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


Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal

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5 stars Due to the warning message that comes out when you select the five stars rate...I tought..."Is this really a masterpiece...?"...and the answer is: It cant be any other way!! You´ll now it qhen you hear this...theres nothing like it. Its extremely genius. Devin Townsend blew me away with the ultra-heavy-killer SYL proyect, so I didnt now what to expect about this more soft(than SYL) and pop-rock-prog influenced metal album, because to me...this is still metal. I listened to it and it was obvious....Townsend had created a classic. Because of its excellent songwritting, amazing progression from SYL, the indcredible mixture of the metal and prog(mostly symphonic) rock wolrds, the futuristic ambients(hear seventh wave....its like being on a robotic sci-fi movie) and the never heard before and purely original style......because all of this I do consider this a masterpiece and my favorite Devin Townsend record, even tough they are all astounding. You have it all here starting from powerfull rock metal tracks passing from symphonic rock metal tracks to futuristic ambient progressive rock....and a beautiful mellow bonus track. A really fullfilling trip very enjoyable listen....really easy to listen complete every time...its a continuous record not a just bunch of tracks(like most records)...I recomend to hear this in one shot....lights off...just focus your mind into the music and let it another the future(to me at least). Impossible not to jump and evean headbanging on "regulator" and "Hide Nowhere", impossible not to dream and flote around on "Seventh Wave", impossible not to cry on "Thing beyond Things" and its impossible not to be completely blown away and taken to another world on the amazing trilogy of "funeral" , "bastard" and "the death of music". YOU MUST BUY THIS ALBUM!!!
Report this review (#18016)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The name speaks for itself. Yes, Devin Townsend's Ocean Machine explains what the album is. For a debut solo album, this release has the "maturity" of an album. The songs are great. The music is excellent. The compositions are perfect. It combines the high energy of metal and the psychedelic ambience a la Pink Floyd. Devin proves that he is a true multi- talented musician. As you heard him in latest the Ayreon project "Human Equation", he delivers something special in progressive metal universe. Ocean Machine opens with "Seventh Wave" which is clearly explain what the ocean is. You can feel nuance of a high tide there. Flowing, bringing you to another world. "Hide Nowhere" is another great track. The modern epic "The Death of Music" is another killer track which is clocking at 12 minutes. Overall, this is a very good debut album of Devin Townsend. A genius which is not too many people know about him. You must dig more of his music. To me, he is as genius as Daniel Gildenlow of Pain of Salvation. Ocean Machine is a great opener to enter the world of Devin Townsend. 4.5 stars actually!
Report this review (#18018)
Posted Friday, December 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Devin Townsend. A true "misfit" in the realm of progressive metal (and I doubt it was ever his aim to be lumped into the genre, either). Many seem to dislike his inclusion for the lack of technically appeasing guitar solos or any intricate instrumental work, in my opinion he very much creates something similar to Pink Floyd in that the depth of the music is created by layers of sound rather than technically flashy instrument work. Then there are those who realize that you don't NEED instrumental wankery to be progressive. This is Devin Townsend. Emotionally progresive metal, layered with spacey atmospheric guitars, a solid rhythm section, and symphonic synths. Oh, and he happens to have one of the most distinct and powerful voices in music, period.

Onto the album then. Ocean Machine (Biomech) is Devin's debut work as a solo artist, and many of his fans still claim it to be his masterpiece. Personally, i've found his later album "Terria" to be just a tiny bit better, but OM is probably his most complete and distinct album. It does alot, works on many levels, the most obvious being the conscious level of enjoyment. From the powerful opener Seventh Wave, to the catchy middle of the album that includes brilliant tracks like Life, Night, Hide Nowhere and Voices In The Fan, to a last half with three longer pieces (that represent the best songs of the album in my opinion), Funeral, Bastard and The Death Of Music, and finally a brilliant closer Thing Beyond Things. I wasn't disappointed with one track. The album sort of slows down between Sister and Greetings, but it's a very minor bump in the road. The Death Of Music will amaze almost anyone patient enough to look past the repetitive electric drum beat throughout, and the length (over 12 minutes). Devin gives one of the more powerful vocal performances i've ever heard.

If you haven't heard this album for whatever reason, and consider yourself of progressive music that goes heavy on emotion and doesn't neccesarily HAVE to amaze you technically, then I suggest you check it out ASAP. Nevermind Dev's other works until you've heard this, it's the perfect introduction to a very talented and intelligent artist.

Report this review (#18019)
Posted Tuesday, January 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars this album takes me somewhere, that is what a good album should do. it took me a while to see the brilliance behind this music - but honestly, it is more than just music. it is a feeling, a journey, another world. it is whatever you make it really.

Devin truly has hit home with me here. The only other album that takes me somewhere as much as this one does, is Clarity by Jimmy Eat World. Very different, huh?

Report this review (#18021)
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Out of the quetion that this is a great album, but as many debuts it suffers of slight defects and some compositions are a little bit ingenuous (Life, Night). Anyway HevyDevy Townsend gives us also some examples of brilliant genius (Funeral, Bastard). For everyone that have never listen to a Devin Townsend album i recommend Terria and if you like it you will also enjoy this Ocean Machine...a really good album!
Report this review (#18023)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars WTF. Every time I've bought a DTB album, I've come in saying it can't possibly beat the one I had heard previously. First AE...I was blown away...Terria couldn't beat it, could it? Well, it did. Then this, could it beat Terria?, not quite, and Infinity didn't beat it either, but both of these albums are so close to perfection (perfection being Terria) it's astonishing. Devin Townsend is one of the musical geniuses of our time, right up with Mikael Akerfeldt, Steve Wilson, Daniel Gildenlow, and Robert Fripp (who still kicks ass).

This album is different from the rest of his though...the wall of sound isn't quite as prominent on this one. Instead, we get some of the goddamn best melodies and songwriting I've ever seen in my life...only a couple songs off AE (Storm, Deadhead, Suicide) beat anything off this album in terms of melody and songwriting. It also is the experience of any of his albums. I mean, Infinity feels like an amazing acid trip, and Terria feels like you're wandering through golden plains of joy and happiness. But this's truly like another world. Songs like The Death of Music, Regulator, Voices in the Fan, Bastard, 3 AM, and Seventh Wave let you drift off into another fascinating world. You feel like you are being guided by a tour person through the world of music. I can't describe it...just like I can't describe what happens when I put in any other of Devy's albums. It's just amazing.

We kick off the album with Seventh Wave, which has a great opening riff. This song just kicks major amounts of ass in all ways. Vocals are only ok by Devin's standards, which are ridiculously high. The next song is Life, which is by far and large the happiest and most infectingly catchy song ever written by Devin. It's got an amazing chorus and great high- spirited singing. I love listening to this song on a bad day, it helps me cheer up. Night is a pretty solid song, but not up to par with the last two songs. I definitely enjoy the song, however, and never skip it.

Hide Nowhere also has an amazing melody throughout it, and this if just a fun song to listen to. Sister is a stranger's very mellow and laid back, but doesn't really go anywhere. That's ok, we needed a break in between the amazingness. 3 AM is a fairly strange one too, mostly a surreal little trip focusing on subtle sounds and samples much like Terria. Voices in the Fan comes back to the way of the first four songs with an infectuous chorus and great riffing throughout. Greetings is an upbeat happy little song that continues in the trend of the other songs on the album. I like it.

