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SYNCHESTRA (THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND)

Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal


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Devin Townsend Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band) album cover
4.02 | 279 ratings | 33 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Let It Roll (2:52)
2. Hypergeek (2:20)
3. Triumph (7:08)
4. The Baby Song (5:30)
5. Vampolka (1:36)
6. Vampira (3:27)
7. Mental Tan (2:15)
8. Gaia (6:03)
9. Pixillate (8:17)
10. Judgment (5:55)
11. A Simple Lullaby (7:09)
12. Sunset (2:31)
13. Notes from Africa (7:42)
14. Sunshine and Happiness (2:36)

Total Time: 63:08

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Devin Townsend / lead vocals, guitar
- Brian Waddell / guitar
- Ryan van Poederooyen / drums
- Dave Young / keyboards
- Mike Young / bass

Releases information

Released as a regular edition in jewel case as well as special edition in digipak, with extended 16 page booklet and bonus DVD. On this DVD you will find a 57 minute long live in the studio gig of the Devin Townsend Band.

Thanks to ayreon_the_blin for the addition
and to LiquidEternity for the last updates
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Presents: Ziltoid the OmniscientPresents: Ziltoid the Omniscient
Inside Out 2007
Audio CD$9.48
$13.86 (used)
InfinityInfinity
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SynchestraSynchestra
Inside Out U.S. 2006
Audio CD$9.19
$8.98 (used)
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DEVIN TOWNSEND Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band) ratings distribution


4.02
(279 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
29%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
47%
Good, but non-essential (17%)
17%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

DEVIN TOWNSEND Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band) reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by FishyMonkey
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A little early to review this? No, I've been listening to it for the past month since it leaked. So sue me. I bought it already, I have the t-shirt, I've paid my dues to one of the best albums I've ever heard.

Indeed, it is definitely one of the best records I've ever heard and another brilliant Townsend record. Count another five star rating for Devin Townsend from me. This man just cannot be stopped in his brilliance. His sound has evolved from the more straightforward atmospheric metal found on Ocean Machine, to the sounds of divinity themselves on Infinity, to straight forward atmospheric SYL-lite, to the song of the earth, to straight forward heavy rock from heaven and now...finally, the culmination of all the sounds, all the sights and smells of Devy's crazy career, here on this record. It's all here, catchy hooks, brutal walls of sounds with screaming vocals, catchy poppy songs, pure prog metal, pure prog rock, beautiful melodies and segments, all of it, and it's all awesome.

Let It Roll opens with a wonderful acoustic guitar and nice vocals from Devy. A very nice relaxing intro. When the drums come in it's real inspirational, and the album's strongest point hits you for the first time: this is an album to cheer you up and set you right in life. This is in album you put on after something awful has happened, and by the end you are emotionally drained of anything except a fuzzy warm feeling. Hypergeek is exactly as the title suggests: insane and off-the-wall with some strange as hell sound samples. Not ambience, but just weird. There's an ok melody going on... until the double bass hits and there's a crushing guitar riff and now the album has begun. There's another inspirational section with an uplifting melody, then the song ends, fast and furious.

It leads into the first big standout of this album, Triumph. Not to say the first two songs weren't amazing; they were. But Triumph is where it all really kicks off and grabs you and doesn't let go. The vocal lines are infectious as hell, I was saying, "And they said it was this, and they said it was that" and "hooray for Doctor Young... hooray for earth born and son" or whatever the lyrics are for weeks. The "One word ...collective! Mankind...collective!" section is awesome. There's a shirt folk country interlude, a sublime guitar solo from Steve Vai, an amazing build up with some terrific Devy vocals, this song has it all. Awesome. Triumph leads into Babysong, which is a strange one. It's like a heavy metal lullaby. Bludgeoning yet precious. Lyrics are strange, but the whole song pulls itself off pretty well. Not the strongest offering on the album but no slouch. A formidable song.

Then comes Vampolka. This one is a really strange one, a joke by the band revolving around organ and trombone and sounds and a "surfs up" style guitar, I forgot what the song was that popularized it. It takes the melody of Vampira and twists it. Meh, ok, I'll listen to it. Vampira comes...the single of the album. Some good vocal work by Devy...pretty great, actually. The rest is simply ok. Overall, Babysong, Vampolka and Vampira are probably the three low points of the album, but the fact that they are contiguous is good so they don't destroy the flow of better songs. And...they really aren't all that bad, especially Babysong. Just not as good as the rest of the album. However, 99% of music out there isn't as good as this album, so that's not saying much.

Anyway, next is Mental Tan. It introduces a lovely melody and is quite pretty, but nothing happens. I really like it though. It goes into Gaia, which comes in full steam ahead, all band members pounding away. A lovely melody, lovely keyboard work to give a earthy-windy feel to the song, I really can't describe it. This is another big song on the album. Amazing stuff. It goes into Pixellate, which is the longest and biggest (Devy's wall of sound) song on the album. The different emotions and feels it goes through is amazing, and is overall a breathtaking song. That's three perfects in a row now...and Judgement doesn't disappoint either. It's probably the most powerful song on the album and has some truly colossal yells from Mr. Townsend. It brings that that lovely melody from Mental Tan at the perfect time, after a brutally badass yet really cool and pretty section with Townsend screaming.

