Devin Townsend Project – Ki - 4.5/5
Ki is a progressive rock album with some progressive metal interludes interwoven in and yet manages to have a post-rock/post-metalish sound as well due to the composure and crescendos and decrescendos within the various movements of the songs . Any fan of Devin Townsend previous albums could never have expected this. What I’m talking about isn’t another amazing album straight from the mind of a genius, that’s what everyone did expect. What I’m talking about is the complete change in sound and emotion in comparison to Devin’s other albums that is conveyed in this first of four planned releases by the Devin Townsend Project in what is already looking to be a tetralogy to rival Rambo.
While Ki does differ in many aspects from a classic Devin Townsend album, it still retains everything that makes Devin well… Devin. The big difference in Ki from previous Devin releases is that it takes a soft keyboard, synth, and guitar atmospheric (and sometimes even acoustic *gasp*) approach to most all the tracks and is composed of slow subtle build ups that are often followed by a rapid “bringing you back down to this world” type of feeling almost right at the climax. Everything feels so smooth and mellow and seamless though which are hardly adjectives that Devin is used to receiving I’m sure and yet still retain that “edginess” that Devin is known for mainly through the occasional distorted guitar or growled vocal lines. Also one of my favorite voices in all of metal (which is Devin’s for those who have not heard the mixture of angelic tone and range with the roughness of sandpaper or softness of silk, depending on what the occasion calls for, that graces his every release to date) is for the first time ever accompanied by a woman’s. Though the mixture is not used enough through the album in my opinion, her vocal lines are brilliantly placed in the perfect spots on tracks throughout the album and add just that much more depth and variability to a near masterpiece.
Of course, along with the changes, Devin still shines through the atmospheric fog that he begins most tracks off with through catchy lyrics and vocal and song structures. I even began to pick up on the choruses and join in on just a first listen, and yet originality isn’t sacrificed in any aspect. Every song is uniquely its own and yet the album flows seamlessly through each track to where a listener might feel as though they have been listening to one track the entire time upon completion of the album. Every riff seems to have a life of its own and a specific purpose that fits the atmosphere of every song down to the last detail in a way that only Devin can manage to accomplish. Devin does a great job of blending his guitar tone with the rest of the sounds on the album except for a few exceptions when he deliberately brings his sound out. The drumming on the album is no Gene Hoglan (mainly because it isn’t Gene) but it does manage not to detract anything from the album as the generic progressive rock drumming with few if any fills provides a good base and doesn’t hamper the listeners ability to concentrate on the depths of sounds that Devin is painting across the album.
Overall I’m not going to go and say that this album is an “Ocean Machine” or a “The New Black” but it is very impressive none the less and an essential for any fan of Devin Townsend or of Prog Rock/Prog Metal in general. I am really looking forward to the next three (well two at this point but Addicted is also well worth a look.
Highlights: entire album