Regulator is another crazy good track with some excellent singing by Devy. The chorus is great and has some awesome keyboard works. Plus, I love the yells by Devy in the beginning. Funeral begins the set of longer tracks on the's pretty laid back and relaxing. I like this song because it's just great to zone out to. Bastard is the second long song, and the second longest on the album. It's pretty epic, although it doesn't drastically change throughout. It's just got really good riffing, good drumming, and a solid vocal performance. I guess you could say this is basically a preview of AE.

If I told you a 12 minute song with a fixed electronic drum beat that never changes with little...possibly even NO guitar was an excellent track, would you believe me? Of course not. Yet somehow The Death of Music is one of the best tracks in the album. Just lay down on the bed or at night or something and put this track'll be a crazy trip. This song is also one of Devin's best vocal performances EVER, possibly the best. The song sounds kind of faded, like the music is...well, dying. This track is by far one of the most daring and original tracks I've heard in years.

The final track is Things Beyond Things, and I have little to say besides that it is extremely beautiful and the last...uhmm, 14 seconds are quite interesting.

So that's it. This man...can do no wrong. Every track on here is surreal, every one infectuous, every one with excellent vocal performances and keyboards and samples and trippiness and ambience and guitar work and songwriting and coherence and DAMMIT! This is such a good album...ANOTHER amazing album from Devin Townsend. Please, keep making albums.

In conclusion, the straight forward rockers on this song (well...not straight all, but you know what I mean) are excellent, while the softer stuff, while usually excellent ,sometimes is bad.

Musicianship - 10/10 Originality - 10/10 Lasting Appeal - 9/10 Variety - 8/10 Metal sections - 9/10 Light sections - 7/10 Seventh Wave - 9/10 Life - 10/10 Night - 8/10 Hide Nowhere - 9.5/10 3 A.M. - 6/10 Voices in the Fan - 10/10 Greetings - 8/10 Regulator - 10/10 Funeral - 9/10 Bastard - 9/10 The Death of Music - 10/10 Things Beyond Things - 7/10

Math: 157.5 / 18 = 8.75 = 4.375 = 4.4 Final Score: 4.4/5 Almost a must-have. I perfectly agree with the outcome of my scores, and I did it naturally, so yay.

Report this review (#53241)
Posted Monday, October 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars What an excelent album. I dont know where i heard of townsend, probably this site, but i downloaded the preview songs Hide nowhere and War anyway. Blown away. kinda. it took a while for it to sink in and when it finaly did, those 2 songs topped my playlist. so , where carrowsing borders i noticed an album by a hard-to-come-by artist, i picked it up. Ocean Machine: BIomech. This disc turned out to be one of my favorites, beating out Cds by bands like Dream Theater, symphony X and Pink Floyd. i was very suprised. it is a very very well put together album that, like my fellow reviewer above, takes me somewhere.

and now to begin with the review. Seventh Wave: opens the album nicely with a great riff and a great vocals by townsend. quickly become one of my favorites here. the melody is very moving and the chorus, like ive said, takes me somewhere.

Life: a bit to peppy for me, but a good song non the less. very pop-esque and that threw me off. The song flows and i hardly skip this one. hardly...

Night: I dont know what the other reviewers saw in this song that was bad... its a song that makes me close my eyes and go ahhhhh. i ALWAYS sing along and its like coming down off a high when the song ends... Its moving, brillient and beautifull.

Hide Nowhere: a GREAT song, like i said the first Devin Towsend song i ever heard. hooked me right away. great guitar and excelent mellody.

Sister: too slow, sounds like filler, but not entirly bad. its pretty good filler.

3AM more filler, but not a horendous intro into voices in the fan.

Voices in the Fan: the shouted vocals throughout dont do much for me, but the interesting sound of the song and the geat vocals (other than the shouting) work. Very nice.

Greetings: pretty cool guitar work in the begining. not fancy or anything, just cool. the song flows execelently and is fairly decent, but short.

Regulator: Heavy Heavy, very crunchy , but very very nice as well. vocals are top notch, and the song sounds amazing. one of my favorites.

Funeral: good song in all, not my favorite, but prety good. too long however, but the moving from softer parts to heavier parts is very nice.

Bastard: here it is, my favorite song on the disc. Beautiful, very relaxing, melodic and heavy as well. devin townsend at his best. lyrics are interesting and the song itself is very moving.

the Death of Music: Slow at the beginning with an electronic beat, but picks up later. suprisingly one of the better songs found here, in fact its VERY VERY good (opinion slipped a little as im listening to it now)

Things Beyond Things: very beutiful and excelently executed. ummm.. the uhhh end is... uh... interesting? Scarred the CRAP out of me when ifirst heard it but now its quite funny.

FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF AND DISCOVER THE GENIOUS THAT IS DEVIN TOWNSEND BY BUYING THIS INCREDIBLE ALBUM!!! overall 4.4 stars due to filler and slow sections being too slow only. everything else is superb. 3 thumbs up


Report this review (#56475)
Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars I think this is a very good poing of entry in the Devin's career for the first listeners... Maybe not his best, but it's a very good example of what he's able to do, and a very accesible work.

In the beginning of the Devin Townsend career, he had very different projects... Strapping Young Lad was not a band yet, but with the outcome of "City" this thing changed. He had just made another side project called Punky Bruster. And Ocean Machine was born not like his solo career, it was bor like another new band, a new project. This band/project was called Ocean Machine, and the album was called "Biomech". His second project was called Infinity, but not with his name. Only "Infinity". But when he signed with Inside Out, he adopted his own name for this two re-released albums: Devin Townsend "Ocean Machine: Biomech", and Devin Townsend "Infinity".

For all taht, I think we can't say that Ocean Machine is the first solo album by Devin Townsend, because before of it came "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing" by SYL and the project Punky Bruster, two albums that were made almost completely by Devin.

But I think it's the first Devin's album when he started to developing his very own style. Here we can hear a very good advance of the great things to come. Pop- Metal songs with a lot of feeling like Life (with a great chorus), Night (a very catchy song, a little more in the 80's heavy way), Voices in The Fan and Funeral (the best singing of the album, I think). And we also have the strong progressive songs with a lot of capacity to evoke magic and powerful feelings like Seveth Wave (good song for open an album), Hide Nowhere (great vocal choirs, a Devin's trademark), Greetings (I love the guitar opening) and Bastard (the ending is just great). But we also have some examples of the Devin's love to the atmosferic and ambient tracks, but little inmature yet, like Sister (a song with a kind of link with "Terria") and 3AM, two songs that don't do very much for me. Nevertheless, The Death Of Music is just great, with different passages and a incredible vocal work by Devin. Finally, I think that the only "real" metal example of the album is Regulator, a fantastic song with powerful riffing with a little relation with the Strapping Young Lad sound.

So this is a fantastic album, but not a masterpiece in my opinion, because some ideas are still a little inmature, and the production isn't also very good. This album was mastered and completed in Spain, my country. But I think the production is weak sometimes, with a sound not very clear in some passages, and I miss power in the drums and bass too. But at least it's still sounding good and modern today, 9 years after the release of the album.

