The Devin Townsend Band Accelerated Evolution

As if his maniacally aggro Strapping Young Lad self-titled album wasn’t enough, Vancouverite Devin Townsend assembles a band of virtual no-names to address — or exorcise — his more commercial side. Letting his solo work permeate the proceedings, Accelerated Evolution is part Terria, part Ocean Machine, all the while toeing the line of heavy, Dream Theater-esque prog without the overbearing keyboard-and-falsetto cheese wizardry. "Depth Charge” (and later "Random Analysis”) keeps the moshers happy with throbbing riffage and throaty screams, while "Storm” and the twice-as-long "Deadhead” are deliberately slower to showcase Townsend’s magnificent songwriting skills. "Suicide” is a heavy prog workout with calculated, Pantera-like bridges, and "Traveller” is Townsend’s version of an epic rock ballad with melodic choruses like a metal version of Modern English. Both "Away” and "Sunday Afternoon” bring down the mood with extended wah-wah guitar solos à la Planet X or Yes, but the AOR-friendly "Slow Me Down” rings true of Whitesnake. As brilliantly brutal as SYL are, DTB have just as many penchants for genius as Townsend’s musical evolution continues to accelerate. And let’s not forget the limited edition digipak with bonus tracks and extended liner notes, too. (Inside Out)