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DEVIN TOWNSEND

Experimental/Post Metal • Canada


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Devin Townsend biography
Devin Garrett Townsend - Born May 5, 1972 (New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada)

DEVIN TOWNSEND, possibly more widely known as the frontman for the extreme metal act STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, began creating solo albums in 1997.

Sometimes referred to as the 'Mad Scientist of Metal', TOWNSEND produces a wide variety of music. This ranges from soft ambience designed, as he has stated, to put the listener to sleep, to high levels of thrash and extreme metal reminiscent of SYL.
His works often feature a 'wall of sound', built by adding many layers of guitars and keyboards that are playing in unison or harmony. The end result is a number of carefully produced and mixed albums that favor high-end sound systems.

His first solo album, 'Ocean Machine: Biomech' (1997), was actually originally simply titled 'Biomech' and the band project labeled OCEAN MACHINE. However, on subsequent releases in most countries, the one-shot band name was incorporated into the title, and TOWNSEND's name was affixed to the record. Next came his first solo album proper, 1998's 'Infinity'. However, diagnosed with bipolar disorder and suffering with severe depression, TOWNSEND left the album only partly finished, filling in the song gaps with other demos. Rebounding from this struggle, he wrote 'Physicist' in 2000, creating a sort of pop-metal release featuring the members of his band STRAPPING YOUNG LAD. His 2001 project, 'Terria', features some of his most complicated and deep production, incorporating many sounds from nature into the recording, and stands as one of his most well-known and most critically acclaimed albums.

Photo by Eric Saide

His next solo project, THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND, began in 2003 with the release of 'Accelerated Evolution'. Adding drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen, guitarist Brian Waddell, bassist Mike Young, and keyboardist Dave Young, TOWNSEND decided to start releasing albums once more with a full-time band rather than merely studio musicians. Taking a dramatic turn from the style of 'Terria', TOWNSEND adopted a much more band-oriented feel, reducing the amount of atmosphere and increasing the level of accessibility of the music.

As a side project during this time, TOWNSEND stitched together the fierce ambient 'Devlab' album in 2004. The line-up of THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND continued for several years as a functional touring outfit. The collaboration concluded with the 2006 album 'Synchestra' - though this rele...
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EmpathEmpath
Century Media 2019
$10.99
$17.36 (used)
Ocean MachineOcean Machine
Insideout Music 2010
$13.69
$12.49 (used)
Ziltoid the OmniscientZiltoid the Omniscient
Inside Out 2010
$9.69
$14.03 (used)

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DEVIN TOWNSEND discography


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DEVIN TOWNSEND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 318 ratings
Ocean Machine - Biomech
1997
3.69 | 222 ratings
Infinity
1998
2.92 | 163 ratings
Physicist
2000
4.19 | 652 ratings
Terria
2001
3.90 | 247 ratings
The Devin Townsend Band: Accelerated Evolution
2003
2.15 | 92 ratings
Devlab
2004
4.07 | 349 ratings
The Devin Townsend Band: Synchestra
2006
2.47 | 88 ratings
The Hummer
2006
4.13 | 582 ratings
Ziltoid The Omniscient
2007
3.84 | 318 ratings
Devin Townsend Project: Ki
2009
3.82 | 339 ratings
Devin Townsend Project: Addicted
2009
3.93 | 421 ratings
Devin Townsend Project: Deconstruction
2011
3.78 | 344 ratings
Devin Townsend Project: Ghost
2011
3.94 | 349 ratings
Devin Townsend Project: Epicloud
2012
3.90 | 193 ratings
Casualties Of Cool: Casualties Of Cool
2014
3.75 | 152 ratings

2014
3.65 | 126 ratings
Devin Townsend Project: Transcendence
2016
3.98 | 227 ratings
Empath
2019

DEVIN TOWNSEND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.58 | 19 ratings
Official Bootleg
1999
3.56 | 32 ratings
Unplugged
2011
4.46 | 53 ratings
By A Thread - Live In London 2011
2012
4.68 | 63 ratings
The Retinal Circus
2013
4.40 | 33 ratings
Ziltoid: Live At The Royal Albert Hall
2015
3.03 | 14 ratings
Ocean Machine - Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre
2018

DEVIN TOWNSEND Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.58 | 45 ratings
The Retinal Circus
2013
4.04 | 29 ratings
Ziltoid: Live At The Royal Albert Hall
2015

DEVIN TOWNSEND Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.38 | 21 ratings
Ass Sordid Demos I
1999
3.36 | 14 ratings
Ass Sordid Demos II
2004
4.64 | 25 ratings
Contain Us
2011
5.00 | 2 ratings
Discovering Devin Townsend
2016

DEVIN TOWNSEND Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.58 | 40 ratings
Christeen + 4 Demos
1999
3.17 | 6 ratings
Iceland
2016

DEVIN TOWNSEND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Empath by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.98 | 227 ratings

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Empath
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by uribreitman