Conclusion: a fantastic album, very enjoyable by prog lovers, but I think that metal heads will also find very good things here, although nothing in comparision with the Strapping Young Lad's offering or others Devin's solo albums...

Report this review (#69934)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Devin Townsend has made a name for himself through various projects, from his role as vocalist with guitar virtuoso Steve Vai to the scathing intensity of his most well known Strapping Young Lad project, as well as his solo experiments such as Infinity and Physicist. Ocean Machine is yet another Townsend project, and Biomech is quite different from his past musical endeavors. The album's concept is based around music as if it were made by the ocean, and musically, this is achieved through a highly melodic, yet heavy, rock/metal format enveloped by a wide range of emotions both atmospheric and personal. The sound is huge, vast and powerful (courtesy of Devin himself), and allows the music to make its impact sonically, as well as in terms of songcraft and conviction. Heavily layered and richly textured, Biomech flows from beginning to end, no silence between songs, acting as one long musical journey that could serve as the soundtrack to someone's life. This "someone" could be Devin, or it could be you, or me, or anyone who has gone through the highs and lows, the joys and sorrows of earthly existence. And it's within this album that the listener is overcome with various emotions, whether it's happiness, sadness, or anger, making it seemingly impossible to experience Ocean Machine and not be effected in some way.

Devin is accompanied by a rhythm section of Jr. Harder on bass and Marty Chapman on drums to lay the foundation for his ideas. Devin is one of few guitarists who can make his instrument scream in rage and cry in sorrow with such conviction, not to mention his amazing vocal abilities, which like his guitarwork, can also express intense emotions both enraged and serene. When taking into consideration the level of songwriting and musical vision displayed throughout this album, not to mention his other musical embellishments, it is clear to even the most inept of music audiences that this man is nothing short of a musical genius.

A work of this magnitude is impossible to describe with mere words, but songs like "Life", "Hide Nowhere" and "Voices In The Fan" speak for themselves. All are carried by infectious choruses and melodic wonder, much like the entirety of the album. The songs are mostly based on rock structures, but "Sister" and "3 A.M." are short soundscape pieces drenched in atmosphere and Devin's emotional vocals. Another such piece is "The Death Of Music", an over 10 minute expression of chilling atmospherics and passionate vocals complete with rise-and-fall dynamics, taking the listener on an introspective trip through the mind and soul. "Regulator" is one of the album's highlights, carried by a pounding rhythm and crushing riff, with Devin's screaming working perfectly in tandem. "Night" is an uptempo rocker bringing to mind images of racing through the nighttime city streets, easily the most unrestrained track on the album. The centerpiece of the album for me, however, is the back to back tracks, "Funeral" and "Bastard". "Funeral" is a beautiful work of atmosphere and emotion, ballad-like in its structure and expression so convincing it leaves goose bumps on the skin. The track fades into "Bastard", which is carried by an astoundingly huge riff. A vast, spacious riff laid over a slow and steady tempo that is so powerful, so magical that it sweeps you right off your feet and takes you into the heights of musical nirvana. This is the apex of not only Biomech, but of Townsend's entire discography. Quite simply, an amazing song.

Biomech is a musical work the likes of which should be hailed by many and put on the same pedestal as masterworks from Pink Floyd, The Beatles or any of the other classic rock albums of the past. But of course, it won't. Even within the metal underground, which is where the direct audiences for Devin's work reside, Ocean Machine is relatively an unknown or underappreciated proposition. There remains very few true musicians who possess this kind of vision and craftsmanship, and even fewer albums that offer this much in terms of sonic and emotional gratification.

Report this review (#86109)
Posted Monday, August 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
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-

Report this review (#118072)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Strapping Young Lad's guitarist leader embarked on a solo career with the enigmatic "Ocean Machine", an album of encompassing, thrilling atmospheres in which pop, metal, progressive metal, trash and nuances of electronic blended together in a very balanced way. This atmosphere somewhat recreated the best from the 80's decade: from the mainstream heavy metal scene to the dark atmospheres of The Cure or the frantic energy of Queen. To his virtuous and somewhat prolific guitar work in the vein of Steve Vai or Joe Satriani, Devin Towsend added his inspired gift for creating remarkable melodies and outstanding choruses, while his dynamic voice and obtuse lyrics gave the album the necessary melodic profoundness.

The album evolutes in a very fluent way, from the compellingly ambiance of the four first tracks, the peace/turbulence of the middle tracks, to end in the dark "Bastard" and the epic "The Death of Music", in which the background simple electronic drum creates a psychic pattern permitting the growth of a crescendo disturbingly intense manifest.

While not making at all a music revolution, Devin Townsend manage to create a unique blend of styles which would create an impressive cult scene among the metal fan base.

Report this review (#120654)
Posted Thursday, May 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Devin's first album hasn't received nearly the kind of play on this forum that it probably deserves. In my opinion, OCEAN MACHINE - BIOMECH is a sneaky and overlooked gem. Sure, it doesn't boast the type of full-on grandeur of SYNCHESTRA or the beautiful coherence of TERRIA, but this album is certainly great in its own right. While the overall flow may seem a bit patchier than some of his later releases, it seems as if this may have been intentional and for this reason doesn't take that much away from the final product. I agree with other reviewers who have argued that this album takes the listener on a journey through the many different stages of life with all of their triumphs, failures, and beauty. Through his meticulously created soundscapes, Devin expresses anger, depression, love, nihilism, and forward-looking optimism. And as we would come to expect from Townsend, the music here hardly ever falls short of amazing. "Seventh Wave" opens up the album with a kicking riff that pops with energy when the bass and drums come in to drive the song home, "Sister" takes the listener on a short but dreamy reprieve backed by distorted acoustic guitar and weather sounds, "Voices in the Fan" sets up a nostalgic moonlit soundscape, and "Funeral" layers one flawless sound over another, creating a soft background not unlike rain to provide a gorgeous irony behind the screaming yet still beautiful words of our mourner as he cries to the sky, "A world away, you turn away. I'm wide awake, and I don't need your home."

In the end, OCEAN MACHINE - BIOMECH is an incredible accomplishment as a debut album. There are times when we can hear Devin's musical immaturity here, but it is hard to come by and years ahead of its time anyway. I would have liked for Devin to have used more undistorted vocals here as he's proven himself to have one of the best voices in rock, but perhaps he wasn't comfortable enough at this point to put his voice up front. Regardless, this is an excellent album for almost any mood, and I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates great heartfelt rock music.

Report this review (#131949)
Posted Sunday, August 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars Like everything DT has ever worked on, "Ocean Machine" is very good; however, it is undeniably inconsistent when compared to his later releases, lacking a certain power which usually strikes the listener early on even during its first play through. "Ocean Machine" will impress, but not until it takes a while to sink in, and even then it won't make as big an impact as "Terria", "Synchestra", etc. I suppose one could say that it must be taken more as a whole, rather than by specific highlights, but the forward momentum of the album, as well as its lack of energy or dynamism, make it a somewhat bland affair. I recommend this highly to fans who have already discovered DT through his stronger albums though, who will still find a lot to enjoy here.

