On a typical Friday, we Sleeping Villagers spend some time looking over new releases. Today, however, is not a typical Friday. Instead, we are opting to focus entirely on bands that are donating today's proceeds to bail funds, mutual aids, and other organizations working hard to bring positive change and assistance to black individuals and communities, who, (as you are hopefully all aware,) are disproportionately impacted by police brutality and racist institutional oppression. Bandcamp is not taking a cut of sales today, so all proceeds will go directly to artists--and, in turn, into the hands of organizations that can turn dollars into action.
If you're looking to donate directly to a bail fund working to support jailed protesters, either in your city or in cities heavily impacted by police brutality and wanton arrest during this past week of demonstrations, here is a link.
Every Friday, a wagon arrives at the Sleeping Village’s gates, stuffed to the brim with our sustenance for the following week. Today is the day we must offload all this new music, and so, in the process, we thought it would be worthwhile to share some of our choice picks from this veritable mass of fresh meat. This is what we’ll be listening to today here at the Village HQ. We hope you join us in doing so!
On the docket for today, May 29th, 2020:
Xibalba, Atavistia, Paralysis, and Held In Secret
Here at the Sleeping Village, we keep our most revered albums in....a very special place. Their time may have gone, but they are certainly not forgotten. On the today's docket is an album that landed pretty high on my AOTY list of 2018, and remains in near-constant rotation to this day. Hence:
I sing the praises of this album quite frequently, but, as today is its second birthday, I feel that a little more chit-chat on the matter is justified. Why? Judicator is my favorite power metal band. Full stop.
Taking the glorious bombast of the Blind Guardian (et. al.) Germanic power metal scene and combining it with subtle thrash sensibilities, Judicator perfectly balances monolithic vocal melodies with righteously aggressive riffs 'n' drums. 2018's The Last Emperor ended up at #6 on my year end list, and has continued to steal the spotlight since. Their entire discography is worthy of similar attention. Hooky yet complex tracks are the name of the game, and frankly, if you're mad at power metal because it epitomizes this formula, we can't really help ye out.
Here at the Village, we keep our most revered albums in a very special place. As you may recall, a few months ago, one fearless Villager took you on a wild ride through the Village Crypt, along with a special guest. This time around, Loveloth is back in the Crypt with--you guessed it--another Devin feature.
After Addicted, there was a year and a half of silence until one faithful day, the Devin Townsend Project unleashed not one but two records, Ghost and Deconstruction. Each represents an extreme. Today we delve into the convoluted, absurd and insane Deconstruction, which is actually the record that started my reviewing journey. Three years ago, I wanted to do a review of it for Metal Archives, but the admins deemed it as too long and detailed and I completely understand why. However, the Village bears no mind to length *insert dick joke here* as long as it's good, and I definitely improved over these past few years, so prepare for a wild ride because this record deserves it. But before we get into the nitty gritty, a few facts about Deconstruction.
It's a concept album but it's an absurd and hilarious one, just like the previously eternalized Ziltoid. The story revolves around a man obsessed with finding the true nature of reality, and we watch him travel to Hell itself where he meets the Devil who grants him his wish. There is a twist to the story and it comes in a shape of a cheeseburger. The cheeseburger contains the secrets of the universe but our protagonist is a "vegemetarian" so his whole struggle was pointless. There is a positive message cleverly hidden here, and it's basically overcoming your fears and moving on, and the chaotic nature of the record reflects it.
With Devin at the helm and Ryan Van Poederooyen and Dirk Verbeuren (who I shall continue to refer as "The Dirk") as the two main drummers, this would be enough for most musicians, but not for Devin who decided to go all out. What we ended up with here is the single best line-up of guest musicians of all time (sorry Ayreon). People such as Fredrik Thorendal of that underground band Meshuggah, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Ihsahn, Joe Duplantier, Tommy Giles, Greg Puciato, Floor Jansen and Prague's very own Philharmonic Orchestra are just some of the names that will pop up on this insane record, and all of their contributions elevate Deconstruction to glorious and flatulent heights.
With that large set of information out of the way, we can finally jump in the rabbithole and see why I hold Decon in such high regard. Things start off innocently enough with the soft, electronic tinges of "Praise The Lowered". That innocence slowly fades as the track subtly adds new elements and reaches a breaking point midway through, but the chaos slowly subsides and morphs into "Stand" which, similarly to the previous track, plays with build-ups and dynamics. But this time we have Åkerfeldt and chugging in the mix and here our protagonist reaches the fiery depths of Hell but the sound palette that surrounds this voyage is oddly grandiose.
What follows is "Juular" and here is where we plummit into complete chaos. With insane, unrelenting Dirk blasts that mimic a steam locomotive on speed, "Juular" barrels through and leaves nothing in its wake. It's quirky, frantic and the closest thing we got to SYL in a long time. I would even say how it surpasses SYL. The addition of Ihsahn in the chorus certainly doesn't take away from the experience either.
Now what follows is the pinnacle of Deconstruction. It starts with "Planet Of The Apes", the first of three insane epics and it contains one of the funniest, most unexpected and relevant lines in modern metal: "While we all have lots of bands who influence still...we all rip off Meshuggah!" I vividly remember laughing out loud when hearing this for the first time, and you would be surprised how many times this occurred during the entirety of this absurd record.
However, absurdity and humor isn't the only thing carrying "Planet Of The Apes" and the rest of the record, it's everything. Even the extremely layered production works but I do wish there was more breathing room, especially for the choir which strengthens each vocal line by each guest. Things like chanting Jesus, Jihad, Jesus in the background of "Planet Of Apes" only add to my resolve.
With the frenetic "Sumeria" passing the middle mark of the record, the colossal "The Mighty Masturbater" appears, and is the culmination of everything we heard and more. Mind-boggling arpeggios and sweep picks, electronic breakdowns, swingy carnival-like bursts, and a huge buildup near the middle point of the track where Devin holds a speech. We get one of the best builds up of all time and while it lasts a bit too long, it never ceases to bring down chills down my spine. The crowd yells and Greg Puciato chants morph from "We praise God! He lives inside of our hearts!" to "We praise ourselves! We live inside of our minds" to finally "We praise Satan! He lives inside of our hearts!" and each time we reach a new level, his screams become more vitriolic and intense. This undoubtedly represents the decadence mankind is going through, and our infinite greed and selfishlesness. It's overwhelming, unrestrained, and brilliant, and the fact I spent writing one paragraph about one song speaks enough about how deep this record is and how much I love it.
Deconstruction is easily Devin's most technical, complex, and insane record he's ever made, and I seriously doubt he will ever top it. From the fourth-wall breaking parodies of sweep picking and arpeggios while doing exactly that, to fart jokes and choirs screaming "cheeseburger" while he melts the universe on his comically large Flying V, one could easily say this is too much and I agree, it will be for the majority. Ear fatigue was real, even for me, but something always called me back to it. It's the insane amount of details that resides in this ludicrous work of art, and it only becomes more apparent after your brain processes what's actually happening. Deconstruction was a challenge to Devin and it is to the listener, and that's the most exciting part. Despite it being too much, I still consider this to be a ground-breaking, unbelievably complex, and fun record that has a lot going for it, perhaps too much. So if this chaotic review piqued your interest, feel free to enter what I feel is the most alluringly insane record of all time and more than worthy pick to enter the Village Crypt where it will reside peacefully for the first time in its lifetime.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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