Devin Townsend Terria

The pressures of being a prolific, slightly unbalanced but incredibly creative aggressive music genius must be overwhelming, but such is the plight of Canada's favourite metallic son, Devin Townsend. The metallic mastermind of cyber industrial thrash purveyors Strapping Young Lad unleashes yet another solo/side-project, following the melodic speed metal of his Physicist project and his more left of centre Infinity and Ocean Machine endeavours. As always, fellow Lad and drum legend Gene Hoglan has Devin's back, supplying the beats and rhythms, as he has done ever since trading up from Testament after a successful tenure in Death, not to mention his Dark Angel legacy. However, while Strapping Young Lad is a more relentless pursuit, and Physicist softened that abrasiveness but maintained the energy, Terria eschews the Lad's trash pace and relentless metallic maelstrom in favour of a more artistic, layered and progressive approach. Verging on Devin's past metallic achievements, but never quite wholeheartedly succumbing, Terria is an ethereal album that continuously builds upon its lofty ambitions and seemingly endlessly adds layer upon layer to its sonic architecture. Often in danger of collapsing under the considerable weight of its own pretensions - since artistic prog rock, metal and ambient soundscapes are a difficult synthesis to balance - Terria succeeds in becoming a rather moving journey between its disparate musical peaks and valleys because of Devin's immense talent, even if he does occasionally delve too far into slick excess. While ardent fans of Devin's metallic transgressions may be hesitant, "heavy" music fans with the capacity for musical risk, and its subsequent rewards, will be sated. (HDR)