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DEVIN TOWNSEND

Experimental/Post Metal • Canada


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Devin Townsend biography
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.

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 release marked the first time the same lineup had been present for two albums in a row. That same year, he released 'The Hummer', another ...
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KiKi
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$12.47
$7.46 (used)
DeconstructionDeconstruction
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$9.97
$5.98 (used)
Ziltoid The OmniscientZiltoid The Omniscient
Inside Out 2012
Audio CD$12.39
$7.89 (used)
Ocean MachineOcean Machine
Import
Imports 2012
Vinyl$39.51
$29.61 (used)
SynchestraSynchestra
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$11.91
$2.80 (used)
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DEVIN TOWNSEND discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.98 | 258 ratings
Ocean Machine: Biomech
1997
3.70 | 182 ratings
Infinity
1998
2.96 | 131 ratings
Physicist
2000
4.22 | 561 ratings
Terria
2001
3.95 | 195 ratings
Accelerated Evolution (The Devin Townsend Band)
2003
2.21 | 73 ratings
Devlab
2004
4.08 | 305 ratings
Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band)
2006
2.48 | 70 ratings
Hummer
2006
4.19 | 501 ratings
Ziltoid the Omniscient
2007
3.84 | 278 ratings
Ki (Devin Townsend Project)
2009
3.85 | 285 ratings
Addicted (Devin Townsend Project)
2009
3.94 | 369 ratings
Deconstruction (Devin Townsend Project)
2011
3.89 | 304 ratings
Ghost (Devin Townsend Project)
2011
4.00 | 280 ratings
Epicloud (Devin Townsend Project)
2012
3.88 | 142 ratings
Casualties of Cool
2014
3.82 | 98 ratings

2014

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

3.41 | 17 ratings
Official Bootleg
1999
3.53 | 23 ratings
Unplugged
2011
4.52 | 39 ratings
By A Thread - Live In London 2011
2012
4.73 | 37 ratings
The Retinal Circus
2013
4.81 | 7 ratings
Ziltoid: Live At The Royal Albert Hall
2015

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

4.55 | 30 ratings
The Retinal Circus
2013
4.76 | 12 ratings
Ziltoid: Live At The Royal Albert Hall
2015

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

3.35 | 17 ratings
Ass Sordid Demos I
1999
3.33 | 12 ratings
Ass Sordid Demos II
2004
4.61 | 18 ratings
Contain Us
2011

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

3.60 | 36 ratings
Christeen + 4 Demos
1999

DEVIN TOWNSEND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Addicted (Devin Townsend Project) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.85 | 285 ratings

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Addicted (Devin Townsend Project)
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by RainingStigmata

3 stars This album is the one that got me into Devin in the first place. There is really not a lot to it though. In fact, this would probably be his most accessible album to date.

Short songs, fun grooves and a general feeling he is paying out popular music, Devin and Anneke nevertheless take us on a journey of great musicianship and vocal skill. Though I wouldn't necessarily call any song here "prog" and hence the rating, it is still a great release from the modern master.

Highlights include the title track, Bend It Like Bender, Hyperdrive and In-Ah. In usual Devin Townsend vein, listen to the music, vocal and composition ability, stay for the cheesey smiles and fun that this album will no doubt bring.

3 and a half stars, rounded down due to the "prog" parameter.

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 The Retinal Circus by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Live, 2013
4.73 | 37 ratings

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The Retinal Circus
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by RainingStigmata

4 stars Devin Townsend takes us for a ride through his back catalogue (as of 2013), including his Ocean Machine and Strapping Young Lad days through loosely connected songs all following a theme of togetherness.

There is so much good on this live release. Every song flows into the other seamlessly, or at least with a loose segue from Steve Vai, the narrator of the evening. In typical Dev style he turns up the cheese just enough to make you happy to be alive and experience his music, while still hitting you hard with his guitar playing and headbanging composition ability.

The only downside I can think of is just how long it goes for. While 2 hours is the average length of a movie (said only to convey the fact this tells a story) or a live performance, there is a lot to digest and while I love listening to parts of this at a time, listening at full pelt can get a little tiresome.

Absolute highlights for me are Effervescent!/True North, Planet Smasher through to Addicted! and Hyperdrive through to Bend It Like Bender.

4 stars out of 5. Recommended for those needing a bit of perking up or already happy while not losing that metal feel.

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 Ziltoid the Omniscient by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.19 | 501 ratings

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Ziltoid the Omniscient
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by RainingStigmata

4 stars Serious music without taking itself seriously. This album is fun. That is all that can be said.

I first came across Devin Townsend with his "Addicted" album and fell in love completely not only with Anneke, but the music and words from this man.

So when my friend gave me this album to listen to, I was expecting great things, which after the first few listens I just didn't get.