Next is A Simple Lullaby, which is anything but simple or a lullaby. It's pretty simple in concept, and revolves around the same melody, but I find this song passes the quickest on the album. It's just a really interesting listen if you get engrossed in it. Fun to listen to. That's now five aces in a row. Can it continue? Yes! Sunset, while simple like Mental Tan, is no less pretty. In fact it's got some of the prettiest, most inspiring and genuinely happy moments on the album. Six in a row. Notes from Africa? Well...great melody? Check. Lovely layering? Check. Reference to SYL's 'Love?'? Check. Great vocals and lyrics? Check. Make that seven aces in a row. THAT'S HALF THE ALBUM. Unfortunately that spree is broken by the last song Sunshine and Happiness, which, as it suggests, is stupidly happy. It's a fun listen once or twice, but it offers no real depth. I usually stop the album after the rainforest at the end of Notes from Africa, cause S&H offers nothing to the album and even mars the experience.

What can I say? It feels weird giving a THIRD five star rating to one artist. King Crimson only has one (possibly two in the future), Yes has one, Porcupine Tree has two, Pain of Salvation one, Dredg one, Opeth NONE...I don't like to give out five star ratings. But to give this less is a travesty. This is a complete masterpiece of progressive music.

I'm almost afraid to review this and get it more attention, lest some conceited old- school proghead comes in and reviews it poorly because they don't enjoy the heavier sounds, the wall of sound, Devy's none-too-friendly vocals or something stupid like guitar tone. But I will, and be satisfied with the fact that those too close-minded to enjoy Townsend's work are missing an amazing bit of music, stuff to change your life ...temporarily at least.

FIVE OUT OF FIVE. PERFECT.

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Send comments to FishyMonkey (BETA) | Report this review (#67871) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Review by The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Yes, Devin Townsend has made another masterpiece after "Terria". I always thought that the incredible levels of quality of "Terria" were imposible to reach again. Maybe this album doesn't reach these levels, but it's very very close... And sometimes even surpases it.

But the main thing is that "Synchestra" is different of all the other Devin Townsend's works. While "Terria" is very much soft, melancholic and with a lot of ambient sounds and passages, "Synchestra" is very much direct, revitalizing and happy album. It's like taking the best of "Terria" and "Accelerated Evolution" and mixing it in a perfect way, with some pieces of all his other albums, included Strapping Young Lad's ones. And the result is an album that sounds completely fresh and original...

Here you have killer metal acts like Hypergeek (just amazing), Gaia (outstanding sound in rythm guitars) and Vampira (the best song of the album? The Devin's voice here simply rules!). But here are also very beautiful tracks in a melodic and ambient way like Mental Tan, Sunsent, A Simple Lullaby (this track is an evident tribute to "Terria") and Let it Roll (very catchy song perfect to open this album). And of course, the experimentation and new ideas of this masterhead of metal in songs like Triumph (incredible Steve Vai's solo at the end), The Baby Song (very interesting song with a killer ending), Vampolka (just amusing), Pixillate (this arabian feeling is great), Judgement (very complete track) or Notes From Africa (very original track with great choirs, with a wink to the SYL's song Love).

I wish also to say that the production in this album is outstanding. Every instrument sounds perfect. The bass and drums are powerful and sometimes even give us a little of virtuosity... The keyboards are implemented in a very good way to give different moods to the songs. The guitars have an amazing sound, while maybe I miss more solos... And what can I say about the Devin's voice? Yes, he is the best singer today in rock and metal. His work in this album is simply outstanding. The best Devin's singing I've heard to date.

Conclusion: if you like the music, buy this album. And in the case that you've never heard any Devin Townsend's album, I think "Synchestra" is a perfect point of entry in the career of this amazing musician... Because like the own Townsend said in an interview, I think that "Synchestra" is the end of an era in his music, and after this album the things maybe will be different... But if "Synchestra" is really the end of an era, is the most brilliant and powerful ending I can imagine.

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#71801) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 13, 2006

Review by hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars I just can say that this is the most hilarious prog metal album released in that year (or maybe ever).Just because this "piece of art" Mr. Townsend is presenting us here is a type of Flower Kings-Spock's Beard-whatever-piece-of-prog-medley-made-up-to-sound-like-metal mix. I said already in a review for another album by him that he's favorite of piling up soundwalls and that's exactly what he's doing here. It's absolutely ridiculous because actually anything seems to fit together on here. Don't get me wrong, the album is absolutely rocking and has power (and therefore it's not astounding that it's that much popular as it seems to be), but seriously not any serious prog fan can be interested in such type of music. This record contains some rather nice hard rock music to run in the back without disturbing, but anything that has to do with progressive rock (as I understand the term), that's why I can't rate it here in this context (since we're dealing on this site with Prog) higher than with one star!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#84849) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Review by Australian
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Synchestra" is an album which takes time for one to discover, and I'm still exploring all the fine and subtle details of the album. Devin Townsend has succeeded with this album as he makes you think of the music, the layers, the lyrics everything about the album is a gradual experience. I must admit that a very short time ago I really did not like this album, but one day when I ventured another listen I discovered its charm.