4 stars Amazing production values, some very nice work with choir and orchestra - but still feels like a solo artist trapped in his basement and having too much fun with crazy stuff. Townsend's a genius, but he needs someone to balance his bipolar temper. Some parts are divine, some parts just obnoxious. You can really enjoy his humor, his riffs and his unpredictable transitions - but this mess-of-sound doesn't completely gel into the majestic masterpiece Devin was probably aiming for. So you can clearly enjoy 40-60% percent of this product, but almost nobody can really come to grips with what Devin is throwing at us all the time. The biggest concern is the wacky atmosphere, drowning any attempt to get serious about "Empath". You never know if it's all just a big, fat joke with huge reverb. Devin jumps from Opera to his kitchen to a mainstream guitar riff to some other planet. And the final result is perplexing - fun but not pure fun. You want to get absorbed in every track, but Devin's not willing to play ball with stylistic conventions. In the end, this is a giant theme park of ideas - some of them monstrously original, some of them childish. So I'm not sorry for spending time on this generous CD, but I can't recommend it to everyone. It's just too quaint to be emotionally logical.
 Devlab by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.15 | 92 ratings

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Devlab
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

2 stars When Devin Townsend released his Devin Townsend Band album "Accelerated Evolution" in 2003, he gave us a taste of what was to come in the following year with a bonus disc that was included with the Special Edition version of that album, that was called "Project EKO". It was a 3 track bonus EP that had a very ambient feel to it, very much more experimental, and so very much unlike anything Townsend had ever produced before. Well, this experimental, ambient side of Devin was not the end for that particular personality, because his next album was called "Devlab" and would continue with that strange, experimental side, and it was released in 2004. So, how would those fans of the Heavy Devy sound react to this? Not very well. In fact, many of them had never heard music like this, and made it obvious that they were not happy. But, Devin has his experimental side, and he loves to explore all types of music, so, it wouldn't be the last time he would be so adventurous.

On "Devlab", Townsend would be in charge of writing, producing, and "all that", with an occasional, unnamed guest showing up to help out. This album would have 15 unnamed tracks of varying lengths running for just over 1 minute to over 10 minutes, and overall running for almost 66 minutes. It was quite a risk, but this was what Devin would call his "heavy metal ambience" sound.

Devin's strange sense of humor would start off the album with the first track being a short, introductory track where he says "I'm going to melt you guys" in several varying speeds with layers of happy, crazy music playing behind him. From there, the album continues through a collage of noises, loops, odd recordings, manipulated sounds from various sources and the like, it's basically Devin playing around with recording equipment and synthesizers. There is no melodic quality to any of it, but it is a study in sound manipulation and such. There are some very noisy, chaotic passages and some very ambient and minimal sections. Think of The Beatles "Revolution #9" or Frank Zappa's "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet" except that this time, it goes on for over an hour. Yet, there is something intriguing about it all, but it is very difficult to listen to all the way through. The best parts are the ambient sections, the noisy bits are just too harsh and annoying.

Townsend is at his best when he sticks with the more traditional form of music, whether it be heavy metal or country music, he is almost always in top form. But this noise just doesn't have much in the way of entertainment value or listen-ability. I can't even consider this an avant-garde classic or an experimental break through, because, in the end, I am sorry to say, that there just isn't enough salvageable material here to even make a single out of. This one is only for completionists or fans, and that's about it.

 Devin Townsend Project: Deconstruction by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.93 | 421 ratings

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Devin Townsend Project: Deconstruction
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Deconstruction is Devin Townsend's 13th studio album, and the third of the Devin Townsend Project series. It was released at the same time as the fourth DTP album 'Ghost'. Deconstruction was to be the heavy side of DT while Ghost was the softer side. However, both albums show DT's excellent side as far as his ability to make powerful, emotional and intense music whichever side he presents. He always gives it his all.

Deconstruction is a concept album about a man trying to discover the reality of reality. He goes on a journey and meets the devil who shows him the secrets of the universe, but when he is tempted with a hamburger, he can't eat it because he is a vegetarian. The music on this album is largely chaotic, and it features his usual wall of sound style, but not in a unrelenting way, but more in an 'orchestral' way, which is DT's way of making top level heavy metal music. But having simply a loud and heavy album wasn't enough in this case, he had to add in the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, and enlisted the vocal power of Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth, Tommy Giles Rogers from 'Between the Buried and Me', Greg Puciato from The Dillinger Escape Plan, Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah (who also provides a guitar solo) and many more extreme metal guests.

The album starts off soft and safe sounding in 'Praise the Lowered', and goes that way for a while before the heaviness gets poured on suddenly. So, it's a great start, but then the emotion, the driving sound of intensity in DT's music goes full bore in the excellent track 'Stand' which is a perfect example of Devin's level of intensity and creative force. And as usual, by this time, I am ready to shout and bang my head right along with him. It's not just the ingenuity of Devin's music that I love, but it is the full power and intensity and also the quality of his music which almost always seems to hit level 11 each time. But, if you don't like growling, let it be known that he growls and shouts here like he hasn't before in DT albums, but the music is more like the over the top metal sound of Strapping Young Lad. Even through all of this heaviness and chaotic sound, you still get his smart use of dynamics. There are still plenty of softer sections, but in this album, it is driven by intensity and power. And man alive do I love it. Plus, it is still heavily progressive, so its got everything that makes DT amazing.

