Wow, Hevy Dev has been through a lot lately, elliptically referring to ridding himself of myriad addictions and, in parcel, embarking on a new musical path after the implosion of Strapping. Ki is the first of a four record series, for which Devin will assemble different sets of musicians, for… God knows what, after this! So what is Ki? Well, you could compare it most directly with mellow Porcupine Tree, Dev singing very much like Steven Wilson (or Alan Parsons! Or Gary Wright!) over luded-out Chroma Key/Floyd jams played by a 62-year-old drummer and two other non-metal guys Dev tapped on the shoulder to be his soldiers. ‘Heaven Send’ threatens metal, but the whole idea here is quiet, bubbling under anger, or at least fulmination, quiet Tool also coming to mind, even Alice in Chains in their Sap and Jar Of Flies… abdication of power. There’s a lot of bass strummery (like a Tony Levin solo record), and clean electric guitar strummery, giving the album an odd identity – even in the Elvis jive of ‘Trainfire’, or the Bruce Cockburn folk of ‘Quiet Riot’. The title track is probably the coolest, proggiest thing here, but repeated listens, in fact, reveal all sorts of things going on just under the surface, on a record that initially, to me, felt under-arranged, frustratingly unplugged. Actually, it just hit me… these vocals are most like Steve Hackett, who weirdly is also on InsideOut, making fantastic albums these day, I might add. In any event, mellowest thing Dev’s ever done, by far, but (very) thankfully, it’s pretty much all songs and not straight trippin’.