Songwriting 3 Instrumental Performances 3 Lyrics/Vocals 3 Style/Emotion/Replay 3

Report this review (#137921)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Wonderful in its own way, this is only the start for Townsend. Seventh wave, Hide nowhere, and Regulator all show the promise that he was later to fulfil, but this album is weakened by the last three songs being overlong, taking up twenty minutes of the album without accomplishing too much. Not for an introduction to Townsend: for that I would recommend either Terria or AE. For fans of ZTO, Voices in the fan is referenced in Colour your world, by the way.
Report this review (#155700)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I´ve been a fan of Devin Townsend since his collaboration with Steve Vai on the Sex & Religion album. The first time I heard Devin sing I knew he was something special. I have followed his career ever since. I´m a big fan of his work with Strapping Young Lad and I absolutely love his latest album Ziltoid the Omniscient. I have never been a big fan of his solo albums though, but I have started to listen to them again from start to see If I was wrong the first time round.

Ocean Machine is an album full of heavy metal tunes with full symphonic keyboard backup and of course Devin´s diverse singing on top. Anyone who has heard Devin´s work knows what I mean when I say full symphonic keyboard backup. Devin ( yes he also produces his own ( and other band´s) albums) has made it his trademark to slap you in the face with a symphonic wall of sound which also includes the extensive use of samples. It´s actually a very ambient sound. I can´t think of any other band that sounds more innovative in the heavy metal world than Devin. The man is always on the forefront of new things.

This debut solo album from Devin is actually very nice and listenable far from his more aggressive outbursts in Strapping Young Lad. There are some really beautiful moments on the album, but I do get a little tired towards the end. It´s a very long album and I don´t think the songs are especially memorable which means the songs blend together. This is of course negative and the reason why I will only give the album 3 stars. I miss variation, so I can remember the songs better.

The sound quality is extremely good as on every album Devin Townsend has produced, the man is a genious behind the mixing pult.

All in all this is a very nice start to his solo career even though it´s not excellent in my book.

Report this review (#159368)
Posted Sunday, January 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#184307)
Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (the scream at the end)

What? We can't all quote something poetic and befitting the album in question, can we? what about an instrumental album, would you quote guitar tabs? I thought not.

This album is the first solo release from Devin Townsend. It is a very ocean feeling album (if said ocean had Gatling guns and depth charges interspersed throughout) It is heavy, and at times very liquid feeling. As always, the production is masterful, and I give Devin quite a lot of credit when it comes to production values.

The songs seem a bit more straightforward than later albums, and the extended pieces seem a bit less focused, but I'll be damned if he doesn't pack a punch with each song. This is most certainly progressive music, and it is most certainly metal. Not regular metal. Thick and crunchy, heavy and wall of sound metal. The first track and Regulator being prime examples, with the latter encroaching upon the realms of outright death metal intensity.

There are also watery laid back moments that are spread through the album. And tracks like Sister add so much to the overall feel of the album. This thrives on atmosphere, and even if the songs aren't perfect by themselves, together they make up a masterful product. This is usually the case for Devin Townsend albums.

Some of the songs are almost pop metal, such as Life and Night. Others are extended suites of heavy progressive metal, like Bastard. And death of Music is experimental (with what seems to be an African drum beat?), but all of the songs are enjoyable. Nothing here offends, more so, everything here is delightful. Although I wasn't blown away on the first listen by a few songs, the entire work is high quality. Townsend is able to layer and mesh music together so vividly, that the songs could be utterly weak, and he could rise them up. The production and layered composition of this album alone, make it a joy. The album ends with a somewhat calmer song than the rest of the album, and I love it. (up until that terrifying scream, which caught me off guard).

Some of the songs aren't so progressive, though, and the last songs songs tend to go on for a bit longer than I would have liked, but a worthy addition to anyone's collection, and absolutely essential to fans of Devin Townsend. Four Stars.

Report this review (#212251)
Posted Friday, April 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gorgeous, Brilliant, Perfect.....I guess I like it

Devin Townsend is a once in a generation talent and the fact that he's my generation only enhances my love of his work. I'm sure the fact that he grew up with the same backdrop of musical culture contributes to the fact that his music really connects with me. Or perhaps it's just that good. When I put on the earphones and listen to Ocean Machine, I get lost in another world. The beautiful thing is the music is actually uplifting, energizing, and colorful. So much of the post metal scene is cold, depressed, or angry. Though Devy certainly taps on those emotions, his music never seems depressing. It's full of energy, invigorating.

Ocean Machine, I believe, was the first time Devy created the (relatively) softer, multi-layered, semi- ambient sound that now has become his trademark. His modally tuned guitar was already heard on Strapping Young Lad, but the fully range of tone color really wasn't expressed until this project. Townsend worked on this for some time, writing some of the material as far back as his stint with Steve Vai. The result is nearly flawless, and the few tripups are minor at worst (The nasty surprise at the end, the ambient effects being just a little too loud on "Sister", etc.).

The songs flow seamlessly one to another, despite running from aggressive metal to pure ambient keys to near a cappella voice to pop. The pop is usually what loses my interest on Devy albums, but here the instrumentation is so good (like the back beat riff on "Life") that the major melodicism doesn't bother me. The flow and sequencing is phenomenal, the entire album seeming like a continuous experience. The songs are still distinct, with varied feels in the guitar, vocal tonalities, and use of keys.

This has been a review I've put off a long time, because I don't have much to say other than "It's awesome." The later Terria has better production, hit higher highs of brilliance, but doesn't flow as perfectly start to finish. This is the one to lose yourself in, eyes closed, laying back with good headphones. It's just beautiful metal-based art music, a masterpiece.

Report this review (#212749)
Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Devin Townsend is a musical genius in every sense of the word as far as I'm concerned. I've never heard anyone else in the metal world be able to make music that's so heavy but also so atmospheric. And I also love the spacey effect that he manages to bring in as well. Be it Strapping Young Lad, The Devin Townsend Band, or his solo work, Heavy Devy always brings so much creativity and life into his work. I could probably recommend at least one of his albums to every type of music fan out there. He's really got a wide variety of music out there.

Alright, now that I'm done gushing over him, let's take a look at his first solo album. Townsend released this after the first two Strapping Young Lad albums and the Cooked on Phonics album were already under his belt. The music is very serene and atmospheric, almost like the cover suggests, except with lots of heaviness and crunchy riffs added here and there. Although there is a good mix of songs present on OM - B. On one hand, you have riff-driven songs like the opener, "Seventh Wave", and then the next moment you have the pop-metal (if there was such a term) presented in "Life". Throw in a few epics at the end of the album in "Bastard" and "The Death of Music" and you've got an album that's as experimental as progressive metal and Devy can bring but diversified in style.

There are only two things that keep me from calling this album a masterpiece. The first is that I wish the songs "Sister", "3 A.M.", and "Greetings" hadn't been so close to each other on the album. Each of the 3 songs is short enough that they feel more like long transitions than actual songs to me. The second is that the epics feel like they take too long to build for me, and I think Townsend went on to make better longer songs later in his career. For some reason my mind tends to wander on both the songs sometimes, especially on the intro for "The Death of Music". But all in all, this is a fantastic record by Townsend. Although everything I've heard from him so far sounds amazing to me. 4 stars for a fantastic solo debut. I'd recommend this to those who like their metal to have a lot of personality, depth, and creativity to it. This is a good place to start with the solo career of Devin Townsend.

