Friday, May 23, 2014

Casualties of Cool - S/T (2014)

While we are waiting for the long awaited follow up album to "Ziltoid The Omniscient", the Canadian mad man Devin Townsend decided to take his music to another, more undiscovered, territory. During his career, he has experimented with punk, ambient, death metal and several other music forms, but this time, he is focusing on a country album entitled "Casualties of Cool", which he decided to release under a new project (with the same name as the album) instead of it being a DTP release. And it seems like people is hyped for this release since the pledge campaign that Devin launched to cover the costs of this recording reached over 500%.

Helping him with this record, we have the female vocalist Ché Aimee Dorval, which Devin fans might remember from the DTP album "Ki", drummer Morgan Ågren and a guest apperance by Jørgen Munkeby from Shining. He is emerging in the track "Moon" with some sexy saxophone beats, making it one of the more memorable songs in the album.

The album itself is a concept album, about a traveler in a sentient planet that feeds on fear, but with the help of an old radio and phonograph, he can confront his own fear, and thereby, freeing his own soul. It is an interesting story, but you really have to go deep into the lyrics to really understand it, which is both positive and negative. It is positive because it is not too obviously told, but it is negative since most of the listeners might not see a cohesive story in the album.

What matters though is how the music is working together with the lyrics and the story, and I have to say, it works nicely. The album is labeled as country rock, and I can definitely hear some country influences here and there, but I would probably label "Casualties of Cool" as a ambient album with hints of country and blues. It is definitely a album that can be compared to Devin's previous ambient efforts, such as "Ghost" and "The Hummer", but I would put this album at the top because it feels so mature and it is more versatile than the other albums. But is it a album that I would recommend Devin's metal fan base? I would suggest them to give it a try, but remind them that this is not a metal release. If you did not like "Ghost" or "The Hummer", then the chances are slim that you will enjoy this album.

There are not many songs that stands out in "Casualties of Cool", but the ones that does stand out does it in a good way. The saxophone in "Moon" gives the album a nice jazz touch, the beautiful "Flight" brings some atmosphere to the record, "Forgive Me" has a nice, smooth flow, "Deathscope" is a wild piece that could wake up them who sleeps through this album, and the longest song, "The Bridge", is an epic creation that would also fit nicely in "Epicloud". These songs makes "Casualties of Cool" a very nice album, but for it to be a great album, I would have like more stand out songs and fewer anonymous ones.

I am glad that Devin did not go full out with the country on the album, because I would have probably hated it. But the mix of ambient and country blues that "Casualties of Cool" gives us is an interesting and soft style that I can enjoy. I am still more hyped for the second Ziltoid record, but until then, "Casualties of Cool" will do a good job on meeting my, and anyone else's, need for new Devin Townsend music.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Bridge, Moon, Forgive Me

Rating: 7/10 Bones

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