After the magnificent “Terria”, a work that really surprised me when it was released, the mad cannuck is back with the new chapter of his work, “Accelerated Evolution”, having released recently another CD with his project Strapping Young Lad.
My expectations were high after the excellences of his preceding CD. I must say that the result doesn't satisfy them completely. The style on this “Accelerated Evolution” is close to “Terria”, but without its complexity and capacity of evocation; so, the content doesn't honor its title. That "accelerated evolution" is imperceptible; in fact, there's some regression. Townsend has stripped all the songs of any tricks or subtleties, reducing the ambient elements and the keyboard work to a mere anecdote.
The style here is straight, closer to metal than symphonic. In fact, this can be really hard music for anyone who approaches this intense CD from the progressive side. The characteristic elements come from Devin's voice, which has different pitches and registers; Devin uses them wisely, alternating sweet melodies with fierce growls. Likewise, there are some interesting guitar melodies, far from metallic cliches. In the same way, all tracks are supported with a dense wall of keyboards, always on the background, but indispensable to get a widescreen, majestic sound.
The CD opens with "Depth Charge" which, as its title suggests, is an intense and explosive track, eminently metallic, perfect to open the record but far from experimental forms. Next is "Storm", a mellower song which we could define as pop-metal. "Random Analysis" takes up again raw power, but this time with more original elements, noticeable on changing time signatures and structures. This tone is again perceptible on "Deadhead", the longest song of the CD, and one of the best. It doesn't reach the excellence of some “Terria” songs, like the monumental "Earth Day", but it gets an atmosphere, a dense and depressive personality. At the same level, with similar structure, sound and running time (around eight minutes), is "Away", the other remarkable track from the record.
All other songs are an average mix of pop melodies with metal sounds; a perfect example of this is the last track, "Slow Me Down", clearly a pop song that could've been, and this is not a silly idea, on Rush's “Vapor Trails”.
In short, this is a correct work, with some interesting moments, but it doesn't confirm the achievements of that great work called “Terria”, the one for which Devin Townsend deserves to be remembered.