Devin Townsend recently wrote 60 songs, which he states have “four distinct styles,” each “accountable” for a different musical persona he projects. However you may want to interpret that, Addicted is the second entry in this planned four-part saga of “distinct” styles. All of Townsend’s musical output seems to be rooted -one way or another – in metal thus far. But not all of his recent work has had the unique approach of his sonically overwhelming, extreme metal band, Strapping Young Lad (recently disbanded).
I find my reaction to Addicted oddly akin to how Townsend’s former SYL bandmates reacted to their final single (well, final video) “Almost Again.” Said song features a
singing style and epic ballad structure that didn’t seem to completely fit their thunderous repertoire and, yet, it became one of the band’s personal favourites (quoted in the liner notes of their greatest hits album). With this in mind, it is easier to see how Devin’s music may waver from one genre (or sub-genre) to another but never loses that special touch which makes it distinctly “Devin Townsend.” Addicted has a similar vibe to “Almost Again,” weaving through the many checkpoints of Townsend’s musical history, reminding fans of all that he has done and yet never latching too closely onto SYL or any other moniker he may have adopted.
Former The Gathering lead singer Anneke van Giersbergen handles much of the vocal duties here. Townsend is a more than capable vocalist, in fact his range from screaming to singing is matched by few, if any. But Anneke brings a new and welcome energy to these songs. This same energy is exemplified by the exclamation points that end each song title in the liner notes. This makes it seem as if the packaging is making a promise to the listener before the first track even begins. Fortunately, it turns out to be a promise it can keep, as this album will give you movement in your whole body, from a banging of your head to joyful bounce in your dancing feet. This makes for a strange combo, yes, but anyone who knows Devin Townsend and his work would know that he’d appreciate such odd behaviour.
* out of **