The album seems to get heavier as it progresses. The opener "Let it Roll" is a nice acoustic song with a strong melody and vocals from Devin Townsend. The next song "Hypergeek" which begins with an up tempo acoustic section with birds chirping in the background and frogs croaking. It then without warning turns into a very heavy song with the original melody still present. This one song best characterises the album as it modulates in sound somewhat. However the second half of the album is very heavy and can get very tedious at times depending on one's mood. None the less the album is a great listen and can be very rewarding.

1. Let It Roll (4/5) 2. Hypergeek (4/5) 3. Triumph (4/5) 4. The Baby Song (3.5/5) 5. Vampolka (3.5/5) 6. Vampira (3.5/5) 7. Mental Tan (3/5) 8. Gaia (4/5) 9. Pixillate (3/5) 10. Judgement (3/5) 11. A Simple Lullaby (3/5) 12. Sunset (3/5) 13. Notes From Africa (3/5) 14. Sunshine And Happiness [Secret Track] (4/5) Total = 48.5 divided by 14 (number of songs) = 3.464 = 3 stars Good, but non-essential

Overall a great album, and although I'm giving it three stars I really believe it is a sensational album. The limited edition of the album comes with a DVD with lots of special features and some live songs with lots of head banging. The packaging is also different, and impression. There is also a special surprise at the end of the album which any Devin Townsend fan would enjoy. For this reason I highly recommend the limited edition to fans of him. For everyone else, it may not be pretty to start with but I assure you it grows.

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Send comments to Australian (BETA) | Report this review (#85161) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 30, 2006

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A very strong, musically thematic, and thoroughly enjoyable release, filled with DT's signature variety of spacey-metal, this time with a fair amount of acoustic beauty thrown in for fun. "Let It Roll" is a delightful surprise opening, while "Vampolka/pira" will positively tickle then destroy the listener. Successive songs are almost all good, with an emphasis on moods and textures-- there are very few standout melodies on this one. While "Synchestra" is undeniably an amazing release, it does contain the worst DT song ever recorded (in my humble opinion): "Baby Song", a hideously noisy and uninteresting blunder. Can't wrote solid gold every time, right? Additionally, taken as a whole "Synchestra" sounds somewhat repetitive, and won't leave many memories until after the 4th or 5th run through; however, like every DT release the listener will find much to appreciate and enjoy, and I recommend this to any and all interested in DT music after they've listened to "Ziltoid" or "Terria"-- his much stronger releases.

Songwriting 3 Instrumental Performances 3 Lyrics/Vocals 4 Style/Emotion/Replay 3

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#137922) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Review by MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Let it Roll: What a great way to start an album. Beautiful vocal arrangements combined with lush acoustic instruments. Near the end some ambient noise layers fade in, reminding us that this is indeed - a Devin Townsend album.

Hypergeek: This song begins with - a sample of a frog. Some birds join in, and the polyphonic acoustic guitars and piano melodies really fit. Halfway through the track the mood suddenly changes, exploding into a typical driving Townsend song.

Triumph: This track is pretty much a typical Townsend song, executed flawlessly. But it also contains a solo by Steve Vai - and it really blends in amazingly. When I heard about Vai performing on a Townsend album I was a little worried if that would work - but it does. After 3 minutes or so the mood of the song changes, adding banjos and piano melodies that soften up the mood of the song, and at 3:45 weirdness takes over, culminating in Vai's beautiful solo. It's not quirky or anything - just beautiful.

Babysong: Devin's use of 3/4 rhythms (waltzes) always puts a smile on my face. You could even dance to this, if he didn't vary the mood so much. Here Devin really goes crazy with layering, there must be more than a dozen of independent instruments collaborating here. In some parts they are synchronized though, and here the song reminds of the Ocean Machine album. Near the end the waltz is beefed up with some serious blastbeats, followed by a really crazy vocal dominated part with oriental harmonic structure. Weird as a really WEIRD thing!

Vampolka: This is indeed a polka ... in the context of the album this is as weirds as his quirky song Ants from the Infinity album.

Vampira: This is a pretty normal track in Devin's terms. It's great though - A driving metal song with some cool growling vocals by Devin. But don't worry, they totally fit the song's mood. Throughout the song there's a hammond organ beefing up the mix, and some strange background vocals which really manage to create a transsilvanian setting.

Mental Tan: This is just a segue - really cool and mellow.

