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Accelerated Evolution

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Accelerated Evolution
Devin Townsend Accelerated Evolution cover.jpg
The cover of the special-edition release of Accelerated Evolution, which contained the electronica EP Project EKO.
Studio album by The Devin Townsend Band
Released March 31, 2003
Recorded September to November 2002 at The Armoury, Merchland and Hipposonic studios, Vancouver, BC
Genre Progressive metal, hard rock, alternative rock
Length 54:30
Label HevyDevy
Producer Devin Townsend
The Devin Townsend Band chronology
Accelerated Evolution
(2003)
Synchestra
(2006)
Devin Townsend chronology
Strapping Young Lad
(2003)
Accelerated Evolution
(2003)
Devlab
(2004)

Accelerated Evolution is the sixth studio album by Canadian musician Devin Townsend, released in 2003. The album, written and produced by Townsend, was a mix of musical styles from alternative and hard rock to progressive metal.[1] Townsend, the lead vocalist and guitarist, assembled a group of Vancouver musicians to perform with him on the album: guitarist Brian Waddell, drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen, bassist Mike Young, and keyboardist Dave Young. This lineup, the Devin Townsend Band, was Townsend's first dedicated lineup for his solo material, and was created as a counterpart to Townsend's extreme metal project Strapping Young Lad.

Accelerated Evolution was written and recorded at the same time as Strapping Young Lad's self-titled album, with Townsend dividing his energy between the two. Accelerated Evolution was recorded in Vancouver, British Columbia from September to November 2002, and was released on Townsend's independent label, HevyDevy Records, in March 2003. The album was well received by critics[2] for its blend of genres and influences, its musical accessibility, and its large-scale rock production style.

Background[edit]

During the creation of his early solo albums Infinity (1998) and Physicist (2000), Devin Townsend went through personal struggles that affected his writing ability. These struggles were resolved on Terria (2001), which Townsend described as "a really healing record". After Terria, Townsend felt a newfound enthusiasm for his music, saying, "Bring it on. I'm going to be so fucking sensitive but so intense, and be unafraid to be either."[3] In 2002, Townsend began work on his next two albums. He reunited his extreme metal project Strapping Young Lad, which had been on hiatus for four years,[4] and began writing the band's new release, Strapping Young Lad (SYL).

At the same time, Townsend formed a new, permanent band "on par with Strapping" to record and tour for his solo releases.[3] The Devin Townsend Band consisted of Brian Waddell on guitar, Ryan Van Poederooyen on drums, and brothers Mike Young and Dave Young on bass and keyboards, respectively. Townsend performed guitar, vocals, and production, as he did in Strapping Young Lad. Townsend chose members of local bands who "hadn't had the same experiences" and could give a fresh perspective on "all those emotions" that were present in his solo material. He found it "refreshing" to play with people who appreciated his solo material more than Strapping Young Lad's.[3] Notable was the absence of drummer Gene Hoglan of Strapping Young Lad,[5] who had played on Townsend's previous three solo albums.

Townsend wrote and produced the band's first album at the same time he was working on SYL,[3] spending half the week on one and half on the other.[6] The album was engineered and mixed by Townsend and Shaun Thingvold, who has worked on many of Townsend's and Strapping Young Lad's albums. It had the working title Relationships,[2] but was renamed Accelerated Evolution, a nod to the frantic pace of putting a new band together in under a year.[3]

Music[edit]

Accelerated Evolution was written as "the polar opposite" of SYL.[7] The album blended aspects of different genres, including alternative rock, hard rock, and progressive metal,[1] with elements of "heaviness, ambience, humor, and experimentalism".[7] The album has been described as more melodic and more rock-based than SYL or Physicist, yet "more song-oriented" than Terria,[5] with influences by John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, and Rush.[8] Songs such as "Storm", "Suicide", and "Sunday Afternoon" were compared to Townsend's Infinity, but were noted as "less frantic and more mature".[5] Townsend wrote the album to be "commercially viable", making his existing style more concise and accessible but without going so far as to write "pop songs".[3] Townsend utilized clean vocals much more than in his previous albums,[7] and produced and mixed the album in his trademark "wall of sound" style, blending "layers upon layers of guitars, keyboards, and vocals".[7]

Release[edit]

Accelerated Evolution was released in March 2003 on Townsend's independent label, HevyDevy Records. It is distributed in Canada by HevyDevy, in Japan by Sony, and in Europe and North America by InsideOut. The album art was created by Travis Smith, who also did the art for Terria and SYL. InsideOut also released a special edition of the album which contained a 3-track EP called Project EKO, Townsend's first foray into electronica.[9] The album reached number 135 on the French albums chart[10] and number 249 on the Japanese albums chart.[11]

