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Devin Townsend - Lightwork CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal

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The Crow
2 stars After three years of waiting and a couple of experimental albums in between, Devin Townsend returns with a new album called "Lightwork".

In short, what we have here is a comeback to the most commercial passages of albums like "Addicted!" and "Epicloud", with new age touches in the style of "Ghost", resulting in a somewhat monotonous and uninspired album, whose baroque production is not able to hide.

That monotony is broken by the more progressive Heartbreaker, which reminds me of the more elaborate passages of the much superior "Transcendence", and a kind of homage to his most industrial phase in the interesting Dimensions, which includes a good solo by the always willing to collaborate Steve Vai.

Therefore, the fact that "Empath" didn't quite live up to expectations and that this "Lightwork" is a downright mediocre album, makes me think that the golden boy of prog is slowly losing his magic touch.

But hey... We'll always have his great albums from the past!

Best Tracks: Moonpeople (good chorus and great guitar riffs), Heartbreaker (wonderful guitar work and a central part that brings back some of the chaos and genius that made Devin great in the past) and the aforementioned Dimensions (these growls!!!)

My Rating: **

Report this review (#2850207)
Posted Sunday, November 6, 2022 | Review Permalink
3 stars Devin TOWNSEND, leader of Strapping Young Lad, Casualties Of Cool and his various projects, started releasing CDs in 1997; nicknamed the mad scientist of metal to mix moods, metal, pop, ambient, prog, indus, country and thrash tunes based on a wall of extreme sound piling up guitars and keyboards. Diagnosed bi-polar I understand a little more his varied musical wanderings. This is his 21st more atmospheric album.

'Moonpeople' nice, opening pop song with a sound like THE GATHERING, AYREON while rising with a heady riff. Awe-inspiring, ethereal 'Lightworker' intro, post-pandemic lullaby? The sound is intended to be expressive, there is an air of a carnival; the station wagon brings the typical heavy cries, you don't change a man like that; the weird symphonic keyboards and introduce 'Equinox' yes for a few seconds I thought about that too' Jean-Michel Jarre's 'Equinoxe'; in the same melodious tone. 'Call of the Void' on a monolithic soft track with no interest other than the distinctive keyboard; sweet sentimentality that passes like ice cream in the sun. 'Heartbreaker' arrives and returns to the DTP sound with a ballad on a syncopated sound of keyboards, soft-rock air intermixed with various voices, psychic relaxation; fleeting reminiscences of Oldfield too.

'Dimensions' Teutonic industrial rock, powerful, catchy; Killing Joke even Rammstein, screaming voice and air where the solo seems to come out of nowhere; tortured sound typed with metallic drums and padded synths. 'Celestial Signals' continues with the Devin sound; wall of sound after an airy pop-new wave couplet, bombastic choirs and seagulls at the end. 'Heavy Burden' industrial pop-metal where the sampled voice denotes singularly; children coming to chat, perky synth; an eerie art-rock operatic riff arises, overhears, a chirp and country-folk 'Vacation' arrives, soft, regressive, denoting launching 'Children of God' long monolithic track with mantra rhythm; the finale with waves, seagulls and fog horn wakes up to land on the shore.

Devin emerges from the pandemic casting a direct sound, less aggressive, more musical, a light in the dark; opus with varied and repetitive titles, musical oxymoron; accompanied by artists changing her own creative ideas, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Mike Keneally, Steve Vai and the Elektra Women's Choir; a commercial musical bridge with a demo cd for an accessible album.

Report this review (#2855135)
Posted Monday, November 28, 2022 | Review Permalink
3 stars A subtle Devy in the End?