Gaia: One of the (many) highlights of the album. Here the album title really applies - all the good aspects of the various Devin Townsend albums are combined in this track.

Pixillate: Just as good as Gaia, but much more unusual and experimental. You'll have to listen for yourself ...

Judgement: A very nice song - together with Gaia and Pixillate it forms the core of the album. It's a very solid core ...

A Simple Lullaby: This reminds me of Terria - it starts a bit derivative, but on the whole it still is a very good track. After 2 1/2 minutes there's considerable variation, and after 4 minutes it's like a completely different song.

Sunset: This starts as a plain rock song, but only for 45 seconds. Beautiful piano arpeggios and vocal melodies which are joined by more and more independent instruments.

Notes from Africa: A very happy track, with driving guitar riffs and funky bass lines. Devin's insane vocals stand out here.

Untitled (Hidden Track): A nice hidden track - but nothing special.

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Send comments to MikeEnRegalia (BETA) | Report this review (#161251) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 08, 2008

Review by LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The band-oriented feel of Accelerated Evolution hits its peak here as it combines with the full force of Devin's abstract creativity.

Short of Terria, Synchestra is Devin's masterpiece. It's progressive and off-the-wall at times, mellow and straightforward at others. It's got atmospheric ambiance. It's got crushing metal. It's got heart-wrenching singing and throat-biting screaming. It's got wicked drumming, it's got wicked guitar work (yes, some from Steve Vai), and the production and mastering is absolutely splendid. What we have here is, in a way, Terria mark 2, without plagiarizing the first at all. What's best about this album, though, is that Devin does not shut himself in a box in any way. He clears his slate of all usual compositional tendencies and makes a totally new album.

The difference is instant. Instead of an explosion of wildness or weirdness, we have the gentle acoustic Let It Roll. That segues into Hypergeek, which still does not kick into gear. At least, not at first. It builds layer by layer for the first half, and then rips into crazy metal mode for the second, without featuring any real vocals except as background instruments. Some crazy picking and a few blast beats later, the first song proper enters the stage, Triumph. This track builds slowly over crescendoing drums, turning a metal piece into something much different with a highly harmonized chorus--almost creepily harmonized, as they're singing about mankind being a collective. Some banjos and bluegrass enter in the middle, and a rather pretty guitar piece from Steve Vai ends it.

The cynical Baby Song plays next, revisiting some themes from Infinity and Strapping Young Lad's Love?. Carrying the mood, Vampolka plays like a creepy mobile for a baby, preparing the listener for the first real stand alone track on the album, Vampira. This plays like a single from Hell, with way over the top verse vocals and wonderfully long chorus screams. Of note is the official video for the song, performed by a dancing Devin Townsend in a tacky Satan suit. Never seen anyone knee-kick and scream their head off at the same time. Certainly something to experience. Mental Tan slows down the pacing, calming the listener after the adrenaline-pumping Vampira.

Gaia is the album's other single sort of track, featuring much more mellow vocals and a nice chugging riff in the background. While I like this track, it's not particularly remarkable. The next one is, though. Pixillate features some of the album's heaviest moments, also introducing a riff that will play out through the next couple songs as they flow into each other. Judgment is also very heavy, with some nice screaming and some crazy vibrato. The end references Mental Tan, as well, right before it becomes A Simple Lullaby. At first, this track was my least favorite. But then I listened to it loud on a good sound system, and I realized that Devin was right when he said it was about 500,000 screaming and cheering. With a good system, this is probably Devin's most impressive song ever, making for a terrific climax.

Sliding off that climax is the quick instrumental Sunset, a cheerful and mellow song. Then we hit Notes from Africa, a complicated and many-layered tribal sort of piece. The vocal melodies are all odd but fit together really nicely. The drumming is absolutely out of this world, though. My hands have never once held still through listening to that whole song. The music fades out, part by part, until all that's left are jungle noises. After a few minutes of quiet, the bonus track, Sunshine and Happiness, enters. This is probably the most cheerful and happy song not only that Devin has written but that is present in the realm of metal ever. Almost impossible not to grin while listening.

In all, a powerful, moving, fully developed album with some sort of deep concept. I would highly recommend this to any fan of metal, progressive metal, or good music in general, though the small amounts of screaming can be turnoffs for many.

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Posted Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 'Synchestra' - Devin Townsend (9/10)

There has not been another album in the progressive metal world that I think comes closer to the realm of world music than Devin Townsend's Synchestra. There is a great feeling of unity on this record, as if all the denizens of the world have come together to hold hands and bask under the warmth of the sun. It sounds strange, but only a simile or abstract metaphor could even begin to describe the warm power that Devin Townsend's music has. Maybe it's the pure originality, maybe it's even the unique way in which the music is produced. The fact remains however, that 'Synchestra' is one of his best works, second only to 'Terria' in terms of brilliance.

