Friday, July 07, 2006


If I were in charge of giving out some kind of music award it would be likely that Devin Townsend would be nominated for every category. Best vocals, best production, best guitar work, most schizophrenic, most likely to explode, etc. Whether you’re dealing with his work in Strapping Young Lad or his solo work you know you can expect something unique and worth listening to.

It’s tough to know where to start when tackling a subject that has as much depth and I will likely not even come close to giving the earned credit that Townsend deserves in this post but whatever.

So, not to get into any kind of major bio but here’s the important details:
- From Vancouver
- Recruited to do vocals for Steve Vai on his ’93 record Sex & Religion (he was 21).
- Released the first SYL record Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing in ‘95
- Did a bunch of other crazy things
- Released the SYL record City in ’97 (City is an unreal album, crazy crazy music).
- Did a bunch of more stuff (made more solo and Strapping records, produce other bands ((darkest hour)), be a general loon).

That pretty much doesn’t cover it at all but you get the idea. If you aren’t familiar with his work I can assure you that few can scream, wail, or shriek like him and as he’s chosen to prove more recently, shred the hell out of a guitar (being in a band with Steve Vai has it’s advantages).

Now on top of all this he’s one of those guys. Of course I know that those can mean all sorts of things. Those guys can refer to guys with spiked hair, shoe polish tans and 2 Fast 2 Furious cars, but can also mean that guy you went to high-school with that you were afraid of because deep down you knew he was infinitely smarter than you and simply had to indicate this to you with a psychotic glint in his eye. Usually these guys move on to do some kind of work in computers, which applies in this case because SYL’s music can sound like several computers self destructing. Let's also not forget his ability to manipulate noise as a producer.

Anyway, Strapping has a new record coming out next week and you can check out one of the songs if you’re interested. If you aren’t interested just listen to it anyway because if you’ve never heard them before you’ve probably never heard such structured insanity in your life.

U SUCK – Well….yeah, say hi to Gene Hoglan. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Hoglan he’s probably one of the scariest drummers ever, not to mention, uhh, the biggest. You should see him play, just one big mess of flying hair and arms. If you’ve heard the live Pantera recording where Phil refers to the drummer in Death he’s talking about Gene (he also played in Dark Angel). Anyway you’ll hear his craziness on this song. Of course the vocals are completely over-the-top and the lyrics are typical Townsend ridiculousness but as usual if you listen closely you’ll hear layer upon layer reveal itself, this guy does vocals like no other and has unreal melodic and harmonic abilities. You’ll also hear his Vai filtered approach to the guitar, which to be honest makes me jealous.

Townsend actually seems like a very down to earth and articulate guy and despite the fact that even he admits SYL is angry music he has balanced this anger with some really elegant solo material. The Accelerated Evolution record is proof of this and I highly recommend it.

Sidenote: Skullet’s are instant scary/crazy.

More Strapping songs, definitely listen to Detox and Shitstorm. Few times has a song title been so fitting as it is with Shitstorm. The scream at 2:16 alone is enough evidence to prove the vocal capabilities of Townsend.
Solo HevyDev here.


Metal Mark said...

Actually Gene Hoglan played in Dark Angel not Death Angel. He was also a roadie with Slayer before that and he did a short stint with Testament in the late 90's.

Chaosbeard said...

Woops, you're right. I thought it looked weird when I re-read it. I'll have to correct that.