'Juular' goes way over the top in that chaotic heavy metal orchestra style, which even then features a melodic vocal even with the screaming and growling added in. But this track only sets you up for the very progressive and extreme sound of 'Planet of the Apes' which has enormous power from guitar layers, but still manages to fit in the anchoring sound of the synth and even a choral section to give the whole thing another level of drama. There is so much going on in this song that it will take you a while to dissect it and pick up on all of the things going on here. After this 11 minute track of sensory overload, you should know that DT is not taking prisoners, but is out for everyone's throat as he demonstrates what extreme means when it comes to progressive heaviness.

If your ears aren't bleeding after 'Sumeria' which features both Joe Duplantier from Gojira and Paul Masvidal from Death and Cynic, then you have already turned the album off and are only listening to the previous tracks still echoing in the deep recesses of your mind. Featuring the rapid tech delivery on drums from Dirk Verbeuren of Megadeath, this is one of the most intense things DT has every done, and that is saying a lot. But a softer ending leads into a soft beginning of the 16 minute 'The Mighty Masturbator'. After an eerie lullaby of sorts, the track takes off with the hellish chorus and almost operatic vocals from Devin and Greg Puciato. Again, chaos and extremes rule with progressive complexity as more over-the- top sound continues. The sarcastic comedy of DT shows through with some reckless abandon at this point. And even among all of this, DT throws in some crazy surprises all along the way. DT fans will notice the use of various themes on occasion through the album also, like the one at the last part of 'The Mighty Masturbator'.

I must admit, that all of this extremity is hard to take in the first several listens, and this is one DT album that takes some time to grow on the listener. The amount of production, the sheer use of layering and orchestral craziness tends to wear on you until you get more familiar with the music. Personally, I think the best DT albums are the ones with the most variety on them, but even some people think they are too over the top. For me, DT is one of the best of the current progressive artists out there. But I would warn most new listeners to stay away from this album and come back to it later, try to access DT's music through some of his other albums like 'Terria', 'Empath' or 'Epicloud' first, unless you are use to listening to extreme metal. This is definitely one of DT's heaviest solo albums, but I still love it.

 Empath by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.98 | 227 ratings

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Empath
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 20 playthroughs and I still can't pick out Chad Kroeger's voice. It's probably just hidden in all the friggin' overdubs and noise saturation there, as usual.

As usual, and yet, not quite. Dropping the "project" moniker for this release, Townsend basically recorded this album as a symbolic two middle fingers to those of us "critics" complaining about his style of over saturation in his music, so he decided to sprinkle it in this album with a heavy dose of schizophrenia and growling.

Now "hevy Devy" is known for being very broad texture-wise due to his bipolar disorder, but never have we truly heard it coalescing together in one album. Indeed, listening to this album from a distance, it sounds disjointed somehow, but each song is composed with a purpose and structure. "Castaway" begins in a tropical matter, with echoes of Hawaii and steel drums before a choir triumphantly brings in "Genesis" with a roar. Right off the bat Townsend refers to his mind and his "fantasy world", with 8-bit samples and soaring soundtrack strings. The chords here down mesh and mush like they did in Transcendence. In essence, those damn near put me to sleep half the time. No, here the chords are jagged and rough. Right away, you realize this is an album you have to sit down and listen to. Right away, you realize Townsend is telling a story and he's going to drag you along for the ride, whether you [%*!#]ing like it or not. With a chorus only repeated once, "Genesis" is an anthem of Townsend's defiance to conform to critic's expectations, an emotion that's carried over into "Spirits Will Collide".

"Evermore" is more a balancing act of graceful waltz-like tempos, triumphant choruses, crunching power chords and a sprinkling of snappy castanets. There's a bit more variety here to sink your teeth into, but so far, so normal. These songs feel like an overture that's long overstayed its welcome, not spazzy enough to be different, but not quite catchy enough like some offerings from Transcendence.

Only when you get to "Sprite" does it start to get interesting. What starts off with what sounds like a fable or poem begins with a very soft and innocent fairytale soundscape. Some fancy drumwork flits and flutters between the strings and keys in the background, like fairies dancing betwixt the moonlight sky (or something like that). It all sounds very trivial and predictable. That's why Townsend lets it marinate for a good two minutes before Elliot Desgagnés (of Beneath the Massacre fame, FYI) barges in growling some sort of beast from between the 6th or 7th ring of hell, presumably playing the "monster" in this peaceful fairy tale (every fairy tale's gotta have a monster).

Then we get to "Hear Me", which is ironic, since it immediately starts with screaming and blastbeats. Yes, I'm pretty sure we can hear that Devin. To me, this is Townsend at his most ferocious since Deconstructed. This is definitely the loudest song off the album, and yet there's something which I can't hear, as previously aforementioned at the start of this review (so if anyone knows exactly when Kroeger [of Nickelback fame, of course] is singing, please feel free to let me know, my ears strain to pick out anything remotely resembling his voice).

Now Townsend's bipolarity are showing in full force. Transition from that to the intro of the classically waltz-like "Why?". This is something I imagine Townsend skipping through a field of roses (and potentially some corpses) in some Wizard of Oz musical type thing. Sprinkle some dissonance here and there and some crunching chords and Desgagnes growling and you're good. Honestly, this is one of the highlights for me. The styles being displayed are outstanding, and the conjunctions never feel jagged or abrupt. They're more akin to surprises a la Haydn's symphony.

