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Devin Townsend definitely got the name right when brainstorming for his latest because “epic” and “loud” are definitely the best words to describe Epicloud. Yes, the hardest working man in metal and hard rock is back following the 4-album concept album released between 2010 and 2011, the collected edition box set Contain Us, and the just released By A Thread live box set that saw Townsend perform each of the four albums over four nights in London late last year.

It’s as if all of the personalities from the four have been collected under one roof and even the quiet tracks (“Where We Belong”, “Save Our Now”) are deliciously epic. Probably most in tone with Addicted though (If you were looking for a comparison), Epicloud is just bold from the moment the choir belts out the first notes of “Effervescent!”. From there it gets louder and more bombastic. “True North” starts with the always welcome Anneke Van Giersbergen belting out some sweet sounds until syncing with Townsend in glorious harmony. “Liberation” is a rocker through and through while the already mentioned “Where We Belong” and “Save Our Now” are just beautiful.

A live staple over the last decade or so, Townsend resurrects “Kingdom” off 2000’s Physicist  and the results are heavenly. The production is clearer, the guitars are supersonic, and the overall feel is just, well, epic. Later on, the two pronged attack of “Grace” and “More” serve as reminders as to why the man who invented the “skullet” still has the nickname “Hevy Devy”. Anneke butters up listeners with sweetness to start “Grace” until a brutal drone slaughters the senses while “More” is just this driving metal shredfest with hands down the most badass heavy metal breakdown of 2012 at the end.

Like most Townsend records, one is simply not enough. In the case of Epicloud, there’s a digipak version available which completes the whole picture entitled “Epiclouder”. It’s a 10-track album of completely new songs that didn’t quite fit on Epicloud. While it’s easy to tell why these songs didn’t fit on the main album, “Epiclouder” is still essential listening to complete the experience.

Whether it’s the living dream of “Believe” that begins the second record or the countrified metal that invigorates “Quietus”, Townsend proves that nothing he writes is a throwaway track. “Love Tonight” treads Addicted territory while “Whoah No!” is definitely one of the most straight up metal anthems Townsend has written despite the wacky saxophone intro. For those of you craving the Ziltoid/SYL/Deconstruction side, look no further than the seven minute plus “Socialization” which is sure to satisfy endlessly.

If you read this space regularly, you already know how I feel about this man but as a music fan I still can’t stress enough how important this record is. Get the digi or regular versions or maybe even one with a teddy bear? Available for order here.

Grade: A+

 

 

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