This is really what Devin Townsend's music should sound like. The production is perfect, and theres a fair balance of childishness and seriousness in order to make a piece of art that is enjoyable and fun yet credible and intelligent at the same time. This is not the sort of prog music you would ever see Dream Theater making. There are different layers that make this music progressive. While Devin Townsend may very well be one of the most talented rock guitarists out there on the music scene today, unlike your typical Petrucci or Yngwie, he doesn't flaunt his powers. Instead, the majority of his work is pretty laid back in terms of technicality, except for the occasional solo, where he'll go all out and truly make a statement about his virtuosic talent as a musician, and put his contemporaries to shame!

The two cornerstones of this album are 'Triumph' and 'Notes From Africa.' The later is where the 'world music' aspect of 'Synchestra' really comes together. The heavy overdubbing typical of Townsend's work really comes into play here, and gives a feeling of global cohesion. It's a feeling I have yet to find on any other record.

The only possible shortcoming this album has is it's bonus track 'Sunshine And Happiness' but it's become increasingly clear that the bonus track is meant as nothing more than a light hearted joke. Therefore, taken as it is, there is nothing wrong with this album at all. This is album that has the uncanny ability to lift your mood no matter what. It has a really warm, positive feeling to it.

Fantastic. A true testament to the body of talent that is Devin Townsend.

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Posted Monday, March 02, 2009

Review by horsewithteeth11
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Synchestra is the second release from The Devin Townsend Band, as well as Devy's seventh release as a solo artist assuming you count both his ambient albums, Devlab and Hummer, as studio releases, which I do. Synchestra is by far the most upbeat and light-hearted release to date by Devin, although given that Strapping Young Lad's Alien came out earlier that year makes total sense that this release seems pretty jovial. Actually, to be quite honest, when I first heard about Ki, I thought it would sound something like this album.

Out of all the DT albums I have, this one probably took the longest to grow on me. While The Devin Townsend Band is supposed to be cheerful in and of itself, this still stands out pretty well. Given that Devin sounds pissed off (or at least slightly irate or unnerved) on most of his work, this work is almost as if Devin swallowed a few ecstasy pills before writing down and recording the music on Synchestra. There are a few headbanging moments to be found here and there, yes, but there's plenty of lush keyboards and some almost folksy feel to many of the songs. There is even a tribal element, which is most noticeable on Notes from Africa (one of my favorite DT tracks). The one sound that I sometimes wish Devin would use more in his slow and mid-tempo songs are also found on the album in healthy quantities: acoustic instrumentation. And yet at the same time, this album also features a combination of many of the elements on all previous DT albums. That is understandable, given that he disbanded Strapping Young Lad and The Devin Townsend Band the following year and began a long, musical exile that led to a period of recovery and self-redemption which is starting to be revealed to the general public. In other words, after this album, Devy changed his outlook and work as a musician. Time will tell if that is for better or for worse, but I can definitely say for sure that the first era of his solo output is of excellent quality. And Synchestra is the culmination of all that hard work.

For newcomers, this is honestly the best place to start. It gives you a little taste of everything Devy has done up to this point without overburdening you with humongous walls of sound and heaviness on every song (although it pop up from time to time). I have no problem giving this excellent release 4 stars. Parts of the second half tend to make my mind wander, but it doesn't hurt the high quality of Synchestra all that much for me.

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Posted Friday, October 02, 2009

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars Branching out into new territory a great sign for things to come

Synchestra is Devin Townsend's 7th studio album and it is no surprise that once again Heavy Devy is branching out into some unreserved new territory as he does on all his albums. This is no Ziltoid, which is a couple of albums away, and it certainly aint no Terria. In fact it is a rock opera with a vampiric theme underpinning it. My overall reaction was that Synchestra has the catchy tunes of Terria though nowhere near as technical, and has hints of the dark humour of Ziltoid in places. There are some outstanding songs on this that really stay in the cranium well after the CD has ended, Vampira, and there are throwaway tracks, Babysong, that are as forgettable as some of the material on Accelerated Evolution. However, the really great moments are mind-blowingly brilliant which tends to make up for some of the solemn melancholy moments that are like smoke in the air and disappear.

The whole album seems to flow lucidly from track to track and indeed the album as a whole is masterfully produced and realised, at least on a conceptual level. Musically, it is as flawless as Devvy gets and that has become an unexpected factor on his albums. The Hammond sounds great and the lead guitar breaks are killer, and there are some incredible wall of sound moments where the crescendo rises and Devvy really goes into full flight on vocals, belting out massive growls and literally shouting his voice raw. These moments are juxtaposed by subtle gentle vocals and a minimalist acoustic arrangement such as the opening track. Devin tries to get spiritual with nature on Gaia, but this is a mismatch for me, not cohesively linking to the overall concept.

