a strange environment with her sound  on the former track.  This new version of the song surpasses the original because she adds a new haunting quality to the vocal melody.  Addicted is easily the catchiest of the four albums in this set.  Every song has a verse or a chorus that you will be humming to yourself for days after listening.  I dare you to listen to “Bend It Like Bender!” and not tap your foot along.  Buy this, now.

Deconstruction

Deconstruction — if I had to sum this up in as little words as possible, I could in two:  Fucking insane.  This is the album for the people who are fans of Devin’s progressive metal.  And I use that term loosely for the album, this one is all over the place.  Deconstruction tricks you with its opening track, as “Praise the Lowered” is a quiet start, picking up only in the final third of the song.  Deconstruction contains some choral and orchestral arrangements and a whole slew of guest vocalists.  Ihsahn (Emperor), Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth), Tommy Giles Rogers (Between The Buried and Me), and Oderus Urungus (Gwar), as well as many others, all make appearances.  Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan lends a hand on the album’s epic 16-minute “The Mighty Masterbator,” which is probably the highlight of the album.  The song contains, metal, electronic, orchestral work, circus music and more.  Buy this, now.

Ghost

Ghost — the last part in the eclectic saga.  What will we get next?  More soft progressive-rock?  Catchy metal?  Batshit insanity?  How about none of the above.  Instead, we’re treated to some new-age complete with flute and woodwinds.  This is easily the softest thing that Devin has ever released.  It is a refreshing change of pace and a nice cool down after the mind fuck that was Deconstruction.  Just give a listen to “Heart Baby.”  Pretty, right?  That is Kat Epple of Emerald Web gracing our ears with those lovely woodwinds.  This album really is a beautiful piece of music.  Calming and quiet, it is something to relax to, a well-deserved cigarette after a night of the aforestated, passionate statutory rape.  It really is the perfect conclusion to the four-part set.  The album does contain come of those progressive rock elements that were evident on Ki but to a much lesser degree, and really, only in the guitar work.  Besides that, this is straight-up yoga music.  And call me a fan boy but Devin pulls it off exceptionally well.  (To be fair though, I would buy an album of him hitting rocks with a hammer.)  Buy this, now.

The extras.

“Look at this fucking pick!”

Bonus CD 1 (Stuff That Was Almost Stuff)

Basically this contains B-sides from the four albums.  Since they are from all the different albums, these songs are all over the place.  We get short prog-rock songs as well as epic, heavy insanity.  Overall, the quality is fairly good — nothing really sounds like it wasn’t good enough to be on an album, though maybe each track would have interrupted the flow had they been plopped into their respective musical landscapes.  The oddball though is the near 20 minute “Traestorz.”  It is all ambient and electronics along the lines of Devin’s two electronic pieces (The Hummer and Devlab).  The disc is a fun listen after listening to the intended journey.

Bonus Cd 2 (Stuff  That Was Stuff Before It Was Finished Stuff)

Not much to say about this one here.  It contains demo versions of fifteen tracks from the four albums, dirtier and grimier sounding versions of the songs we came to know and love.  You get to hear Devin do some of the vocals that would later be taken on by guests.  Fun to check out if you’re into hearing the evolution of a song.

Devin Townsend about to kiss a fan.

DVD 1 (Stuff For Your Eyes)

Live footage and promo videos!  The promo videos are okay, just random images and live footage thrown over the songs (“Coast,” “Bend It Like Bender!,” “Supercrush!,” and “Juuler”), although the “Bend It Like Bender!” has some nice animation to go along with the song.  We get Devin’s performance at the Tuska Open Air Metal Festival from 2010.  The set is fairly short and contains tracks from Ki and Addicted, and there is another concert, short as well, that contains stuff from Ghost featuring Kat on the flute.  An entertaining DVD with some fun little thangs to suck on.

DVD 2 (Stuff For The Holes In Your Head (Except Your Mouth))

This is a DVD-ROM.  It is filled with random, random stuff.  Live footage, clips of Devin in the studio, rehearsals, and tons more.  The real standout out though is the album commentary.  There is about an hour-long commentary track for each album.  A hell of an entertaining listen for the obsessive.

10″ Vinyl

Limited to 500 copies of the sets, this has two songs, “Dinosaurs” and “A Ziltoidian Rapture.”  The first is a fun swing/cabaret big band song, complete with horns.  Right of the bat, you’re sucked into the groove of the swinging drum beat, followed shortly by the crisp, distorted guitar.  The song builds upon itself.  Written during the Addicted sessions, Devin has mentioned that this may end up on the Ziltoid sequel.  The next song, a “Ziltoidian Rapture,” is composed of orchestral sections from Ziltoid with a new stream-of-consciousness dialogue from the title character.  This one is funny and especially exciting for fans of Ziltoid (which you all should be).

The set is filled with pages oo pictures from the studio — live and promotional.  We get full pages written by Devin explaining the process and intentions behind each album.  This is chock-loaded with shit for fans and an absolute must-have.  Why haven’t you purchased this yet, you insignificant rodent?

This is the face of a man who doesn’t need to look at his fingers while playing guitar. This is a face you will never make.

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2 Responses to “Contain Us – The Devin Townsend Project”

  1. Why didn’t you just title this one “Devin Townsend — A Precursor to Fellatio”?

  2. Nicholas Says:

    Pfffffff, i don’t want to blow Devin Townsend, I would neeever do that.

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