Giant wall of sound, a drum machine that sounded out of control and .. yuck is that growling??

The good thing is as with many progressive metal albums I have listened to over the years the intricacies begin to uncover themselves to allow you to understand the full story of the album. Once you make sense of the drums, the words and the pictures painted with the music, you end up with an album that is just so kick-butt awesome that my lexicon and love for coffee has been forever changed. Phooey! Yeeeeees! decaf, non-fat, no-whip, sugar-free, vanilla-flavored latte, FETID!"

The highlight songs on this album are By Your Command, Solar Winds, Hyperdrive, Planet Smasher and Colour Your World. All are rich in riffage, sheer guitar wankery and throughout it all, telling a story of insecurity and discovering your place in the universe.

4 and a half stars out of 5, rounded down because of Deus ex Machina. Recommended to those who are fans of great metal musicianship.

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 The Retinal Circus by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Live, 2013
4.73 | 37 ratings

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The Retinal Circus
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

5 stars With Retinal Circus Devin Townsend takes us on a theatrical retrospective of his musical career to date. If you aren't familiar with this man's musical output, then do yourself a favor and become so right away, because Devin is an amazing force in music lurking in the Experimental/Post Metal genre here on Prog Archives (with only two albums in the top 20... practically criminal!). If you're interested in reading more about the music itself, check out any of my reviews of his albums where I continually need to come up with new adjectives to describe and gush over his exceptionally entertaining music.

As for the Retinal Circus itself, it's hard to imagine a more crowd pleasing experience. If you're a fan of Townsend, this live album is practically mandatory. The production value is through the roof. With this DVD version you get: the video concert, the CD audio, and some groovy packaging extras. The concert video itself shows off Devin's tongue-in-cheek sense of humor excellently, with consumes, extras, special effects, voice overs, puppets... and a bunch of other stuff I won't spoil. It's a poor-man's stage musical, but that's sort of the point. There are lots of jokes and fun poked at rock music and the concert-going experience in general. It's rare that a concert DVD makes itself the preferred purchase, but this is the best example I can think of.

The musical performances are first-rate, with the inclusion of a full choir and live vocals by Devin's frequent collaborate Van Giersbergen the perfect touch. It's a sign of genuine talent that Devin and his band of excellent backing musicians can replicate the complexity of his studio work on stage.

Ironically, the album's selling point as a retrospective is one point that doesn't quite deliver. The set list isn't as comprehensive as it could have been. Large percentages of the set list come from Epicloud, Ziltoid, and Infinity. We get nothing from Terria (what is considered on Prog Archives as his best album) or Accelerated Evolution (another great release), or Ki. This will bum out some more than others; personally, I love Epicloud, but think that we're missing something by favoring some material more heavily than others.

So, a minor quibble, but not enough to take away the razzle dazzle and enjoyment that any fan of Townsend will walk away from with the Retinal Circus. As a live album it doesn't get much better than this.

Set list: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Stage/Energy: 5 - Live Experience: 5

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 Ziltoid: Live At The Royal Albert Hall by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover DVD/Video, 2015
4.76 | 12 ratings

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Ziltoid: Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by I Love Internet

5 stars I must admit: Im a big fan of this guy! Yet I havenīt really enjoyed his previous live dvds. I just couldnīt connect with them. But this just amazing to me. Espcially the second set with the requested songs. I have never seen a metal act look so happy, as matter of fact I havenīt seen any band look as happy on stage. Another great thing is the awesome between songs banter. "Progressive heavy metal: itīs an adult sport." I smile just thinking of this DVD. No other music DVD has made as happy as this one.

I think this is probably the best place to start getting into Devin. I would suggest that anyone reading this who has not heard Devin before to look from youtube the video for Bastard, or Heatwave or the entire second set. If after watching them, you donīt feel obligated to hear everything this guy has done, then there is something wrong with you. Just joking. Iīm sorry. I just havenīt felt like this about a new release in a long time.

Five big hipster stars for this. All bow before the grand master of humorous prog metal!

Ps. I really wish Devin would do a world tour as a stand up comedian!

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 Ziltoid: Live At The Royal Albert Hall by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Live, 2015
4.81 | 7 ratings

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Ziltoid: Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars My review is for the audio only version of this album, since that is what I purchased as I needed it right away. It is available in so many formats and can qualify as a video or a live album, and I may consider getting the Blu-ray version in the future. I do not want to say this is better than The Retinal Circus, because I have only made it through a few times. However, like all of Devin's stuff, I find it highly addicting to the point that I want to listen to it over and over again. If I use my own listening habits to determine how I rate an album, then that is respectable criteria. This live release has excellent musicianship, an excellent selection of tracks, and the humor and personality that makes Devin special. The first Disc is the live version of the Z2 Dark Matters CD, while the other two Discs are requests. If you do not have any other releases from Devin, this is an excellent performance to get you started. This is highly recommended to Devin Townsend fans, progressive rock fans, and progressive metal fans. I am not big on live releases since I prefer studio albums, but I find this to be an awesome release with excellent sound quality.

