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Devin Townsend - Ocean Machine - Biomech CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend


Experimental/Post Metal

4.01 | 361 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars How? How can one man be so brilliant? This is the question that comes to my mind when I listen to anything spawned by the modern genius that is Devin Townsend. Ocean Machine arrives relatively early in Devin's career; he had only two Strapping Young Lad albums as well as the vicious pop punk satire Cooked on Phonics released under the brilliant name Punky Brüster. He decided to back off the extreme metal and instead focus on a softer sound. He formed a band and released one album: Biomech. The result was stunning.

The album opens with the riff-happy "Seventh Wave" that sets a gentle mood for the album. "Life" comes next and presents us with...pop metal? From SYL frontman Devin Townsend?! Yes, it is pop, but it's pop done perfect, with deep lyrics, catchy melodies, and emotion. "Night" is the first song that really moves the listener, but it certainly won't be the last. "Hide Nowhere" is a highlight of the album, with an excellent melody. It also establishes multi-layered vocals as a standard in Devin's work. "Sister" is a mellow instrumental interlude that sets the standard for instrumentals on later albums. "3 A.M." sounds like the beginnings of Terria with its bizarre sounds. "Greetings" shifts the sound back to atmospheric guitar and brings things back to Earth.

"Regulator" is a nod to the SYL fans that made up a huge portion of this album's audience. It isn't as extreme as SYL, but it's riff heavy and features some great screaming. "Funeral" raises the bar for the already wonderful atmosphere with surprisingly uplifting lyrics and instrumentation. It smoothly flows into "Bastard," which has a killer riff spaced out over a churning tempo in order to fill every crevice of your ears and mind.

Then comes my favorite Devin track. "The Death of Music" is a 12 minute opus consisting of only an electronic drum beat, a near-silent guitar that plays only one or two chords, and simple keyboards that expand to create the bulk of the sound. Devin's vocals here are his best, as he goes from growls to soaring cries effortlessly. The sound gradually fades as the music slowly passes from this world and leaves only contemplation in your mind. "The Death of Music" defies it's name by proving that music is stronger than ever, it's only in hiding. This song is one of the most experimental tracks of the 90s and can rival anything on Mr. Bungle's Disco Volante. "Things Beyond Things" closes the album with a simple riff and wonderful vocals. The last seconds, however, will scare the pants off you (I was told what to expect and I nearly wet myself).

Ocean Machine is a fitting name for this project. The music flows along like water in the sea, occasionally building to crashing waves, then giving back to almost disturbing calm. Devin's production job is amazing; if he never played an instrument, he could still thrive in music as the Phil Spector of metal. He retains all of the sound of SYL but substitutes speed and fury for experimentation and sublime beauty. Devin manages to transcend easy categorization; he seamlessly blends art rock. prog metal, avant-prog, and psychedelic rock into a 74 minute opus that would set the stage for his later triumphs like Terria.While not as stunning as that masterpiece, Biomech is a must own for fans of Devin and it's a wonderful place to start for the uninitiated.

Grade: A-

1800iareyay | 5/5 |


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