The highlight for me begins at the polka, which is as quirky as anything I have heard, almost sounding like the polkas on Weird Al Yankovic's albums. The satirical nature of Vampolka is enhanced by the speed of the melody that simply rips past in minutes, and this prepares us for the real deal, which is the showstopper of the album, the brilliant Vampira. I had heard this on a live clip of a Vampire Rock show starring some great rock stars, and of course it is a melodic standout and perhaps one of Devin's best compositions. The guitars on this are crunching and the heavy power riffing is accompanied by caustic gravel vocals that are dark and menacing throughout, reminding me of the style Devin does with Ziltoid, ala Planet Smasher. The moments where Devin sings in his clear vocal to heavy metal riffs are also wonderful, and this is where he tends to shine. The standout track Notes From Africa is well structured and memorable to close the album before a weird ghost track. I have to mention Triumph too with a lead break from the mindbending Steve Vai as a track you should hear for certain. Devin has a great band to back him up as usual, the other lead guitarist is so good I had to research him to see what else he had done. Well I was delighted to discover Brian Waddell was also on the Devlab album, as part of the Devin Townsend band of course, and he appears on Accelerated Evolution and the latest Addicted album, playing bass and doing gang vocals if you don't mind.

Devin decided to go solo with Hummer after Synchestra. A pity really as the band sounds so good here. The best thing about this split is that Devin was really able to branch out into some incredible experimental territory and he produced Ziltoid The Omniscient, the masterpiece of dark metal humour. Synchestra is sandwiched between two of Devin's worst albums so it really looks like a standout in his repertoire, although having heard most of his albums it is fair to say that it isn't up to the masterpeice standard of some of his other works. In any case Synchestra is a great album and worth listening to whether you are into metal or not. It is entertaining and one of Devin's great achievements as the unsurpassed 'Mad Scientist of Metal'.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#329136) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, November 21, 2010

Review by Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Another Great Outing for Devy

Synchestra and Accelerated Evolution, in retrospect, have the poor fortune of being placed between Devin Townsend's career defining works, Terria and Ziltoid. Both are extremely solid, fully developed examples of Devy's wall of sound mash of extreme metal, pop, new age, and zaniness. Where AE was heavy both in sound and emotional content, Synchestra is a little more mature and eclectic. AE has higher highs and lower lows. As I owned AE first, Synchestra gets lumped in my mind with its predecessor. But as I listen for this review, there are so many grand moments that I believe I'll do a track by track.

1. Let it Roll - Gently beginning with a strummed guitar and simple melody, Devin eases us in for what's going to be quite a ride. "Come on in, don't be a stranger." As the song builds, so does the excitement. It feels like we're in for another masterpiece.

2. Hypergeek - And it comes. Croaking frogs accompany and proggy, on-top-of the beat intro that is pure glee. At almost exactly 1:00 we get a blast beat crash that then integrates in the previously introduced themes. This is going to be good.

3. Triumph - This song contains almost all of Devy's career in a single song, the first full composition on the album. It starts with a throbbing fuzz guitar and a naked vocal that follows a signature melody. The song builds perfectally, with a banjo!! Break, multiple themes, and climaxing in a solo by none other than Steve Vai, the guitar god that launched Devy's career. Interestingly, he is extremely restrained here, going for texture rather than flash. In fact, it's one of my favorite solos of Vai's career, and I've followed him long before I knew of Devy.

4. Babysong - a sing-song silly lullaby that serves its purpose as a relief in the intensity of the epic preceeding it. It features some nice Devy mega-tracking and melody. The second reprises some ideas from "Terria" and builds to an intense conclusion. A perfect album song.

5. Vampolka - A short humorous intro to the single that follows. Quirky but it works.

6. Vampira - Of all of Devy's hamming it up, this song is one of the few that's right on the edge of not working for me. The songwriting is very solid, the performance perfect, but the theme of the song is actually too straight to justify the mugging that Devin does. The video's ultra-camp shows just how cheesy it was intended to be. Solid fun, but not too memorable. It's here that I'm losing the ecstatic glow that had built during the first three songs.

7. Mental Tan - Another short transition piece, this time airy and atmospheric. The ending is almost orchestral.

8. Gaia - This is the poppy single from the album, following in the tradition of "Life" from Ocean Machine and "Christeen" from Infinity. It's a solid, pleasant listen and Devy's still playing it live now in 2010. Great bridge section, nice effects in the multi-track wash. It's not "Storm" or "Life" but it's better than "Traveller" and "The Fluke."

9. Pixillate - This is probably the highlight of the entire album. Opening with a raw bass riff and Devin moaning in a middle eastern tonality, the song slowly develops into an exotic grinder that is unique in the Devy catalog. Along with the Vai solo, this is the only place on Synchestra which I get the tingles I've come to expect from Devin Townsend albums. As hard as putting together a DT's greatest hits album would be, this would be on it.

10. Judgment - This song features some strong vocal performances, and the typical Devy intensity, but the song itself isn't that memorable. There's nothing wrong with it, but we've heard Devy do this many times before.

11. A Simple Lullaby - Unfortunately, more of the same. No lyrics, though vocals do act as one of the instruments. There are a few nice pieces of composition, (dramatic stops, a few composed lines) but the track is way overlong. Hate to use the word filler, but this is soundtrack music.

