Devin Townsend - Infinity review


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Band: Devin Townsend
Album: Infinity
Release date: October 1998

01. Truth
02. Christeen
03. Bad Devil
04. War
05. Soul Driven
06. Ants
07. Colonial Boy
08. Dynamics
09. Unity
10. Noisy Pink Bubbles
11. Sister [Live acoustic version] [bonus]
12. Hide Nowhere [Live acoustic version] [bonus]
13. Man [1996 demo version] [bonus]

Let's put 1998 into perspective. Power metal was in its dying days and nu-metal was on the rise, Kid Rock / System Of A Down / Soulfly were all just releasing their debut albums, the underground metal kings were Iced Earth and Emperor, and Stuck Mojo was far more famous than they had any business being. It was a time period where the established bands of the '80s were still trying to push that sound into the future and a few new artists were coming in to tip over their apple carts, set them on fire, and dance around their smoldering remains. Then Devin Townsend came along and decided to stomp out those fires, pick up their charred remains, and layer them one over the other until people's brains couldn't even comprehend all of the noises at once. This is how Infinity was born.

Devin Townsend was not an unknown commodity in this time period; in fact only a year and a half earlier he released City under the Strapping Young Lad moniker which launched him into immediate legendary status within the extreme metal world. So how did Townsend follow-up an album considered to be the most progressive industrial metal album of its time? With Ocean Machine, an unabashed throwback to the 70s and 80s. At the time of its release Ocean Machine was largely disregarded because it didn't meet people's expectations but as I write this review in August 2016 it is considered one of the greatest albums of the progressive genre ever written. So once he got that out of his system it must mean he was ready to churn out another extreme masterpiece right? Nope, things only get weirder from here.

Infinity, for all of the crazy guitar work going on, is a vocal driven album. This is the album where Townsend's signature production sound bursts onto the scene and his bi-polar tendencies are most on display. Moments of intense chaos blend into serene tranquility as if the two states naturally belong together, absurd nonsense shares space with very serious subject matter, there is no up or down, you are everywhere at once. Most of the listening experience elicits a "what the hell is even going on right now?" response in your brain and there is never a point where that ends. Even when the album ends, sheer compulsive curiosity causes it to be replayed again and again until you're writing a review nearly twenty years later where you're still not sure you have any better answers than you did when you first heard it.

Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing was a middle finger to music critics, City was a deeply personal exploration into a painful past, Ocean Machine was the realization of a childhood dream, and Infinity is proving everyone wrong. Every "you can't do that", "you're ruining your own credibility", "you're stepping on all the wrong toes" comments Townsend ever had to endure were thrown at the wall and molded into an example that all of the naysayers really have no idea what was possible because they were too busy complaining rather than doing. Infinity really is an appropriate name for the album as it explores the infinite possibilities that music offers a person that is willing to put in the effort to make their vision a reality.

= In Short = It is nearly impossible to provide a summary for an album this complex but I'll try to set the outer limits for you. Bubble gum pop meets angry devil man meets schizophrenic tendencies meets peaceful waters. Picture a bunch of happy animals playing in the forest until a bunch of dwarves come in and slaughter them, then the dwarves celebrate their victory with a big party until the elves come in to slaughter them and set up an age of peace that is anything but peaceful...that comes somewhat close to the kinds of emotional ups and downs you're in for here. While this may not be the album I would suggest to someone who is new to Devin Townsend's work as it is such a challenge to wrap your head around, Infinity is still an album worth owning and obsessing over.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Production: 10

Written by WayTooManyCDs | 02.09.2016


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 38 users
09.09.2016 - 11:47
Nice, thanks for your insights, usefull for my Devin Townsend studies

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