Devin Townsend (band) - Physicist
It feels as if I preface every Devin Townsend or Strapping Young Lad review I do with something along the lines of "I'm probably the biggest DT fan you're going to see on the internet", and I dare anyone to take that challenge. But, like any other catalog of music I find myself enjoying thoroughly, even my favorite solo musician's works have a stinker or two in them. Physicist is a record I come back to on occasion, wondering if time and any newfound sense of perspective will change my feelings about it. Sadly, it never happens, as I constantly find myself loving a few key tracks and nodding off to the rest.
Opener "Namaste" is one of those tracks, and works well as an intro as it is a short, but fully developed, taste of the sound DT has decided to work with this time around. Meeting somewhere between Infinity's spacey melodies and Strapping Young Lad's intensely psychotic extreme industrial metal, Physicist sounds terrific on paper. And it is terrific on the rare moments Devin gets it right; "Namaste", the majestic and overtly catchy "Material", and quasi-epic nature of "Kingdom" and it's monumental breakdown a little over halfway through. Everywhere else, however, the record falls so flat as to be totally unremarkable. It's a shame, but it's the truth. Even the 11-minute "Planet Rain", a track I once had fond feelings for, no longer grasps me like it did, becoming redundant fast.
In a perfect world, DT would have combined elements of past releases into something resembling his best works, but instead, Physicist feels like a hurried and incomplete for a man who takes painstakingly massive steps towards perfecting everything he does musically. The skills he has as a producer and songwriter are evident, but perhaps it was a lack of inspiration, or even time constraints, that ended up dooming the record before it had a chance to flourish. Either way, Physicist is one of the few records in Townsend's discography I would warn others to shy away from.
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on 2007-08-04 SolitaryMan Said:
As a tireless fanboy of all things Townsend, I am constantlly asked the question "Don't you think Physicist sucked? You think all of his records are perfect or near, but NOBODY liked Physicist!". Well, as much as it saddens me to say it, "Physicist" is Townsend's worst album. It is certainly distinguished in the Townsend catalog, both for it's Strapping-like heaviness and it's repetitive nature, but it feels distinguished for all the wrong reasons when you listen to it. Some tracks ("Material" and it's hyperspeed-pop catchiness, or the monumental 11 minute closer "Planet Rain") hint at a direction and a theme to tie all this together, while others just serve to throw the listener off. Extremely heavy, very catchy, but ultimately lacking all the touches and that unique touch of texture and tonal harmony Townsend can conjure up regularly. This feels like a transitional period for him, and despite it's leading into Townsend's pinnacle solo release ("Terria"), this disjointed effort falls flat on it's face as a whole and only works (decently) when it's broken into segments. A disappointment for the high-reaching Townsend, for sure.