12. Sunset - This is another instrumental, much shorter, whose title fits it perfectly. A nice musical sketch that says what it needs to and moves on.

13. Notes from Africa - Starts with the best riff of the album, some snappy bass, and immediately my head starts bopping where I'd been nodding before. The song has a little melodic skip up and a background vocal riff that distinguish the song from all the others. There are odd time breaks, anthemic chants, a great send off.

My overall feeling is that this album needed a little fat trimming. Simply cutting tracks 10 and 11 would have left the album still at 50 minutes and a much tighter piece of work. I think that album would have been a masterpiece that would have left me salivating for more. As it is, I'm exhausted by the end, and lost attention a few times.

This album, like Accelerated Evolution before it, starts brilliantly and loses steam. But there are some brilliant moments and it never truly disappoints. Easy 4/5 star rating.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#335513) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 26, 2010

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I must admit I haven't heard a lot from Devin Townsend as yet. I have "Ocean Machine", "Terria", "Addicted" and this one. "Ziltoid" is on the way though. As others have mentioned this is a fairly upbeat album overall and I must admit i'd rather have more darkness and anger from Devin. Of course those kinds of albums are easy to find with his STRAPPING YOUNG LAD project. Still a pretty solid album album overall and well worth 4 stars in my book.

"Let It Roll" has this laid back guitar to start as reserved vocals join in. Drums after 2 minutes as the sound becomes fuller. I should mention that a lot of these tracks blend into one another. "Hypergeek" opens with more laid back guitar as frogs and a rooster can be heard in the backgound. Birds too. Haha. It all stops then it kicks in hard. "Triumph" starts to build after a minute. Some guest guitar from Steve Vai. Devin is screaming after 2 1/2 minutes. Piano before 3 1/2 minutes then it settles as it turns into a hoe-down mode then it kicks in again. "The Baby Song" is not the best track by a long shot. It's much better though after 2 1/2 minutes when it becomes more intense.

"Vampolka" is funny and uptempo with pulsating sounds. It's polka time ! "Vampira" kicks ass and is taking names. A great vocal performance too. "Mental Tan" opens with background synths that create atmosphere as keys join in and guitar. Spacey vocals here too. "Gaia" is a great tune with the heavy riffing as reserved vocals join in. Nice. A scream before 2 1/2 minutes signals an instrumental section. "Pixillate" is the longest track at almost 8 1/2 minutes. A killer intro really of bass and vocal expressions then it kicks in at a minute. "Judgment" is heavy as Devin comes screaming in before 2 minutes. It settles in after 4 minutes. "A Simple Lullaby" has this loud atmosphere then it gets heavier before 2 minutes. He's screaming 5 1/2 minutes in.

"Sunset" has vocals around a minute and piano too. Cool tune. "Notes From Africa" sounds amazing to start. Love the drum work and vocal melodies.Vocals come in screaming 2 1/2 minutes in and a minute later as well.Nature sounds come in around 5 1/2 minutes to the end after the music has stopped. "Sunshine And Happiness" is a bonus track that is an upbeat little rocker that sounds like a nod to eighties Metal. All in good fun.

A very good album in my opinion but so far "Ocean Machine" and "Terria" stand alone for me as his best.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#445976) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Latest members reviews

5 stars 9.5/10 All I can say is: Devin is a genius. With Synchestra Devin is back to his natural style that is heavy metal. After the fiasco that was Devlab for me I really wanted him to make the sound that was heard on albums like Biomech, Terria and Accelerated Evolution. I daresay he does that ... (read more)

Report this review (#832897) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, October 04, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If you don't know anything about Devin Townsend, all you need to know that he is the next Zappa. Their I said it. In fact I think he's better than Zappa. His guitar playing contains no errors, his procuction work is the best I'be ever heard, he is one of the greatest vocalists I have ever hea ... (read more)

Report this review (#288787) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Thursday, July 01, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars 4 out of 10... (2 stars) For something - anything in this album to grab you and make you listen. Unfortunately it never happens as none of the songs are real ear pleasers. My background on Devin is based off of three pieces of work - "Accelerated Evolution", "Terria" and "Ocean Machine". Thos ... (read more)

Report this review (#241475) | Posted by fant0mas | Friday, September 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This CD was my first real look into Devin Townsend. I had heard him on Sex & Religion many years before this and also on Ayreon but never really got around to getting into his original material. I'm pissed at myself for not listening sooner because Mr. Townsend is a great innovator in metal and ... (read more)

Report this review (#179912) | Posted by merrickyoung87 | Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Devin Townsend really is a remarkable man in the music business nowadays, not only has he created fantastic albums from scratch, but also produced many good albums. Synchestra is a beautiful album with its great melodies and remarkable production (way to go Dev!). It is full of great music full ... (read more)

