Devin Townsend - Infinity
Sony Records
Epic Progressive Metal, Avant-Garde
9 songs (41:27)
Release year: 1998
Devin Townsend
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Although our estranged cousins in the commercial world are quite happy with their musicians being celebrities, we Metalheads don’t like it when our artists get too happy with the rock star persona. Even the relatively successful likes of In Flames and Lacuna Coil don’t have their movements reported on beyond a casual curiosity, whilst the likes of Gaahl are more figureheads to a deeply confused scene than people famous in their own rights. If we ever were to pick a Metal statesman, a spokesman whom fans generally looked up to and were interested in as a person, the chances are that Devin Townsend would be close to the top of the list.

Of course, being who he is the crazy Canadian would doubtless run the other way if approached for the position, but that doesn’t diminish his standing. His two main projects, the now defunct Strapping Young Lad and his self-titled band, often seemed at odds: one violent and full of rage, the other blissful and at peace, and Infinity, the first album to be released under his own name and coming a year after Strapping Young Lad’s 1997 masterpiece City, is no exception. Where City is raging and tormented, disgusted at life and full of bile, Infinity is the polar opposite; in love with life, joyful, playful – yet both albums are almost equally epic, fantastic blasts of Metal that have barely aged in the ten or so years since they were released. In fact, Infinity would be a Classic was it not for this site’s ‘ten years’ rule, and we’re still a few months short of the deadline…

Worry not, DT fanboys and girls, because this doesn’t stop the album being absolutely amazing. From the moment that the first fuzzy riffs of Truth kick in and the choir builds to something that out-epics all three Lord Of The Rings films you’ll be in love, and throughout the album that love is encouraged until there’ll be little to stop you declaring Infinity one of your favourite ever albums. If you haven’t heard it, then you really should stop reading and order it right away, for how else will you understand the excellence? How can I describe to you how sublime the last few moments of Truth are, before first song proper Christine rolls in, at once both maddeningly catchy and twisted in the most Progressive of ways, the layered instruments sounding better than any orchestra? How else to describe the big-band insanity of Bad Devil, which throws everything from trombone solos to the kitchen sink into the mix and still comes off with such a great sound that it rivals Mr Bungle’s debut for catchy madness?

It’s nearly impossible to describe the impact that tracks such as War have without going into superlatives, but it’s when you sit down and listen to the whole album altogether that you realise just how damn special this is. Aural orgasm after aural orgasm hits your ears, without pretentiousness or what’s generally known as wank; yes, here we have a highly skilled group of musicians working together rather than apart to create a masterpiece. Without Devin, though, the result would be very different, and it’s he that makes all the difference here, simultaneously a frontman and a conductor, his layered vocals sliding over the music like honey over ice cream, like a dusting of snow over the movement of tectonic plates.

Listening to Infinity, quite simply, messes with my head. Ultimately, the experience is what I’d imagine having an alien reformat your brain and fill it with marshmallows feels like, and honestly, there are few artists that can make me spout nonsense like that. For all his faults (SYL’s The New Black was a dreadfully weak effort, and Ziltoid The Omniscient was very overrated…) when Devin Townsend is on form he’s simply out of this world, and Infinity is (one of) his finest. This is one of those awesome albums that you can tell people about without hesitation, a vital milestone on the Metallic highway whether you’re just getting over how heavy Pantera are or you regularly space out to Paysage d’Hiver demos. Seriously, if you’re not yet taken steps towards Infinity then now is the time to correct that. Highly, highly, highly recommended.

Killing Songs :
Truth, Christine, Bad Devil, War, Soul-Driven Cadillac, Ants, Wild Colonial Boy, Life Is All Dynamics, Unity
Goat quoted 93 / 100
Other albums by Devin Townsend that we have reviewed:
Devin Townsend - Empath reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
Devin Townsend - Ziltoid The Omniscient reviewed by Dylan and quoted 95 / 100
Devin Townsend - Devlab reviewed by Ken and quoted 80 / 100
Devin Townsend - Terria reviewed by Paul and quoted 80 / 100
Devin Townsend - Physicist reviewed by Danny and quoted 95 / 100
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