June 28, 2014

Album review: Casualties of Cool

Casualties of Cool

Casualties of Cool is the debut of Devin Townsend and Ché Aimee Dorval's collaboration - not technically a Devin Townsend Project release, but a Devin album all the same. It's atmospheric and ambient, something not typically associated with Devin's catalog, but very much an interest of his. He refers to this album as "late night music, completely isolated sounding and different than anything I've done."

The concept is described as being about a traveler that is lured to a sentient planet, which feeds on the traveler's fear. We're not talking about Ziltoid here, although a second Ziltoid album is in the works with a hopeful 2014 release. Certainly the Casualties concept is an odd one, but not for Devin and his appeal for creativity and thinking outside the box!

"Daddy" and "Mountaintop" kick off the album as bluesy appetizers to an impending journey, followed by the ambient, tranquil "Flight," which is space-like and has what I consider a lonely vibe. Perhaps the feeling of loneliness is intentional. Dorval's wispy, majestic vocals (also featured in 2009's Ki) are perfect for this.

"The Code" is one of my favorite songs, and you can hear frog calls that are similar those in "Blackberry" of Ghost, also one of my favorite songs on that album. It's bouncy, catchy, and features Devin's mellow vocals. He practically whispers and you'll get lost in the experience during the meat of the album. On the other end of the spectrum is the 8-minute "The Bridge," featuring goose bump-inducing vocal harmonies, woodwinds, an epic choir, and a whirlwind of a finale.

Overall, Casualties took a few listens for me to really appreciate since I much prefer Devin's heavier side, but it's right up there with Ghost. At the very least Devin says the album "sounds like haunted Johnny Cash songs" and makes for great background music. Give it a chance even though it may be different...

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