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

OCEAN MACHINE: BIOMECH

Devin Townsend

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.06 | 210 ratings

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LiquidEternity
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Devin Townsend has a terrifically solid history of solo albums, and they start with Ocean Machine: Biomech.

Here we find the main man of Strapping Young Lad dropping the explosively and violently angry act and picking up the threads of delicacy and melody. That is not to say, though, that this album doesn't have heavy or angry moments. Rather, this album reaches a wonderful balance, a creative flow that makes sense within itself. Each song fits into the whole, and almost every song stands well on its own (Sister and 3 AM being the exceptions to the latter). The sound on the whole is amazing, though not perfect. It's a nice foretaste of what the Mad Scientist of Metal will end up cooking in his solo works, and all you could want from the man is here.

Devin has an interesting idea of turning heavy riffs into rhythm to mellow music. Some might find that heavy and thick wall of sound to oppress the music, but to me it couldn't be more perfect. The band backing him up this time around is not featuring a drummer who can kick holes in Superman (contrary to his usual), so that lends a much more rock sound than a metal one. The wall of sound sometimes does not require guitars, though, and the point in case of that is the technical album clincher, The Death of Music. It's dense and powerful, built mostly around a simplistic computerized rhythm and lush tidal waves of synthesizers and keyboard.

The most fascinating and entertaining aspect of Devin, however, is his voice. On Strapping Young Lad albums, we find the man screaming and roaring and growling and making whatever else noises that you can call those things. On Ocean Machine, Devin drops the wild metal act almost entirely, depending on his underrated clean voice (one of my favorite voices in almost any genre). He does yell some, such as in Regulator, but it's very melodic. The aforementioned track The Death of Music happens to be built around some of his highest quality vocal parts ever recorded. The man sings like the entire world is dying around him, hurling his voice like a final embrace. The very quality of his performance here seems to make the title a paradox, as he proves that music is indeed not dead, and here's why.

But this album is much stronger than simply single songs. Instead, the flow and steadiness of this album add power to each successive track. Suddenly, the wall of sound is supporting some sort of oniric psychedelia, basing spacey sighs on steel girders. Hard to explain, I do suppose. Let's just say his music is almost entirely unique, his vocal harmonies spot on, and the musicianship just right. It's not perfect, and a few moments drop the ball somewhat. It's hard to hold that view, though, after listening to it, because the final four tracks or so are so expertly produced that it's hard to remember what exactly wasn't as amazing for you in the first place.

If you are a fan of metal looking for something with a bit more musical depth, a fan of lush and full music looking for something a bit heavier, or a fan of a songwriter who likes to stick a lot of personality and creativity into his music, look here. A good place to start with Devin and one of his strongest albums.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |

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