Report this review (#222222)
Posted Sunday, June 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is a difficult album to write about really, I don't have any reference points to offer you either. It starts off with four tracks that are powerful, energetic, melodic and catchy, then we get flooded with samples, atmosphere and emotion the rest of the way. Yes we still get these heavy, powerful tunes but the mood has changed. In fact from that fifth track ("Sister") to the final song "The Death Of Music" it's pretty much perfect. I can't get over the production on this album either and the layers of sound, this is so epic. Many of these tracks seem to blend into one another as well which is cool.

"Seventh Wave" opens with someone quoting a poem then some heavy guitar kicks in which turns even heavier as the sound gets fuller.The tempo picks up up then the vocals join in. Hell yeah ! The tempo continues to shift. Great sound 5 minutes in and I like the atmosphere to end it. Excellent track. "Life" is the only ordinary track on here in my opinion. I know many who list this as their favourite but it's too commercial sounding and upbeat. Still a good song though and I understand how it fits in. "Night" opens with guitar as a full sound kicks in quickly and the tempo picks up. Vocals join in. This rocks out pretty good. "Hide Nowhere" is nice and heavy with a few screams from Devin. "Sister" is interesting as we get this noisy atmosphere with voices and other sounds as Devin comes in barely singing "Sister" as he strums his guitar.Thunder and crickets late. "3 AM" sounds like the start of a FLOYD track with the voices and atmosphere as spoken vocals come in. Emotion. "Voices In The Fan" has a catchy mid paced rhythm as the vocals join in with some passion. This is so good. A calm after 3 minutes then these operatic female and male vocals come in.

"Greetings" is guitar led as vocals join in. It turns more powerful. Nice. These last four tracks are freaking amazing. "Regulator" is heavy duty and vocals come in around a minute. Love how he screams "I'm regulated" again and again.The heaviest track on here. "Funeral" kicks in around a minute and the vocals come in after 2 minutes. I adore this song. Gulp. Nature sounds 6 minutes in as it settles. It turns powerful again. "Bastard" opens with atmosphere and percussion.This is a mechanical beast. Incredible ! "The Death Of Music" is more Electronic than Metal. A beat with atmosphere and sampled voices. Vocals after 2 minutes. Atmosphere and whispered vocals a minute later and they will come and go. So much tension when the vocals return. It's haunting at times as well. This has to be heard to be appreciated. The bonus track "Thing Beyond Things" is a nice addition. A laid back but powerful song.

I have to thank Negoba for convincing me to check this out. I feel like I should have listened more before reviewing this album because the further the album plays out the deeper it gets.Yeah, just like an ocean. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#359912)
Posted Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Devin Townsend has gained quite a lot of notoriety, both for his acclaimed solo career and for his work with his extreme metal band, Strapping Young Lad. This, his debut solo effort, was originally released under the name "Ocean Machine", with Biomech being the album name. It has since been integrated into his solo material proper, and now goes by the name "Ocean Machine: Biomech".

I am not very familiar with SYL, although what I heard sounded a bit too extreme for me at the time (which was about six years ago, so that might have changed by now). But the first time I ever heard a song by Devin Townsend, it blew me away so quickly I almost got whiplash. That song was Ants, off of Infinity, which for a long time was the only record by Devin Townsend I had heard.

In fact, I was somewhat afraid to explore his music too much further, afraid that the set of ingredients that made Infinity such a great album would never be duplicated. Eventually I did start collecting more of his music, and Ocean Machine is so far the best thing I have heard by the man since. That being said, it is also a very different beast than Infinity, and it is just as enjoyable as that album.

The music here is a lot more song oriented than Infinity, and the wall of sound that Devin uses in a lot of his work is for the most part missing. And what this reveals is an artist who can be expressive in many different ways, who has incredible song writing skills on top of the fact that he is quite a talented guitarist. In fact, Devin has quite an ear for perfection and recorded this album twice because he was not satisfied with it the first time. As a fan, I must say that it seems to have paid off - the music here sounds great!

It is a somewhat accessible album, with catchy riffs, sing-along choruses, something that must have confused quite a few fans of Strapping Young Lad at the time it was released. Although the metal exists here, it is not particularly extreme.

Devin also puts in an abundance of emotional, particularly towards the last section of the album, from Funeral forward. The Death of the Music is the absolute killer in this aspect (barring the random driving-range-in-the- sky bit at the end). I acquired this album shortly after finding out that Katie, my pet cat's surgery did not take, and that her cancer was likely going to kill her in the very near future. This was at a time in my life where a lot of other things had gone wrong and Katie was one of the few good things in my life that was left. I had lived with her since I was seven and she had been with me for a lot, so you can imagine how much that news effected me. The Death of the Music just seemed to express the way I felt perfectly ... there was a serenity to it but also a fragility and a fear, even a bit of selfishness (because it was evident at that point Katie was suffering, so I knew death would be release for her, it was more for myself that I was sorry she was dying).

"Don't die on me, Don't go away When I need you here In my need"

So simple, so effective, on top of it all this track shows that Devin also has a really good way with words.

Anyways, back to the album, this is definitely one of the better Devin albums I have heard thus far and a recommended addition to any collector of metal music, progressive music, or really rock music in general.

Report this review (#463124)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Biomech was originally credited to Ocean Machine, a moniker for Devin Townsend's solo projects before he just applied his own name to them. Whatever name is applied to it, it's an intriguing brand of metal which unlike many prog metal releases focuses not on references to prog bands of the past but rather concentrates on presenting this light, shimmering wall of guitar which reminds me at points of the work of shoegaze bands such as My Bloody Valentine. Personally, I find the album gets a bit wearing after the first few minutes and lacks the variation or wit of later works by Townsend, but it's an interesting enough listen and by no means an embarrassing start to a solo career.
Report this review (#627493)
Posted Monday, February 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Frank Zappa of metal.

Devin Townsend is a genius. A genius! I think I have not gotten over the shock of hearing this album called Ocean Machine: Biomech, and I think he is the best thing I've heard in recent times, along with the debut of Hemin. Throughout its more than 70 minutes this album is an intense and powerful journey where we are introduced to one of the most brilliant and fertile minds of the metal in recent years.

The style? Progressive and industrial metal, with a touch of ambient and experimental music. While Ocean Machine presents a more straightforward style than their successors (where Devin will explore more elements to his music) he gives us a clear idea of the intentions of this guy. The introduction spoken Seventh Wave is just to distract the listener before the music explodes in your ears. The guitar is aggressive and strong and, perhaps, the main driver of the entire album (with the exception of ambient songs), and that is noticed from the first track.

The next song is Life, one of my favorites! I think because this is a very simple song, the kind that could be released as a single (and my love for her was increased after I quickly learned to play it on drums). Night is very dark, but not equal to the previous ones, although they are still a good song - beyond the interesting fact that Devin begins to show his extensive vocal range here (but not, it still does not scream like crazy). Hide Nowhere continues the sound explored, and is another great song in the style of the first two. It leads nicely into Sister, where the style of the album changes dramatically for the music - I mean, I love it, the way he sings "sister ..."! 3 AM follows the ideas of its predecessor, this time more calm, almost like a lullaby.

