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Throwback Thursday: DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECTAddicted

Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. So sit back, relax, and a grab a black coffee (but watch out for Ziltoid), because we're going on a journey in search of modern albums that have primed the canvas of today's metal music scene.

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The contemporary albums in this series serve as tributaries that have, for better or worse, altered the course of the flowing blackness that is the metal steam of life. For this, the ninth edition of this series, we visit a genius artist known in the metal community for both his 'wall of sound'… and his puppets. This album will push your butt back in your chair like the the classic 1980's Maxell commercial, complete with hair blowing back, lamp shade cocked, and tie flapping furiously behind your head. Prepare to rip the paint off the walls with the music of the one and only…

Devin Townsend Project's Addicted

Throwback Thursday: DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT<em>Addicted</em>" width="320" height="320" />
<p><strong>Release Date: November 17th, 2009</strong>
<p><strong>Record Label: HevyDevy Records</strong><div class=Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Devin Townsend and his cavernous diaphragm have been hanging around rock 'n' roll since the 1990's. His first work in the music industry included loaning his vocals on Steve Vai's Sex and Religion album in 1993. From there, Townsend became involved with a variety of bands including the bombastic, insane Strapping Young Lad, punk-rip off Punky Brewster, and Causalities of Cool; projects such as Bent Set and the rock/metal-opera grouping of Aryeon; and self-titled projects such as Devin TownsendDevin Townsend Project and Devin Townsend Band. He has had his fingers in the production of albums such as Soilwork's Natural Born Chaos and Lamb of God's As the Palaces Burn. The Canadian-born singer/songwriter/master of the POV pooping photo is known in the metal community for his refreshing sense of humor, tsunami-like intensity, puppeted weirdness, and outstanding creativity.

Addicted is birthed of the Devin Townsend Project, the second in what is now 7 full-length studio albums. The album was written and produced by Townsend, and features Ryan Van Poederooyen, long-time friend Brian "Beav" Waddell, Mark Cimino, and a stunning female-vocal guest spot from The Gathering's own Anneke van Giersbergen. Addicted is best described by Townsend himself from his own website HevyDevy.com,

Addicted was a record that was made as a conscious effort to be absurdly positive, and even at the time, I was aware that it was almost deludedly so. I knew that the cornerstone of the project would be Deconstruction, the album that was written as an effort to confront myself and my hang ups about heavy music, religion, sex and those sorts of things.

Townsend spent many early years writing and performing fueled by his experimentation with drinking and drugs. According to a 2016 MetalHammer.com article by Christina O'Neill, Townsend was on anti-psychotic medications for 10 years, and according to Townsend, “I said to myself, ‘I don’t know if I’m actually mentally ill in the ways that I’ve been told, or if I was just on a ton of drugs'." Of Addicted, Townsend goes onto say,

So Addicted served as a kind of ‘opening act’ for Deconstruction… I liked to think of it as the curtains that hid the Deconstruction show were closed, and Addicted was playing in front of it to get people’s attention. I had found through all the change and the process that there were certain people in my life that were turning into very dependable friends and cornerstones to bounce things off of musically and otherwise, and I invited them to play on the album. I have always been interested in female vocals (as I prefer them to male) and as luck would have it during the recording of Addicted, Anneke Van Giersbergen sent me an unsolicited mail with an attached video of her singing ‘Hyperdrive’ from Ziltoid. Being a long-time fan of hers, I figured I would take the bull by the horns and ask her if she was interested in singing on the album, and she agreed. The music on Addicted is shiny, easy, and very positive, but again…(especially in relationship to Epicloud), it’s almost deludedly so… there’s no true acknowledgement of the ills of the world, and as such tends to be (for me) an exhausting experience. However, this is THE WHOLE INTENTION of Addicted, and is why it’s named what it is. The idea that you can get addicted to anything, experience, optimism, drugs, whatever… and the breaking of the cycle in Ki leads to the confrontation that the addictive nature in personality ultimately just covers up an inability (or rather the fear) of dealing with the roots of the cause. This made sense, except for the question remained: ‘If you’re willing to confront these things…how do you know what is a fear versus a projection’ how do you know if you’re lying or deluding yourself?…’

A prime example of the shiny positivity he's talking about is found in opening track "Addcited!":

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The cacophonous circus-like breakdown in the middle of the song is a bit of a 4th-wall break, as if to say 'you must be ignoring something festering to be this positive'. Or, maybe it's just huge, intense and interesting because, well, that's what Devin Townsend does.

Addicted was originally part of a pointed series of albums. Each album was intended to have a different style, a different feel, and even different musicians. Even so, tracks like "The Way Home!" are so 'classically' Townsend. Huge, beautiful, grand, sweeping, tender… the list of adjectives goes on and on.

There is a unquestionable and immediately recognizable sound ubiquitous to the works of Townsend – a signature and un-replecatable energy. If you listen to his works across the variety of project names under which they fall, you can hear an evolution of the explorations of tone and intent. Though these albums (such as Ki) may push the boundaries of what 'classic' Townsend sounds like, there's always something about the honesty of his view point, the crushing beauty of his albums, and the journey in each album that compliments the tension, joy, pensiveness, and free-falling spirited wanderer within me. A song which encapsulates this sense for me from this album is the impressively strong and dramatic "Numbered!":

Gales of Anneke van Giersbergen's vocals tie together a song so powerful and dynamic, it stands out in an album full of  powerful odes to 'living'. What a gorgeous tune, froth with the kind of excited, anxious energy that feels like sitting at the top of a roller coaster ride before a big drop. Sweeping guitars and a reserved vocal performance from Townsend give the tune a needed break in intensity. Another song in which Giersbergen just *murders* the vocal track is an updated pick from Townsend's previous work Ziltoid the Omniscient and fan favorite "Hyperdrive!":

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Townsend shows off some of his HUGE vocal range in the mounting and closing song "Awake!"

As far as Addicted is concerned, each track is stupidly catchy. Even for an-the-top positive album, I still find something crushing and tearing in each track listing. Perhaps there is no such thing as manic positivity without the lingering concern of what's next, and the mood of that idea is something which Addicted seems to encapsulate perfectly.

Critics have accused Addicted of being two-dimensional and repetitive. However, Devin's efforts are always under scrutiny because he's not bound by the expectations of others. This freedom from form allows him to create exactly what his head tells him to create. His exploration of 'what's next' is a ride I'm willing to go on again and again, because the spirit and the enormity of his efforts are always woven with brilliance, excellent production and always a bit of un-dulled hope. Each album, Addicted included, crawls towards epiphany in what feels like the search for answers. There is truly no musician who comes close to the wonderful and weird Devin Townsend.

At the behest of some external influence, Heavy Devy has been posting more frequently to his once-dormant Instagram @dvntownsend. You too can enjoy the fruits of what I assume is his down time at airports with edited pictures of urinals with eyeballs and many of Devin's hilarious, distorted faces.

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Thanks as always for reading and I'll see you all next week. Until then, what is your world like with Devin Townsend in it? I'm always happy to listen, and if you'd like to, sound off below with your stories and thoughts about Devin. Xo! See you soon!

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