So let's jump to a more indie folk pop sound to kick off "Borderlands" (one of my favorite shooters by the by), but now he's going off the rails, some Zappa-esque schitzo arpeggios, atmospheric soundscapes a la Ghost, capped off with more triumphant choruses continuing into the choral, operatic "Requiem". We cap off the album proper with the juggernaut of the lot, "Singularity" which takes its time to build up in that happy, symphonic theme that's been made prevelant since the beginning, but it's interspersed with dark electronic bridges, furious blastbeats (and screaming, obviously), another atmospheric break, some scary guy talking in a robotic voice and what appears to be a pots and pans solo. There are definitely isolated sections with smatterings of spastic guitar licks a la Zappa or Between the Buried and Me, but personally, I wish there was a bit more showmanship, some more solos and showcases and whatnot. The end is also a bit too abrupt for my taste, but the buildup with about 4 minutes left sort of emphasizes the point.

The second disc contains demos, a la Transcendence (aka songs that didn't quite make the final cut). They all have the same sort of theme so I'm not going to bother reviewing each one. Favorites would be "The Waiting Kind", "Methuselah", "Middle Aged Man" and "Summer".

All in all, it's refreshing to see Townsend get a bit of psycho back in his playing. It's a bit of refreshment to liven up an otherwise predictable sound, especially with what he's capable of and what he's produced in the past. One of his finest albums in quite a while, with perhaps a slight knock at the lack of sing-a-long-ability such as tracks of Epicloud or Infinity. Nonetheless, it's a bombastic return to form, and we all have Chad Kroeger to thank for motivating him to stick to his guns and buck the trend.

God, who would've known we'd be thanking Nickelback for indirectly producing a prog gem. You can't make this [&*!#] up.

4.5/5

 Empath by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.98 | 227 ratings

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Empath
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Duke of Prunes

5 stars When i was about to hear this album for the first time, i was pretty sceptical about it mainly because i wasn't a big fan of Devin's work even though i enjoyed some of his stuff. But, this LP completely changed my view towards his music and it eventually became one of my all-time favourites. First, i have to say this is definitely not an easy listen. Like most prog, it requires a reasonable amount of spins and a certain dedication to fully understand and enjoy the record. But, it's worth, believe me.

The album starts with the laid-back and relaxing "Castaway", with a soaring guitar, accompained by mood settling beach noises. You really feel "Cast away", while listening. Near the end, The Elektra Women's Choir joins, instilling pleasent celestial feel. The track flows into the absolute contender for the craziest, most bizarre track of 2019 - "Genesis". If someone wants you to explain what Devin is all about, just play them this one. It encompasses the adventurous and unorthodox nature of his music completely. The choir fades out leading to Devin's powerful, roaring atop of a mountain, clean vocals. The overall feel is his usual epic progressive metal, with many interweaving layers. The "chorus" here is heavy, full of blast beats, reminiscent of Dimmu Borgir. A slight musical reference to the beginning of "March of the poozers", but sped up occurs, followed by another wave of epic chorus vocals, sounding genuinely uplifting. This is noticeable tendency in the latest Devin albums - his compositions tend to be rather uplifting, as opposed to his earlier material. And, purely in the mad scientist of metal nature, you can hear integrated cat's meowing, right before a wicked syncopated heavy, abysmal riff, serving as a bridge. After all that, we are taken to the 80's in some form of metal disco, just proving that Townsend has no limits. Absolute monster of a track.

What i find to be appealing to non-fans of HevyDevy, is that in this album we hear less of his regular "wall of sound" recording technique, while still maintaining the heaviness. The next track provides some form of respite from the madness. "Spirits Will Collide" starts with the women choir above a middle-paced symphonic power metal background. Devin's vocals here are one of the most uplifting ones he has ever done and i think it will appeal to more people, not familiar with his work. Without a doubt easiest digestible track of the album.

"Evermore" has similar construction as "Genesis", but this time with an underlying symphonic and orchestral feel. Here, the wall of sound is reduced to minimum and we can actually occasionally hear clean jazzy parts, interfering with the overall epic heavy sound. I'm just going to say that the chorus here is one of the most ear-worming things ever, seriously. This track feels like a space voyage that ends in a wormhole. Yes. I had to repeat it over and over again, it's that satisfying.

The next song, "Sprite" has this subtle, airy, alternative feel to it. The track has strong emotional impact due to its existential nature - Devin delivers really poignant-driven vocals, almost having an operatic tinge. Beneath the structure of the composition there are deeply igrained elevating keyboard layers creating incredible emotional consonance. Sublime piece of music.

Now, "Hear me" is the blast beat festival, balm for the soul of every extreme metal fan. Listening closely, behind the primal anger of the music, there is actually very strong musical line, it's not just chaotic notes. The next track - "Why?", comes completely logical after the previous display of extremism. Probably my favourite composition, in terms of the sheer power of Devin's voice. Here, he goes operatic off the charts. If this doesn't evoke pathos in you, then i don't know what will, really.

