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Devin Townsend - Order of Magnitude - Empath Live Volume 1 CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend


Experimental/Post Metal

4.20 | 11 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars I can still remember when I first heard 'Infinity' back in 1998: it just blew my mind and from there on I was a huge fan of Townsend and whatever project he was involved with. I vividly remember taking a carload of developers from Hayes to Bristol to see some depots and stores in operation, and blasting 'Physicist' at full volume both ways ? it was my car and I got to choose the music. One thing about Townsend is that he is so naturally curious and wanting to push boundaries that one is never sure quite what one is going to get, and the one time I saw him in concert as a bombastic over the top quartet I was somewhat disappointed. However, when it came to 'Retinal Circus' I was in awe and it is a concert I still love playing. Mind you, that was a special gig in many ways, with incredible musicians, a choir, backing tapes, loads of antics on stage, and the one and only Anneke van Giersbergen.

Fast forward to 2019, and he had decided he wanted to do something a little different and get rid of the backing tapes and click tracks and instead go naked into the night. Well, maybe not quite so lonely, as instead for this tour he surrounded himself with the right musicians to make it all work, which meant bringing on board some guys who he played with before, and others who were completely new. The band was guitarists Mike Kenneally (ex-Frank Zappa) and Markus Reuter (Stick Men, The Crimson Projekct), drummer Morgen Agren (Kaipa, Mats and Morgan, Frank Zappa), bassist Nathan Navarro, Haken keyboard player Diego Tejeida, and guitarist/vocalist Ché Aimee Dorval, as well as vocalists Samantha & Anne Preis & Arabella Packford. I do find myself missing the clear cut through vocals of Anneke, as the singers involved are not really up to her quality, but that is rather nit picking on my part, as here is a guy having an absolute blast, deliberately rearranging some songs so instead of metallic monsters they are quite different and come through as ballads, while we also get a straight version of "Disco Inferno" (I kid you not). I only have the audio (this has been released in multiple versions including Blu-ray), but can imagine the looks on the face of the audience. Utilising Markus Reuter is also inspired, as he can do so much more with a guitar than just provide normal notes, while Kenneally is also a legend and between them they can provide the heavy stuff or take the music in totally different directions.

Townsend is someone who never settles, and consequently is always exciting, and this album is yet another example of that. I may not return to it as often as 'Retinal Circus' as that is simply genius, but this is something I can see myself playing time and again. Wonderful.

kev rowland | 4/5 |


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