Review By Dustin Griffin
Casualties of Cool is a release that musically will perplex many who are only familiar with Devin Townsend’s better known heavy metal counterpart Strapping Young Lad. Featuring the band Ki’s singer Che Aimee Dorval, Casualties of Cool is a swirling mix of indie pop, old school country and shoe gaze with jazzy accents. It’s a very ethereal record and couldn’t sound farther from the jokey sensibilities and anvil like heaviness of Lad. In fact, this is the first of Townsend’s dozen or so solo albums that bears this departure. The rest have varying degrees of similarity to Strapping Young Lad, save perhaps his Unplugged album from 2011.
The cover of the record finds art in minimalism. It’s simplicity is its strength, not unlike the record itself at times. An old 50’s radio, sitting in ash and still smoking from whatever explosion it has just endured. Without a specific timeframe we’re left to fill in the blanks ourselves.
Due to the model of the radio and the fact that it’s still smoking, I’m venturing a guess it’s a victim of a WWII era bomb raid, perhaps on an unsuspecting village. Or it could be a leftover from the Apollo 11 mission. A token left in the sandy surface of the grey planet by the astronauts who landed there so many years ago (or who Stanley Kubrick filmed landing there in a Hollywood studio if you’re a conspiracy theorist).
From what I’ve heard of the album, there’s no specific reference to the cover image buried within the lyrics of the album itself, unless I missed it. Which means at the end of the day, it could simply be a cool image of a radio in a pile of ash-looking stuff, gussied up to accompany a haunting and soulful record by a man not previously known for such sounds. So wherever Townsend goes in his career from here on out, be it back to the heavy, or further into the crooning. As far as the point of this article is concerned, all that matters this month is that his new record Casualties of Cool bears the coolest cover art we saw. At least he has that to hang on his wall.