Next, we have the 11 minute "Borderlands", starting off with soft, alternative rock vocals, leading us to a Hollywood-inspired humorous chorus section, reminding us of Zappa. And then, we come to probably the most memorable riff of the album, entwined with many different vocal lines, again very musical and Zappa-esque. Everything stops rather abruptly, into an ambient sonicscape, filled with Devin's soothing vocals, that serves as a prolong build-up for the final reprise of the main riff and vocal section. It all then ends with another relaxing ambient part. As a connection between the two epics, we have "Requiem" - orchestral/choral score, worthy of replacing any acknowledged soundtrack for a space-themed movie. Frisson inducing, definitely.

The last piece - "Singularity", immerses us with a somewhat Gilmour-esque guitar opening, progressing into a part that is essentially filled with quiet, "lonely" vocals, and an acousitc guitar. Later on, Devin is in-your-face with his overly emotional and powerful operatic-styled vocals, sustained by the cosmic, orchestra-imitating wall of sound. It's crazy how Townsend changes the mood completely in the span of just seconds, yet it feels smooth and organic. The middle section is dominated by blastbeats and heavy vocals, reminiscent of "Hear me". As in "Borderlands", we arrive at "purification station" for our ears, expressed by demulcent chorus and a subtle keyboard lines underneath, after all the intensity and raw force. The part slowly progresses into brief example of "Musique concrete", while still having a musical line running in the background. Towards the end we are graced with proggy uneven rhythms, this time uplifting clean vocals, and the magical guitar of Steve Vai himself, the musical father of Devin Townsend, who now carries the genius of Zappa, in an alternate way.

I am seriously concerned that the mad genius cannot top this album, ever. The juxtaposition of these varied compositions and the seemingly nonsensical interweaved musical ideas, "lacking" a "concept" resonates immensely with a musical-perdurantist perspective, something Zappa originated in. And with "Empath", Devin ultimately proved the world to be the modern-day Zappa - able to accumulate a wide pallette of emotions into something chaotic at first glance, yet perfectly systematic when you delve into it.

 Empath by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.98 | 227 ratings

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Empath
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars I have to admit that I look forward to every Devin Townsend album despite the fact that I rarely come away wanting to hear them again. I just appreciate this guy's unique genius and unpredictable chameleonic eclecticism. What a talented guy!

1. "Castaway" (2:29) spacious echo guitar--to Hawaii and beyond! With the joinder of the angelic choir for the final minute, this must be suggesting that we have arrived at Heaven. (4.5/5)

2. "Genesis" (6:06) where this song begins and "Castaway" ends is unsure, but I'm filled with a kind of ecstatic religiosity as I listen to this (aren't I?). Weird timelessness to this: it has moments that seem to span all of my six decades. You sure you weren't channeling EDGE OF SANITY (Crimson) when you created this, Devy? (8.25/10)

3. "Spirits will Collide" (4:40) This is the first song I heard from Empath. My reaction was similar to the one I had when I first heard Kirk Franklin's "Stomp!" and The Nu Nation Project in the late 1990s: someone taking church/religious music into a (refreshing) new direction. A church choir! (Is Devvy a Christian rocker?) With hard-drivin' rock/metal. I'm also reminded of the Christian thrash metal song from the 1990s in which the lead singer screamed one word, "repent," the entire song. This is not those songs or artists, but the one-track, one-dimensionality of this song does remind me of songs like those. (7.75/10)

4. "Evermore" (5:30) contains some very interesting dynamics, styles, transitions, and messages but, to these ears/mind it's too disjointed and all-over the place; there's not enough coherence and directness here to make a point. (7.75/10)

5. "Sprite" (6:37) Devy's contribution to fairy tales (in the UTOPIA "Singring" tradition). Dull and one-dimensional for over half of the song, then, after it goes church-religious, too weird (though I do like the Tangerine Dream-like fairy-travels bit in sixth minute). Devy's really stretching himself with the Celtic sprite in the beginning to the Gollum finish. (8.25/10)

6. "Hear Me" (6:30) sounds like cartoon music. Until the women's choir joins in. Then Devy takes over and it really is loony toons. The chorus is decent. The group skill to keep in time is insane (unless it's all auto-synced.) The song actually works because of the contrast of extremes. (8.75/10)

7. "Why?" (4:59) opens like a BBC theme song. Boy, Devy has a gorgeous voice. I truly wish he would sing more like this--give Josh Grobin and Roy Orbison a run for their money. LOL! (9/10)

8. "Borderlands" (11:03) a wild hodge-podge of styles melded into "one" while, thankfully, staying away from the freneticism of thrash/doom styles. I LOVe the centre section (ending with "it's tragic, it's love"). (18/20)

9. "Requiem" (2:47) an interlude into heavenly clouds and eternal light. Again, this talented dude could compose music for any genre he likes! GORGEOUS cinematic choir piece! (5/5)

