Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Devin Townsend - Terria

It is fitting that the cover art of Devin's latest sensuous, sumptuous contribution to the betterment of life through sound features the Matchbox 20 singer guy pondering a pre-monsoon African mist (hey, I think I'm kidding here). But if the image received is different than the one sent, it still fits because Terria is pop for post-pop toasties, an impossibly tangled, infinite string of tiny Christmas lights suspended in the humidity of a Masai-like setting, the lion that kills the beloved gazelles of the industry. Devin essentially locks the door to his padded cell and then announces, 'Warning: enter if you are willing to try a thousand keys. Er, I was too busy to write an instruction sheet. Read Tool's.' He does this by piling up something like a dozen minutes of rumble and tumble before the songs start. And even then, there are fragments of nonsense to ease you into the back two thirds, which comprise basically, his slowest, mellowest, most melodic songs yet. But Terria mirrors, or kaleido-scopes Infinity and Ocean Machine in that the layers contain all of life, from space through thin ethereals, recognizable sky, mist, clear air turbulence, hot air puffery, cool grass, swamp, and all the reds, browns, rocks and lava lumps of the solid reassurance below. His is a plan of unbelievable strata, joyous molecular activity and horizon-bending majesty, these songs chewing up fresh-tilled acres of earspace as they eventually, irreversibly become clear then dear. Still, people appreciate Devin for straddling, struggling, obsessing, heckling, bum-rushing and cutting himself up as he dances the line between thrash and The Beatles, and in a couple places here, he commits too heavily to playing the crooner at downwound velocities. But this makes for cohesion, Devin finally creating an album of songs that beat out all comers (Anathema, Radiohead) as something that flows with the authority of say, Pink Floyd's Animals (even as Terria more accurately references the positive religiosity of Yes, mythologically biting its own tail by closing with a food chain bug buzz drone similar to 'Close To The Edge', the greatest prog song and side of all time). And it's cool how the lyrics celebrate the nut that is nature, Devin cut and pasting the absurdity of things, the overall vibe matching the music: a loaded-up, over-loaded, electrical disaster about to happen, neurons and electrons about to misfire because of too much awareness, ambition and neurotica with respect to the former, too much geek tech acumen with respect to the latter.
Rating 9

Astroqueen - Into Submission

These stoner Swedes hail from just north of Gothenburg and in their brief existence, have hatched a 7" and a few compilation tracks. Into Submission has finally arrived after a belaboured cycle full of delays. The result is a fuzzy Kyuss-derived stoner cookie-cutter short on inspiration but acceptably long on kicking ass enjoyment if one craves voraciously more indistinguishable permutations of this form. The album was produced by Andy LaRocque at Los Angered but bears none of his stamp. It is merely a collection of predictably space-themed groove rockers with a Kyuss-styled vocalist and much use of very distorted power chords and like-minded bass guitars. The glut from Sweden widens.
Rating 5

Hard Reviews Page 3