Voices in the Fan returns to the metal, and not wanting. But my favorite part is when the song ends there for his three minutes and another one begins where we hear a beautiful Gregorian choir. Greetings is another short song, like Sister and 3 AM, but rather continues in the "metal" vein, as well as the dark Regulator, where Devin again shows the power of his voice.

The next three songs are the longest: Funeral takes to engage, but as it grows so wonderful - I really love the vocals accompanied by a good low ... the song is long (8 minutes), and there are many variations in structure that make it a genuine example of a prog song (if there is a definition for this type of music genre so diverse), but it is precisely its simplicity what makes it so appealing to me. Bastard is another return to the metal, and unforgiving, and very, very heavy. Like Funeral and the next song, she does not have many changes of time and things like that - I think this is not a feature of Devin, at least not on this album - but it is powerful and I too captiving.

Now for my favorite song: The Death of Music. I guess nobody was expecting it - a 12- minute song composed of several lines, some sections and extensive vocal and simplistic, and more intriguing: a ubiquitous drum machine followed by a single bass line! It is the experimental side of Devin getting louder. And most shocking and seemingly boring that may appear is certainly the best this album. I dunno, I have a soft spot for songs such ambient. The album ends with Things Beyond Things, a very simple song (verse-chorus- verse-chorus), but ends with the cry craziest I've ever heard! As a human being on earth can scream like that? Only Devin Townsend yourself!

Thus, I conclude my thoughts on iff album. It is a masterpiece, do not doubt it a bit, and I'm excited because it is only the gateway to the wonderful world of genius that is Devin Townsend. 5 stars!

Report this review (#773440)
Posted Monday, June 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now for a slight history lesson. After the major success Devin had with Strapping Young Lad, releasing "City", which even to this day, is still considered one of the greatest metal albums ever made. Because Strapping Young Lad was pretty much a joke band and really wasn't what Devin wanted musically to be doing.

So...he set up his own record label and decided to release this album. Now, sometimes this is under the band name 'Ocean Machine' and the album is called 'Biomech', but really...this is his first solo effort.

Now musically, this is a very different affair to anything Strapping Young Lad were doing at the time, and fans reacted rather gingerly towards this album. But this album has aged very well, and has pretty much stood the test of time. If you haven't heard any of Devins music before, especially his solo stuff, this album pretty much is the genesis of his trademark sound. Mixing metal with a whole load of different genres, including ambient, electronic music and progressive rock, it is a rather beautiful affair.

The only real negatives I have with this album would be the production of the vocals. Devin is one of the best vocalists out there in the music world today and really needs his vocals to be a striking highlight. On this album, they move rather fluidly with the music, which I do respect to a degree, but I do usually prefer his vocals to be heard a lot more. And, due to it being rather self funded, the artwork on this album can look rather like clip art at times.

The opening track "Seventh Wave" is a brilliant intro. With a great build up at the start and some rather odd melodies in the chorus, the song is a pretty big mammoth of a track.

The album's most popular or well known song would probably be "Life." In fact, this is a song that is usually played live still to this day by Devin. Definitly one of the catchiest songs Devin has ever written. An absolute brilliant composition with some beautiful moments throughout.

"Night" is a rather rocky and punky sounding song, and is probably more of a tribute to Devin's friends in The Wildhearts, who he was a touring member of for a brief period of time. One of the more less serious moments on the album.

One of my odd favourites on the album would probably have to be "Sister." Even though it is only really an interlude, the simplicity and the beauty of it really stands out.

The album's real headbanging moment comes in the form of "Regulator." A heavy mammoth of a song, it definitely is one of the strongest tracks on the album. It is also a rather catchy affair too.

"Bastard" is a rather epic moment, that would have closed the album off perfectly. The first part of the song has a lot of build ups with the last bit being a massive ambient meets metal explosion.

The last track "The Death Of Music" is more of an experimental piece and I think would have been more suited on an album like "Devlab." Although, this is a rather interesting piece. I do feel it is rather long, but it still packs quite a punch.

In conclusion, I can't find any real faults on this album. For a debut solo album, this is pretty spectacular. Some small production problems may arise, but other than that it's pretty awesome. This is the start of a long line of Devin's musical wonders. I recommend this album to any beginner, because this one really is a starting point, for Devin and for the fans.


Report this review (#1028985)
Posted Wednesday, September 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Besides a few songs from Terria, Ocean Machine was my first endeavor into the Bizarre World of Devin Townsend. This holds no bias though, as I honestly believe this debut is a masterpiece. I hold it higher than Terria, even. Recently, (a year back) I've become obsessed with the Mad Scientist of Metal, so in dedication to him, I thought I'd spread awareness about this contagion. This addiction. Why not start at the beginning?

After Sex & Religion's massive success (gold-status in Japan), Devin was recommended by his A&R rep to start his own label; get his name out. In return, he created the strange and eclectic Ocean Machine. Through the rage he displayed in Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing and City (a few months before), he created an album that channeled that anger, while at the same time entering a spacey scene.

Ocean Machine revolves around a cold, industrial tone. Think of Porcupine Tree's Stupid Dream, a bold move with some fans embracing the change, while others yearning for more of the same. Strapping Young Lad never interested me, so this was a WELCOMED change.

Throughout the album's course, I find it more 'Heavy Rock' rather than Metal. "Seventh Wave" starts us off with heavy guitars, kicking drums, and Devin's multitude of emotion shown through his vocals. His voice belts extended yells and the heavenly "Ahhhhh!!"

"Life" displays an alternative-friendly sound, "Who we are, what we are! I'll see you on the other side!" This in no way means this song is dull, or 'poppy', but it means it's extremely catchy.

"Night" features the tough side of Devin's vocals, anger-fueled and excited. Not for the light-hearted. There's a break in the chorus, a sense of relief as he says, "Falling down?" and that's repeated at the end, leaving you relieved.

"Hide Nowhere" is one of my favorites. Easily. Quick guitar riffs, plenty of cymbals. Then it leads up to a frenzy of Devin vocal layerings, reminiscent of Gentle Giant. Such a memorable track.

"Sister" is short, sweet, and (as most have stated already) a nice break from the fast-paced guitar-drum work. Calm guitar, icy keyboards, smooth vocals. Many disregard this track, but you need diversity in a metal album or it becomes tiring or annoying. Opeth does it right also, breaks in-between the dense, metal sound. If there wasn't, I probably couldn't listen to the album (Opeth and Townsend alike) in its entirety.

"3 A.M." continues on this path, where "Sister" left off. Again, great keyboard work calmer than "Sister" even. This leads up to "Voices In The Fan," opening with heavier riffs and Devin's signature yelling. This all follows a steady beat, every word stated clearly to add emphasis, which makes it catchy and powerful. Ends peacefully; a moment of silence, and a choir comes in.

"Greetings" has a build-up of magnificent proportions in its short length. "Regulator" is a complex, punchy (while still being spacey) song with a drum beat pausing between each beat. Nearly impossible to not headbang, just try to contain a slight head-nod. Rough vocals, rough guitar, and occasional keyboard-backing.