Prior to the formation of the Devin Townsend Band, Townsend had represented his solo releases live with the Strapping Young Lad lineup; the band would play one set of Strapping Young Lad songs and one set of Devin Townsend songs.[12] After the release of Accelerated Evolution, Townsend began touring with The Devin Townsend Band, at times separately from Strapping Young Lad[13] and at times sharing the bill.[14] After playing two release shows in Vancouver in July 2003,[15] The Devin Townsend Band toured Canada with Strapping Young Lad and Zimmers Hole in October 2003.[16] This was followed by a North American tour with progressive metal band Symphony X through November and December 2003.[16][17]

Critical reception[edit]

Accelerated Evolution was well received by critics.[2] Mike G. of Metal Maniacs called Accelerated Evolution "the album of the year", praising it for "the hard-to-accomplish trick of being extreme yet accessible, simultaneously heavy 'n' rockin' yet majestic and beautiful."[8] William Hughes of Sputnikmusic called it "amazing", saying the album "has elements that will appeal to fans of all different genres, from progressive to metal."[18] Alex Henderson of Allmusic called the album "excellent", and praised Townsend's ability to blend genres and influences: "The Canadian rocker provides enough downtuned guitars to put this CD in the alt rock category. And yet Accelerated Evolution has a big sound that suggests the pop-metal, arena rock and hard rock of the '70s and '80s – big melodies, big harmonies, big guitars, big vocals, big production."[1] Chris Hawkins of KNAC.com said, "Like always, what Devin manages to do is take the most infectious rhythm, place his stamp upon it, and thus create something completely original."[7] Xander Hoose of Chronicles of Chaos compared the album favorably to SYL, noting that "there is more variation, and the songs are more memorable and layered than their one-dimensional SYL counterparts." Hoose added, "For those who thought Terria was going too much in the wrong direction, Accelerated Evolution will probably come as a relief."[5]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Devin Townsend.

No. Title Length
1. "Depth Charge" 6:04
2. "Storm" 4:39
3. "Random Analysis" 5:59
4. "Deadhead" 8:05
5. "Suicide" 6:45
6. "Traveller" 4:13
7. "Away" 7:49
8. "Sunday Afternoon" 6:20
9. "Slow Me Down" 4:35
Total length: 54:30

Inside Out Music's special edition of Accelerated Evolution included Project EKO, an electronica EP by Townsend.

Project EKO
No. Title Length
1. "Locate" 6:59
2. "Echo" 5:29
3. "Assignable" 5:20
Total length: 17:08

Chart performance[edit]

Chart Weeks Peak position
SNEP (France)[10] 1 135
Oricon (Japan)[11] 1 249

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

Artwork[edit]

  • Omer Cordell – photography (credited as Omer Shaked)
  • Travis Smith – graphics, layout

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Henderson, Alex. "Accelerated Evolution: Review." Allmusic.
  2. ^ a b c Sharpe-Young, Garry (2005). New Wave of American Heavy Metal. pp. 115. New Plymouth: Zonda Books Limited. ISBN 0-9582684-0-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Popoff, Martin (Winter–Spring 2003). "Strapping Young Lad." Lollipop Magazine (61).
  4. ^ Gramlich, Chris (February 2003). "The Reluctant Return of Strapping Young Lad". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  5. ^ a b c d Hoose, Xander (May 21, 2003). "Devin Townsend Band – Accelerated Evolution." Chronicles of Chaos.
  6. ^ "Lord of the Wasteland"; Lehtinen, Arto (June 16, 2005). "Interview With Gene Hoglan". Metal-Rules.com. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Hawkins, Chris (May 6, 2003). "Reviews – Devin Townsend Accelerated Evolution Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.." KNAC.com.
  8. ^ a b G., Mike (September 2003). "The Devin Townsend Band: No Holds Barred." Metal Maniacs.
  9. ^ "Justin" (October 2, 2003). "Devin Townsend interview." Metal Storm.
  10. ^ a b (French) "The Devin Townsend Band – Accelerated Evolution[permanent dead link]." Les Charts. Retrieved May 27, 2009.
  11. ^ a b (Japanese) "アクセルレイティッド・エヴォルーション/デヴィン・タウンゼンド." Oricon. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
  12. ^ Gibson, Doug (June 26, 2005). "Interview with Strapping Young Lad's Jed Simon." Metal Underground.
  13. ^ Turner, Tracy. "Devin Townsend Biography". HevyDevy Records. Archived from the original on 2008-01-18. 
  14. ^ Kee, Chris (May 2003). "Live Review: Strapping Young Lad/Devin Townsend Band/Zimmers Hole." Powerplay (44).
  15. ^ Blabbermouth.net (July 21, 2003). "The Devin Townsend Band: Live Videos Posted Online Archived January 19, 2004, at the Wayback Machine.." Retrieved May 27, 2009.
  16. ^ a b RVP Drums. "Tour Dates Archived August 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.." Retrieved May 27, 2009.
  17. ^ Blabbermouth.net (August 14, 2003). "Symphony X to Tour with the Devin Townsend Band Archived January 8, 2004, at the Wayback Machine.." Retrieved May 27, 2009.
  18. ^ Hughes, Mike (November 29, 2007). "Devin Townsend: Accelerated Evolution." Sputnikmusic.

External links[edit]