Always known for his massive arrangements and extremer than life Metal escapades, Devin Townsend seems to grow more mature with each release. For me his heyday isn´t long gone and he is further away from growing bald than ever. Since at least Transcendence getting more experimental with each release. Lightwork his newest work of what fans started calling "Therapy Metal" is far from the simple statement it was advertised as. Not stopping his widely known and for some even bearing on the overwhelming quote unquote "wall of sound" approach he still manages to be a lot more subtle with Lightwork than ever. Mostly in the department of small harmonic shifts with drastic colour change like in the prechorus of equinox. That little bit is a brutally complex stateoftheartjazzwhattheheck and I love its magic. And other hot parts like the final shift to minor at the end of Moonpeople for the last phrase. This part feels like diving into a deep blue sea of dreams. Lightworker works with brilliant dynamic shifts that are effectively passages as grand as damwalls next to flower beds, but he makes them as smooth as a milkshake. Dimensions is more prog in a few minutes than most peoples careers (to bring some of the prog review standards ; ) ) It manages to never break out and still maintaining the intensity of Strapping Young lad. Some of the songs are pure power pop fan service I have to admit. Looking at Celestial Signals and Call of the Void. But they are great anyway. And there is the onomatopoetic masterpiece heavy burden that manages to sound like radiohead with a childrens choir that slowly drift into some islandish stuff that then itself drifts to a passage of classical drama ending in something that sounds very cardiacsyy. The whole song is actually very cardiacs and hyper weird. Its one of my favorites on the album, though. Oh I forgot to mention Devin using his guitar like whale noise. The Ending song Children of God is actually a masterwork in modern symphony and a reason why for me Devin is more and more turning from a rock musician to a real symphonic classical master. And someday he will be appreciated for these dare I say divinely beautiful layers of sound. If you listen to only one Song from this album, then listen to Children of God. Its a mellow journey through his whole harmonic, melodic and rhythmic palette and often its like 5 songs playing at the same time. (listen carefully and with good headphones). An album about healing. Exactly at the right time...

So in the end Lightwork is more subtle and in a Pop sense the most Disney marketable piece he´s ever done. Somehow a marriage of his typical DTP Sound and the more New Age vibes of lets say Ghost. But on the whole a bit too directionless to really function as a whole. Especially Heartbreaker is - although packed with mostly fantastique ideas - a bit unstructured and you can truly hear that it was produced last minute, too. The ideas are all their though and I would like to see plenty of them more fully explored.

Very good album nonetheless.

Personal Rating 9/15

Report this review (#2855640)
Posted Thursday, December 1, 2022 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Slow Exhale

Devin Townsend has always had multiple types of music swirling in his head and during the pandemic this came to a swirling storm resulting in the quite good but inherently limited audience of The Puzzle (and it's mellower companion Snuggles). Townsend abandoned any intention of pleasing record company or masses and made the chaotic ambient record that was driving his muse.

So there had to be a rebound. Percolating at the same time were a number of poppy fun songs (some of which DT released as youtube singles). After completing the monster project, Townsend knew he quickly had to put something more palatable out. By the time the new project, Lightwork, was completed, even Devin knew he may have swung too far in the other direction. He often remarked in interviews that he had no idea whether his fan base would like the record but (as per his usual) it represented what his life was like in those moments.

When the first few promo singles came out for "Moonpeople" and "Lightworker" I was a bit worried. The songs were very stripped down, simple, and even as an enormous Devhead, I wasn't connecting. Luckily, when the full album came out, it was clear the album was going to have a lot more range that Devin had hinted at. "Heartbreaker" begins with heavy guitars in odd rhythm and the complex layers many of us have come to love. "Dimensions" has an almost industrial vibe (that I totally love) and is one of Townsend's most driving songs to date. I am very excited to see that one live. There is also an update of "Celestial Signals" from the B-side of Transcendence that I prefer though not everyone does. "Children of God" is the kind of soaring anthem Townsend seems to enjoy doing more and more as time goes on, but is too long. Luckily he gives a shorter version on the B-sider called "Children of Dog."

As usual, there are some tasty nuggets on the B-side, including some very heavy bits. Many fans including myself have created their own track lists taking their faves from the 2 discs.

All in all, this was a satisfying collection of new Devin Townsend material. But with his enormous catalog, this is never going to be one you recommend as a starting point or even early in someone's journey. There are less prog elements in this one than many of his discs. I will say, however, that of all the 2022 releases, I've listened to this one more than perhaps any other.

Report this review (#2879947)
Posted Thursday, February 2, 2023 | Review Permalink

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