10. "Singularity" (23:33) an excellent song with great movement, great stylistic shifts and development, brilliant use of his choir and, believe it or not, less thrash metal walls of sound than I'm used to hearing on a Devin song. My one beef with this (and many of Devvy's songs) is that we get sensitive, angelic pre-pubescent- and Josh Grobin-like vocals alternated with Ziltoid growls, doom metal guitars, and machine gun bass drumming: Is Devy all tongue-in-cheek--is he's just laughing as he makes this music and laughing at us for taking it seriously? Nice to hear him shredding in refreshing ways in the "Silicon Scientists" section. Nice to hear the uplifting feel and message of the final "Here Comes the Sun" section. (45.5/50): - Part 1 - Adrift (4.75/5) - Part 2 - I Am I (5/5) - Part 3 - There Be Monsters (9/10) - Part 4 - Curious Gods (8/10) - Part 5 - Silicon Scientists (9.75/10) - Part 6 - Here Comes the Sun (9/10)

Total Time 74:08

Devin Townsend is a genius: he is uber-creative, mega-talented, warped, and totally unique. It this is an album that I'll want to revisit. I like it!

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.

 The Devin Townsend Band: Synchestra by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.07 | 349 ratings

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The Devin Townsend Band: Synchestra
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars There are only two albums that were released under Devin's moniker 'The Devin Townsend Band', those were 'Accelerated Evolution' (released in 2003) and this album 'Synchestra' (released in 2006). I'm not sure the reasoning behind Devin deciding to use this moniker, but I have a few theories. As far as Devin's solo albums released during this period, he was entering an experimental, ambient and electronic stage with his release of 'Devlab' and 'The Hummer'. Fans weren't really sure what he was doing with these solo albums and he had mixed reactions from his fans. So, in order to distinguish his experimental side from his heavier side, he may have decided to use 'The Devin Townsend Band' to help guide his fans to his more usual style and let them know that not everything he does was going to be experimental. Another theory is that he used the same line-up in both DTB albums.

'Synchestra' was sandwiched between the experimental, ambient albums. The other DTB project, 'Accelerated Evolution' was more listener friendly than the usual DT solo albums that had come before, and, even though it was still a great album, it didn't have as much of a progressive edge as the previous albums and wasn't quite as heavy. This album, at least in the beginning, seems to be following that same path as it starts with the very mellow 'Let it Roll' with an acoustic guitar and lovely melody sung by Devin. As it continues, an threatening drone comes up from underneath the acoustics, and for a short time, the band kicks in so as to not totally shock you for 'Hypergeek'. Once again, you get another short track, with more acoustic guitars and an almost pastoral feel. Some nice vocal effects come in, but the track suddenly goes on a complete left turn at the minute mark as the wall of sound, Devin's emotional yelling, heavy guitar and synths take over. But don't despair, as is usual with DT's music, it's heavy and thick, but you can hear everything.

'Triumph' flows from that previous track with a tense guitar churning and Devin's vocals that stir up excitement for what is coming. Of course, things get emotional and strong as the passion in his vocals and music increase. His vocals are mostly clean, but he still has bursts of anger that come through. The song isn't all thick and heavy however, as it has many lighter sections and the instrumentation features a lot of keyboard and synth to help lighten things up. And it is very progressive, so there are all kinds of surprises, fun and excellent music here. With all of these changes in tone, meter and sound, everything just flows together so well. You hear so many other bands try this and things just end up sounding choppy, but with Devon, it is so smooth, almost like an orchestra. To top it all off, you get a guitar solo from Steve Vai on this one too. 'Baby Song' has some sarcastic lyrics and a heavy 6 / 8 rhythm. As it continues, it gets more complex and heavier. Again, meters change as it goes on and settles in to different moods and such, but once it gets heavy, it pretty much stays there.

Three shorter songs follow. 'Vampolka' is a polka sounding track, tubas and organ included. This flows into 'Vampira' which starts off with a heavy guitar riff and Devin's frantic vocals. This has a more accessible sound to it with a very catchy melody and theme. There is a bit more screaming and yelling here too, but I love Devin's emotion that he puts behind it. 'Mental Tan' works as a cooling off track after the last crazy rocker. It has a nice, floating feel to it with the melodic guitar and supporting keys and wordless vocals. This leads into 'Gaia' with a sudden increase in intensity and a track driven by a heavy guitar riff and a fast tempo, but with clean vocals despite the heaviness of the track, but with those bursts of emotion. This one is a more straightforward rocker, but great nonetheless.

'Pixilate' starts off with a heavy bass line and middle East inspired vocals. The drums come in and the music continues to churn along. It gets heavier and more orchestral feeling as it goes on, even though the instruments are still your standard rock instruments. DT's wall of sound just has that orchestral quality to it. Deborah Tyzio adds her vocals to this track to contrast some of Devon's emotional and angry vocals that pop up from time to time. Things calm a bit in the middle as that mid-East theme comes back into play. A nice synth solo builds up the intensity again. 'Judgement' starts off as a softer track, but is underlayed by the heavy churning guitar that becomes more prominent, and then Devon's yelling/screaming comes out more on this track than the previous ones on this album. This one gets quite thick and heavy as it continues with a few places where the wall breaks down a bit. You feel like you are buried by a flood of music and emotion. This flows into 'A Simple Lullaby'. This track utilizes layers of guitars to create a melodic wall which is underlayed by what seem like crowd noises. After a while, the drums come in with the guitar laden melody. The band 'Blue Oyster Cult' used to talk about an orchestra of guitars, but this is the sound that I always imagined an orchestra of guitars would make. Vocals come in later, but they are down deep in the wall of sound and just become part of the overall musical effect. The song might be a simple lullaby and in theme, it might be a lullaby, but it is quite loud with all of these layers of sound.