"Funeral" starts off reminding me of OK Computer, a silky, electronic-induced keyboard. Following with a mellow, steady guitar riff, soaring vocals. May take some time for first-timers of this album, could seem too slow to them. Soon, you'll learn to love the totality of its 8-minute length. The last minute features a Gilmour-like guitar, a perfect ending.

"Bastard" goes through various tempos, various emotions of Devin's voice, perhaps the most passionate display of his vocal-work. It's mainly based around his lyrics and his voice setting the mood, like Van der Graaf.

Last but not least, and let's make this clear: CERTAINLY not least, is "The Death of Music." A haunting track consisting of (what sounds like) sound clips of conversations. Over this, is Devin's strained voice: "And things I am, are things that should not be." This builds to a grandeur of keyboards, airy guitars, and that same programmed drum beat throughout. That rattle. Then, in a moment of seeming clarity, he sings (in an almost operatic-fashion): "It's like a death!! Becomes musical, musical..." The laughing and conversations continue again, little jokes like, "F**k you, okay, eh?" and the programmed drums continue... It seems simple, or silly, but this'll stay with you forever. That same beat surrounding the song.

Townsend has stated on his website ( that he's "very proud of this album, and has a very obvious 'blue' feeling to me." Every album's unique in Devin's discography, though this'll always remain as one of my favorites. It changed the game for Devin, venturing further than just metal. The music had an atmosphere to it, and explored a whole new territory.

Report this review (#1175239)
Posted Thursday, May 15, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ocean machine is combination of hard rock, ambient, progressive and alternative sounds released under the moniker Biomech by Devin Townsend. Ocean machine is a very good album from start to finish.Devin's style of combining rock/metal with multilayered sound palletes for ambient noises is done with absolute perfection in this gem of an album. The writing is very good and Devin chose concepts like depression, death, isolation and life in general. Though the album contains different styles of music , its amazing how well it flows throughout.Also there are no virtuoso artists involved in the album, the composition of Devin Townsend carries the album on its shoulder. I consider Devin townsend to have a high degree of precision on his composition which is evident in this album.

Best moments on the album : The Death of Music (Devin at his absolute best combining operatic style vocals and a very thick layer of ambience in this experimental masterpiece) , Night( A great hard rock song with many changes throughout. The later part of the song especially is very good), Bastard (Over minutes of absolute head pounding start and a great shift in direction in the middle part), Life & Greetings : Devins' staple songs combining very catchy chorus, catchy licks but yet so well composed due to little details he adds in those songs) I also loved the change in direction the album took after completion of "Hide Nowhere" to "Sister" and "3 A.M." where the album changes to a very mellow atmosphere.

Weak points : Too many 'OK' filler moments.

All in all it is a great album and is essential to the listeners of experimental metal since it feels fresh even now.

Report this review (#1291724)
Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Devin Townsend's own counterpoint to his ferocious, metal-burlesque "City" record with Strapping Young Lad, "Ocean Machine," originally conceived as a band called Ocean Machines, morphed into what became Townsend's first definitive solo effort. It's true that Strapping Young Lad's "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing" was largely written and recorded by Townsend himself as a solo project, however the album felt like an angry diuresis of ideas following his short stint with Steve Vai, rather than a proper record. His "Cooked on Phonics" album under the moniker "Punky Bruster" is usually credited as the first DT solo album, but it was merely a booger, mockingly flicked at the burgeoning pop punk movement. "Ocean Machine," however, was the first exploration of the musical ideas that would come to define Townsend's varied and prolific solo career.

"Ocean Machine" comes at you with a wave of spiritual electric guitars and Devin's god-like layered vocals that run the gamut of emotions. "Regulator" is a standout heavy track that still manages to stun as an live opener to this day, while "Life" fills the space of the cheesy power ballad (Devin often jokes when he plays this song live that it has lamest guitar solo ever written). But it's the heartache at the heart of "Ocean Machine" that sticks with you, "Night" feels like a lonely car ride in a vibrant, neon cityscape, "Funeral" is filled with spiritual longing, and "The Death of Music," a suspect title if there ever was one, surprises with its air of regret. The final track, "Things Beyond Things," labeled a "bonus track," may actually be the most well realized tune on the album, and sonically reminded me somewhat of his obscure cover of Rush's "Natural Science."

Yet "Ocean Machine" has an unfortunate tendency to ramble with its songs, and the album lacks the cohesion that Gene Hoglan brought to Devin's subsequent solo records, prior to the demise of Strapping Young Lad. Drummers like Hoglan and Ryan Van Poederooyen enjoyed long, fruitful relationships with Townsend because they make magic together. Marty Chapman's drumming on "Ocean Machine," along with everyone else on the record, are swallowed up by Devin's mammoth production. "Seventh Wave" is an opener that shoots for cyclopean awe, but falls short, and the lenghty "Bastard" disappears from memory once it's gone.

Townsend wasn't pleased with how this personal effort was met with a shrug, while Strapping's "City," an over-the- top metal goof, was met with adulation and praise. This seemed to drive Townsend to refine his game, creating more sophisticated records with Hoglan as his muse from the "Ocean Machine" blueprint, which still informs his music to this day on albums like "Sky Blue." It also began his trend of actively fleeing in the face of success, ignoring Strapping Young Lad, his most successful project, until 2003, before pulling the plug on SYL entirely in 2007.

While it has some classic Devin cuts, "Ocean Machine" is an album for people who are digging deep into his sizable catalog to see where some of his best ideas came from. It's not a starting place for the new, and it will not interest the casual fan, but it is a worthy entry that shows an artist shedding the shields of humor and anger in an effort to find himself and his potential, in order to create something genuine and sincere.

Report this review (#1372145)
Posted Monday, February 23, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ok, so perhaps the sound, the quality, the speaking samples, and the artwork are a bit 90's, but still, even on his first album, Devin Townsend loved his reverb.

"Seventh Wave", the album's opener makes that loud and clear after a brief but poetic spoken monologue, and while the track isn't entirely busy or overwhelming like some of his later works, even here DT's composition has led to some memorable and even catchy lyrics, as "Life" is a brilliant example of. Hell, it's probably Townsend's catchiest song ever written.

But even by now, there is a major contrast from his first work and his later ones. 1) It is a bit serious, even though he's capable of being serious or not whenever he feels like it and 2) Although the reverb is present, I don't ever get that complete "Drowned out by an orchestra" feeling. Perhaps it's because of the 90's recording quality? Perhaps, but even though it's a slight niggle on the album itself, it doesn't diminish the compositions at all.

Perhaps the interesting thing, though, is that here on his first serious solo work, all these songs are perhaps his most accessible Townsend has ever made, and will forever be, since people who listen to DT's music now will know of that humorous background, that some people might not even take his music seriously sometimes anymore. I know I don't from time to time.

But because it might have been better to play it safe on his first solo album, all of these songs are happy melodies (charged by reverbed guitars, of course), and while they're very lovely song, great driving songs in fact, there is one flaw. Yes, he uses lots of vocal and speaking samples and recordings and dabbles in other electronic wizardry, but there is one thing that is severely lacking: variety.