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 Ocean Machine: Biomech by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.98 | 258 ratings

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Ocean Machine: Biomech
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Infinity by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.70 | 182 ratings

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Infinity
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Progmatist

4 stars Overly ambitious, immature, sublime, epic, aggressive, beautiful, pretentious, honest. These are just a few of the ways I can describe Devin's second solo release. Especially when compared with some of his recent work, which tends to be more subdued and accessible, Infinity stands out as epitomizing the youthful grandiosity of his early work, and I can't help but continue to smile when I hear it. Maybe it's because it reminds me of the way I was when I listened to this album regularly -- young, full of unrealized possibility, bold and afraid -- but I sometimes wonder why I don't seem to discover new progressive music like this anymore. Is it because I don't hear music in the same way that I did when I was a stargazing teenager, always looking for (and sometimes finding) deeper meaning in simple things? Or is it because all of my favorite prog artists, Devin included, were in their prime when I first began discovering their music ten years ago? Perhaps they were, but for me, Devin is in his prime with Infinity precisely because he is full of the wonder, angst, and hopefulness that we sometimes lose touch with as we get older. Infinity reminds me how I felt when I was 20, and it makes me smile every time.

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 Ghost (Devin Townsend Project) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.89 | 304 ratings

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Ghost (Devin Townsend Project)
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Being inspired by the tone and stream of consciousness style of Ghost, I've decided to review this album by Devin Townsend using only adjectives that come to mind while listening.

Subtle. Lush. Sincere. Warm. Sweeping. Cathartic. Beautiful. Meditative. Buoyant. Truthful. Soulful. Healing. Artful. Reserved. Exquisite.

This is one of the most beautiful records in my collection. Highly recommended for anyone seeking a mellow listen with countless layers of lovely sounds to discover. A shimmer of rock energy hides behind the ambient soundscapes, and Devin's lyrics/vocals are amazing and understated. This is hardly the ambient flat-line that some reviewers have described it as; Ghost is a jewel that shines more brightly the closer and deeper one looks into it.

Songwriting: 5 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

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 Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.08 | 305 ratings

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Synchestra (The Devin Townsend Band)
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

5 stars By far, the most cohesive of all Devin Townsend's albums, and also the most diverse, sonically and musically.

This by far is the trickiest album of Devin's by far to pigeonhole into a certain theme or story. It starts off with beautiful acoustic themes, with "Let It Roll" almost channeling a historic American folktune, while "Hypergeek" transitions from the acoustic to a child-like arpeggio that layers the guitars and drums and reverb to crescendo into "Triumph".

There's definitely a lot of references to childhood melodies, as evidenced by "Babysong" and "A Simple Lullaby", which are self-explanatory: long, reverb filled soundscapes with hypnotic, entrancing melodies that sway with waltz like motives. And frankly, it's very calming considering this album was recorded after making "Alien" with Strapping Young Lad", an album he prepared for by purposely not taking the medicine required to treat his bipolar disorder. So in a sense, this album is supposed to be the exact opposite of it, and it really feels it.

That's not to say this album is lacking in heat, though. The cheesy "Vampolka", despite being cheesy, is a fun minute and a half of surf guitar and polka, segueing into the much heavier counterpart "Vampira", grooving and chugging along like the theme to a bad "Twilight"spinoff series.

Although there are interludes like "Mental Tan" to bring you back down to earth, and "Gaia" which channels "Accelerated Evolution's penchant for catchy songs with reverb out the wazzoo and wonderfully heavy melodies, you can tell there's still a conflict with Devin's angrier half that just finished "Alien" with SYL, and that anger is very prevalent in "Vampira", the Middle-Eastern tinged "Pixillate" (my favorite off the album), and the end of "A Simple Lullaby". The whole album is a huge tug of war between Devin's bipolarity, the album in his entire discography where this conflict is most prevalent. "Judgement" is another bombastic piece, but the happy mood here, much like the rest of the album, is occasionally displace by outbursts of anger and hate, especially at the end of "A Simple Lullaby" (where the main theme is interrupted by Townsend's "Ready, Steady, Aim, Fire!" line).

Overall, though, it's a much happier album than most of Townsend's other records, while still maintaining some heavy outbursts, catchy reverb songs and plenty of proggy goodness. Definitely the first album I'd recommend to a non-Devin fan. This entire album is a summary of his multi-faceted musical style in a nutshell. An absolutely brilliant masterpiece of insanity, progressiveness and just good ol fashioned metal.

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