'Sunrise' is a more basic sound, the wall of sound stripped away and a nice melodic guitar line with plenty of keys and this song flows quite nicely. It is a short intermezzo and then another heavy riff brings in the track 'Notes from Africa'. This one features a funky bass behind the other layers of sound. Regular vocals finally come back for the first time since 'Judgement' and the sound is a bit more straightforward for this one, but it is once again a very catchy rhythm and memorable melody. The song is driven by contrasting vocal layers later. The music fades off at 5 minutes and you are left with peaceful sounds of water and birds. The last track is hidden behind this track and is called 'Sunshine and Happiness' with vocals by guitarist Brian Waddell and keyboardist Dave Young. It's a nice surprise and a fun rocking track, which could have worked well as a single, short and fun.

This album is another great DT album with a lot of styles that have been give the Devon Townsend treatment. It may be just a tad more accessible than some of his albums, at least that's what they say, but I find it just as satisfying and great as most of his other albums. The overall feel is heavy, but it is definitely Devin, with lots of emotion, surprises and stylistic changes throughout. It's another great effort from Townsend and in the end, that is a wonderful thing.

 Empath by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.98 | 227 ratings

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Empath
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by tempest_77

5 stars Devin Townsend's newest release is truly a work of art. From the chill-out feel of the opening track to the epic closer, it's a wild journey of metal, choral arrangements, and all around excellent progressive rock. Some of his most excellent ambient moments since 2001's Terria are on this album, especially the wonderful, albeit brief, "Requiem" track separating the two longer songs on the album. The first full song, "Genesis", is one of the strongest songs on the album, and it serves as sort of an overture to the rest of the album. Other highlights include the groovy track "Hear Me", the wonderful symphonic "Why?", and of course the two longer songs on the album, "Borderlands" and "Singularity". "Borderlands" has a great opening into a dramatic heavy section with some awesome synthesizers throughout the track. "Singularity" is a 23 minute, multi-part epic, that shifts wonderfully between smooth ambient sections, intense heavy sections, and more relaxed sections reminiscent of Porcupine Tree on Lightbulb Sun or Stupid Dream. The album as a whole, of course, utilizes the "wall of sound" technique that Townsend often incorporates, but its lighter moments are a wonderful relief for listeners who usually find the technique to be a bit much. All in all, Empath is sure to be one of the best albums of this year.
 Terria by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.19 | 652 ratings

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Terria
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

5 stars Devin Townsend's fourth album "Terria" has been considered by many his masterpiece, and you can read all the reasons why in some of the reviews on this site. I completely agree that this is a masterpiece, but being one of Townsend's stalwart fans, it is just one of many of his masterpieces. However, I started exploring his music with this album, and I would recommend it as one of many starting points for others also. After hearing the extreme emotion, heaviness and beauty of this album, if you don't get it, then there probably isn't much of a point to explore further. But, if you love it, then you will definitely be inclined to listen to more.

No one expresses himself like Devin does. His music is heavy, usually described as a wall of sound, which is a good way to explain it. But that sound is full of beauty and emotion, it's just that it is expressed so loudly sometimes, and to me it is hard to do that with the power that Devin does and still make the music so amazing. There are plenty of great tracks here, but I tend to direct people to a few n particular, namely "Earth Day" which is an extreme song about recycling and birthdays and everything. This song is even more personal to me because I can consider it an anthem that Devin wrote about me since my birthday falls on Earth Day. Ok, so maybe it wasn't about me, but it gives me this perceived connection to DT. On the other end of the spectrum, there is the beautiful track "Deep Peace" which is so wonderfully atmospheric and immersive, and that guitar solo in the middle is to die for.

It's not just his extreme and emotional approach to music that I love, but it is his unique sound and the way he orchestrates everything to sound so much like a rock and roll symphony. I also love his powerful vocals, and yes he goes into screaming territory, but he does it right with emotion. On this album, everything has such an epic feel to it, like every note and every passage is important and Devin treats it that way. Devin wanted to make this album his tribute to his country Canada, and the music here conveys the love he has for it. It is an album that comes from his heart and to me, that is very apparent in the music here, everything so carefully crafted into powerful songs that are oftentimes very very loud, but also extremely beautiful and emotional. That is why I have no qualms giving this 5 stars, but also why I consider it one of my personal favorite and rare 6 star perfect albums. My words can't give it the justice it deserves, listen to it and see if it touches you like it touches many other fans out there.

 Empath by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.98 | 227 ratings

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Empath
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

5 stars Devin Townsend just keeps on going and he keeps on releasing amazing albums. "Empath", released in March of 2019, continues his amazing legacy, and fans will not be disappointed. But how do we get the world to listen to this genius of progressive metal? It's true that his extremely emotional vocals and his wall of sound technique doesn't fit everyone's tastes, but man, are these people missing some great music. Many of the tracks feature the "Elektra Women's Choir" which give a really amazing feel to the tracks they are involved in, and make this music even more uplifting.