Now, of course at this point I'd be a fool to call a Devin Townsend album "predictable", because none of them are, and never will be. However, on certain albums ("Terria", "Accelerated Evolution", "Ghost" come to mind, great as these albums are), the repetition factor can kick in fairly early and almost dull the excitement for the remainder of the album to come. After "Hide Nowhere", the album does take an interesting left turn to the ballad "Sister" as the music slows down and fades into "3 A.M." where even the guitars fade out to just Devin calmly singing over a seascape of noise, synths and samples, right before the album kicks into a happy groove again with "Voices In The Fan".

Even here, though, glimpses of DT's eccentricities shine through, particularly the choral spot at the end of "Fan", and even "Greetings" starts with sch an enthusiasm that very few of Townsend's songs have ever matched, despite its fairly short length. "Regulator" though is unusual, his heaviest song so far on this album, complete with a few screams. It's rather surprising there's any screaming on here at all, really, considering DT is still with Strapping Young Lad at this point, figuring he'd want a change of pace with his musical style, and of course it doesn't take long before "Funeral" sounds like the beginning of a mid 2000's indie rock song. Despite that, though, it's fairly mild compared to the rest of the album's offerings, and takes a break from the traditional synth-overloaded reverb-fest, definitely one of the softer sides of Townsend revealed, and one of my favorites on the disc.

Now we get to the two juggernauts, even though "Funeral", at this point in the album, was already the longest at 8 minutes, "Bastard comes in at a little over 10, almost picking up where "Funeral" left off at the same leisurely drum pace. This track is one of his classic "reverb soundscapes" as I call them. "Accelerated Evolution" has a number of this such as "Deadhead" and "Away": no tempo changes, fairly slow speeds and plenty of reverb, reverb and noise. Not in a deafening way, but in a multi-layered fashion. It's that typical sound he's after, with the reverb leaving echoes behind and creating these ethereal wisps and trails of music and noise behind, laying chords on top of chords and leaving the drums to create a big, full, thick backbone behind these gargantuan monoliths as they trudge along with synths blaring and Townsend's power chords continuing to strum away for another 7 or so minutes.

The longest song, "The Death Of Music", clocking in at over 12 minutes, is also is most experimental of the lot, creating an eerie soundscape of dissonant piano chords behind whispers and sound samples, and the first words he sings still behind this atmosphere almost remind me of Roger Waters behind a trademark Pink Floydian soundscape. Almost. Still, this is by far the most experimental of the albums songs, and it fairly remains static and predictable for the most part, sounding more and more Floyd-like as you near the end, and even the intro strums of "Thing Beyond Things" almost has a Floydian quality to them, as if the band is ready to break out into a 50 minute long jam behind wailing guitar solos and synth-backed soundscapes. Except it's less interesting, as it's basically a ballad.

Still, not bad at all for Townsend's first effort. The latter half of the disc is fairly forgettable, with "Funeral" and maybe "The Death Of Music" being exceptions, while the first is filled with catchy, reverb-tastic power tunes. It may not be entirely sophisticated as his later albums, but for a Townsend fan, it's still going to be an undeniable sound.

Report this review (#1452730)
Posted Thursday, August 13, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Ocean Machine: Biomech" was Devin Townsend's first real solo album, even though the band project was initially named Ocean Machine. Prior to that, he had done the Punky Brewster farcical album about a death metal band that turns pop punk and had found some decent degree of success with his extreme metal / industrial metal band Strapping Young Lad. SYL's second album was in response to the Devin's experience with the music industry, or as he might have put it, a big middle finger to the music business. The rage, the frustration, the unbridled and unrestrained angst, not to mention uncensored, ironically made Strapping Young Lad's album "City" a big hit in certain circles and is still considered by many to be the best of the five SYL albums.

Devin Townsend, however, had another side to his music. He was interested in melody, in ambiance, and in music with depth. While writing "City" he also produced several other songs that, although employing heavily distorted guitars and his trademark powerful, ragged edged vocals, was too soft for "City". Some of these songs had actually originated years before when he was still undiscovered by Steve Vai and recording with his Noisescapes project. This other side of Devin came out as the Ocean Machine project, later renamed simply Devin Townsend while the Ocean Machine moniker became part of the album title.

The music on this album gives us a great indication of where Devin's career would go in the future. Sounds and styles from the Devin Townsend Band and the Devin Townsend Project are already apparent here as well as his interest in ambient music. The guitars are richly distorted and layered, there are synthesizers with an atmospheric bend also layered, and Devin's distinct vocals both harsh and soft layered in as well. Music styles range from the melodic industrial metal of "Night" to the radio pop friendly chorus of "Life" (sounds like a potential hit) to the ambient style of "The Death of Music" to the heavy riffing of "Regulator" to the heavy but atmospheric and melodic sounds of "Funeral". There's a wonderful church chorus part, sparse and beautiful, at the end of "Voices in the Fan", too.

While still on the loud and heavy side, "Ocean Machine: Biomech" doesn't hit with the machine gun intensity of Strapping Young Lad's "City" but instead seems very aptly named as the music sometimes feels like the surface of an ocean, fluid and gently shifting with swells of loudness and sound building, rising, cresting, and falling. In "Funeral" we even hear seagulls as if to enhance the oceanic atmosphere of much of the album.

This is not an album of apparent technical virtuosity. There is little if anything that comes across as tight and complex as one finds on albums like "Synchresta" by DTB or "Deconstruction" by DTP. Some parts are heavier and intense, some parts sparse and melodic, but always the undulating waves of a distortion-filled sea are never far away. In a way this sounds like relaxation music for someone who still wants to be loud.

A final observation, "The Death of Music" includes some spoken dialogue in the background in parts that are from a trip Devin made to Japan. We can hear him getting directions from a woman speaking with clear but accented English and Devin responding with , "Thank you very much" and then later hear him describing a driving range on the top of a building or the pedestrian crossing melody for the blind which plays to the tune of "When a Buddy Sees a Buddy Coming through the Rye". As the track fades he comments on a sign for Fukuoka City, reading it as "Fuk U, OK, eh?" A small detail but as I live in Japan, it caught my attention. The album concludes after the slow album closer "Thing Beyond Things" with Devin providing a full on scream as if to remind us that the furious rage of "City" is not far behind it all.

Fans of non-complex ambient metal or melodic industrial metal or even just fans of Devin Townsend will find this a decent album to add to their collections. My personal preference is for some of Devin's later albums, but recently I found that I enjoy this album more than I did a year ago when I first purchased it.

Report this review (#1486060)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Devin Townsend's trademark album, with which he immediately set himself apart from the contemporaries: strong melodies, outstanding singing, wall of sound instead of instrumental chops. Guitar playing is riff-based, not much soloing or technical anomalies displayed here. Even if the massive background sonic landscape may be overwhelming, it does not overshadow the strong vocal delivery. Yes, this is not the prototype of progressive metal for art's sake - here we have pop, rock, 80's metal and electronica influences. The largest highlights I see in this album are the melodies, vocal qualities and interesting chord sequences. The last two long songs have even more focus on delightful vocal expression. The album flows like water, sometimes larger waves, sometimes no wind at all - as can be heard in the instrumental 3AM. Devin Townsend showed a lot of promise at this young stage of his career. If you listen to the bonus track, turn down the volume since there will be a shocking surprise in the end ;-).
Report this review (#2042957)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2018 | Review Permalink

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