So here it is, the final album in the highly awaited Devin Townsend Project tetralogy. Three other releases have led up to this album, the culmination of years and years of work! Sure, a lot of the material released up to this point has been lacklustre, but that doesn't matter! This is the finale, the topping on the cake, and therefore it has to be the most amazing release so far, right?
Yeah, I wouldn't get your hopes up about that. This album was about as satisfying as drinking a lite beer at Oktoberfest.
So, imagine that Ki and The Hummer had a bastardized love child, and you'll have roughly what Ghost sounds like. It's simultaneously trying to be a floaty, ambient album and a soft progressive rock piece. Sometimes it's open and filled with airy ambiance, and the rest of the time it's pianissimo acoustic rock. While that may sound appealing on the surface, the actual result is less than pleasing. What we wind up with is an album with this constant stylistic tension to it—the rock pieces feel too light and static to be enjoyable, and the ambient sections feel out-of-place and directionless. I feel like Townsend was almost trying to recapture the feel of Ocean Machine: Biomech, which blended rock and ambiance perfectly, and yet somehow managed to miss everything that he had done right before.
Because it is trying to cram both free-form and structured music into the same space, the album itself winds up being too flat to be attention-holding. The pieces offer little to nothing to hold on to while listening, causing the album to force itself into the background and defy conscious listening. The only places where it does manage to grab attention are the small sections where the acoustic and the ambient aren't trying to fight each other; both “Ghost” and “Kawaii” are good pieces simply because the music isn't fighting itself in this way. In the longer pieces like “Texada” and “Feather” where the music tries to cram both styles in, it makes the songs sound extremely forced and flat-out unenjoyable. The pieces seem to drag on without development or interest and become impossible to listen to without boredom. This is one of the few albums where I've found myself consciously looking at the progress bars for each song and wondering when they would be over.
And even when the music isn't stuck with this stylistic clash, the pieces are still below-average for Townsend. Pretty much all of the songs here pale in comparison to their stylistic counterparts on Ki and other albums. Though pieces like “Blackberry” and “Heart Baby” may be some of the stronger pieces on Ghost, they aren't nearly strong enough to be considered on their own against the rest of Townsend's impressive catalogue. Because Ghost doesn't house any career standout tracks like “Earth Day” or “Depth Charge” and lacks any infectiously fun tracks like “Bend it Like Bender!” or “Vampira,” there is little reason to listen to this album.
This album combines the worst aspects of Townsend's career into one package, taking the below-average composition level of Deconstruction with the relatively static feel of Ki. It doesn't have any amazingly standout moments like Addicted had that would save it and make it worth listening to. I really do feel bad for ripping on Ghost, because it is apparent that these pieces are close to Townsend's heart, and there really is a whole lot of soul put into this music. Unfortunately, that's all there really is to it.
4.0 / 10
You may never suspect it, but listening to the catalogue of Canadian musician Devin Townsend will cause you to run the gamut of extreme metal, new age, arena rock, ambient, ...
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