Leading out with a introductory track, "Castaway" is pretty amazing and set the stage for what is to come. It is a lovely build with a full choir singing at the end that brings it into the next track "Genesis". Then, Bam! Devin is in your face with some of his heaviest vocals and music, but don't worry, even in this first track, there is so much dynamic and variant sound. Che Aimee Dorval, who has worked extensively with Devin in the past, guests on this track, and this is one example of the many tracks that feature multiple drummers (at least 3 in this track). The overall feel of the track is progressive metal, but there are so many changes and surprises around each corner, the choir continues, cats meowing, cows mooing, seagulls screeching, and it all somehow fits together seamlessly. "Spirits will Collide" continues with that uplifting power metal giving breaks in the wall of sound for when the choir sings alone, but bringing it back when Devin joins in. At this risk of sounding sappy, this emotional heaviness can bring one to tears.

Not being one to stand too long in any certain subgenre, Devin ventures into a more symphonic sound in "Evermore" without completely losing the wall so sound feel, but incorporating quieter sections with some great synth work. Devin has a way of turning his heavy music into something that sounds like a complex rock orchestra, and this is very apparent in this track. In "Sprite", which features a strange reading, Devin resorts to his head voice giving it a more airy feel, and the music itself is a more carefree feel, lighter and playful, yet quite complex, as you should expect. But, as with most of his music, there is something lurking underneath it all. Everything bursts into crazy rapid fire notes when we go into the next track "Hold On". Anneke Van Giersbergen, another DT regular guests on vocals along with Chad Kroeger from "Nickelback", though I can't quite pick him out in this crazy music. This track is emotional like the rest, but in a no-holds-barred kind of way, as it is more extreme and loud. But it's still amazing! Yes, there is growling in there, but it only elevates the power of it all. And Devin's vocals are at their extreme on this one too.

"Why?" is the crazy musicianship of Townsend at it's best. This one sounds heavily orchestrated and sounds very Disney-like, complete with birds singing on Devin's shoulders. It might sound corny, but that is why Devin is so damn good at this, because it is just as awesome as everything else on this album. The choir only helps to make this even more believable. The power of Devin's voice becomes almost operatic. "Borderlands" follows and this time starts with a reggae feel, which later becomes complex and then a nice, heavy metal feel soon after. This 11 minutes track is wonderfully progressive and flows so well for a song that goes just about everywhere in musicality and style. If there is one song that demonstrates all of Devin's genius, his penchant for effective use of dynamics, and the many styles that he has touched on in his career, this would be that song. It is a tour de force of his music, even becoming blissfully soft and pensive for several minutes in the middle of the track and then coming out of that mood with the choir leading him along seemingly saying "Don't be sad Devin, lets go play some more". He does for a while, but the track finally ends in an ambient way. This flows into the beautifully constructed "Requiem" which utilizes the choir and is quite orchestral.

As if this isn't enough, Devin puts a 23 minute suite at the end of the album. "Singularity" is a 6 part suite that starts with "Adrift" with a solo electric guitar playing a melody by itself before an acoustic guitar comes in with Devin singling in his best mellow voice. He is later supported by the choir making this a very celestial sounding track, and then DT waxes operatic again, in the best possible way of course. At 5 minutes, "I Am I" goes into a more bombastic style, and the wall of music and vocals returns in a big way. The music mellows out after a while for a quieter section, then at 8:30, part 3, "There Be Monsters" section switches to a darker tone and builds in intensity and then things just go wild in another study in heavy extremes. The fourth part is "Curious Gods" replaces the loudness with a quick calm down and a return to a softer sound after 13 minutes. There are some nice harmonies in the form of layered vocals and complex yet mellower somewhat avant garde sounds and some whistling. When it slips into the next section "Silicon Scientists" things are chaotic, and then get into some interesting meter changes and deep, character style spoken vocals. At around 19 minutes, the last section "Here Comes the Sun", with Devin's vocals coming back softly and things build to climax when Steve Vai comes in for a guitar solo guest spot to complete this epic suite and close this amazing album.

There is a 2nd disc with the limited edition of this album that includes 10 more tracks, most of them demo versions of other songs not on this album. The thing with DT is that his demo songs many times sound like they are finished. I'm not going to go through these tracks, but just know that it is more amazing music from this genius.

Those that were afraid that DT might be losing his edge need not worry. This album is one of his best albums, and that is saying a lot. You get the signature DT sound here, and you get an amazing amount of variety. There is plenty of loudness here that will satisfy the ones that love DT's heaviness, some of which is very extreme and rank up there with his heaviest, but there are some beautiful sublime moments there too. DT always does his best when he is so dynamic as he is in this album. The addition of the choir on many of these tracks give so much depth and emotion to this music.

DT has quickly become my favorite Progressive Metal artist and this album completely solidifies that, but also brings him up to one of my favorite all around artists. If you ever loved DT's music, then you need this album. If you were always on the fence about his music, you need this album. If you have never heard of Devin Townsend, then you definitely need this album. One of the best albums so far this year and I have a feeling, unless something amazing comes along, it will be the best of the year. 5 bright stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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