Report this review (#117334) | Posted by Allu | Wednesday, April 04, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Guys,it's true he continually breaking conventions and setting the bar higher.... this album is definitely noteworthy within the boundaries of the broader definitions of our Progressive music. For the critics i would agree with many of your arguments, in addition it's worth aknowledging that t ... (read more)

Report this review (#95056) | Posted by | Thursday, October 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Not the most technical of most progressive of Devin's albmus, but an excellent album, with superb riffs and certainly very cohesive. Accoustic intro Let It Roll puts you just in the mood you have to be for Hypergeek - Triumph - Babysong, three very heavy songs with superb drumming, excellent ... (read more)

Report this review (#85967) | Posted by mono | Sunday, August 06, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Good album; a bit heavier than I like most of my prog. Triumph is one of the best songs I've ever heard though. Sounds from Africa and Sunshine and Happiness are awesome too. I'm not a fan of the "wall of sound" sound quality of the CD--not enough distinction between the highs and lows. St ... (read more)

Report this review (#82373) | Posted by Tang Daobo | Saturday, July 01, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Devin Townsend has, it seem, for ten years been struggling between metal and prog, as if there is no in-between, and occasionally stopping of for a comic album such as fake punk. The Devin Townsend Band alias seems to change that, and it takes the best bits of his hard rock and mixes them in with ... (read more)

Report this review (#79632) | Posted by | Sunday, May 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Synchestra" was the first Devin Townsend album I ever heard. I didn't expect to enjoy it, but I did. Frankly, it blew me away. I like to think of it as one long piece of music because it all flows together. Devin is quite original and may be a genius when it comes to music. The disc opens with a ... (read more)

Report this review (#77425) | Posted by ConfusedGenius | Sunday, May 07, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars few people can really be crowned geniuses. devin could. and synchestra (as much as all his other albums) is here to shout it. probably this is the most "progressive" record of the canadian, it has something really out of every world. there's a little return to the open green spaces of Terria, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#74558) | Posted by heavydrum | Monday, April 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well, having not enjoyed accelerated evolution not nearly as much as Ocean machine, Terria, or even Infinity i was a bit tenative to purchase this new installment to the Devy catologue. After reading so many rave reviews however, i decided to give it a chance and let me tell you, it was above ... (read more)

Report this review (#72434) | Posted by Mikeypoo | Monday, March 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Simply put, this album is the embodiment of brilliance. It really hasn't left my players since I've bought it. The sound of it sucks you in, you feel like in an incredibly bizarre movie or on your pick of psychedelic drug trips. I find it hard to describe to friends and fellow musicians. Most ... (read more)

Report this review (#71070) | Posted by | Saturday, March 04, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I've listened this album so many times in this month and now i think i'm ready to review it! First of all this album s quite disappointing to me! I have to say that Synchestra is the demonstration that Mr. Townsend is a good composer but unable to renew himself! Infact here there are some good ... (read more)

Report this review (#70809) | Posted by MorgothSunshine | Wednesday, March 01, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wowwwwwwww! This man never stops! And gets better and better.. Personally, I think "Synchestra" is not the best work of Devin but one thing is clear: THIS IS PURE MUSIC!- And thatīs all it matters. To the newbies to Devin, I think this album is a bit risky to start out (but if you can, ta ... (read more)

Report this review (#70522) | Posted by Petrucces | Sunday, February 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Devin has done it AGAIN. His 2nd Masterpiece. (Tierra is the other) What the Devin Townsend band is quite unique. They play atmosphereic metal with a mix of emotion of musical range. At times heavy and angry, at times soft and soothing, and at times quirky and humerous. Great transist ... (read more)

Report this review (#68776) | Posted by ProggerBro | Wednesday, February 08, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Indeed, Devin Townsend's Synchestra really is a worthy 5 stars album. I wasn't expecting that much from Devin Townsend this time, but he managed (once again) to surprise me. Everything works fine here (2 tiny little exceptions: first, the "Secret Track", which simply seems not to belong on ... (read more)

Report this review (#67935) | Posted by | Thursday, February 02, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This really is quite an incredible album. As always he creates a fantastic wall of sound, which despite the density of the mix never feel too overwhelming, each instrument easy to hear on its own. The first thing thay struck me about 'Synchestra' is how varied the tracks are. For example, ... (read more)

Report this review (#67650) | Posted by Degolas | Tuesday, January 31, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Synchestra is the most intricate, so far, of the albums from the Devin Townsend Band. With production quality similar to that of Terria or Ocean Machine, yet with the song writing quirkiness of Infinity. There is a distinct flow to this album, remaniscent of some of the 19th and 20th century ... (read more)

Report this review (#65455) | Posted by | Thursday, January 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It starts with 'Let it Roll'. A song depicting how you can often screw up in life, but just to 'let it roll'. It's starts an soothing acoustic riff, slowly building up with added synths and guitars to the song Hypergeek -essentially the second part of a long intro. Hypergeek is an instrument ... (read more)

Report this review (#63236) | Posted by | Thursday, January 05, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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