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Devin Townsend - Empath CD (album) cover

EMPATH

Devin Townsend

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.08 | 207 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
5 stars First Listen: Delicious Mess Fifth Listen: Album of the Year 15th Listen: Maybe the best Prog Metal Album ever Made

I am a Devin Townsend uberfan. He is my favorite artist of the last 20 years. At the same time, I was seriously afraid he was finally running out of mojo as I wrote in my review of his final DTP album Transcendence.

I was wrong. The old man has mucho mojo for the mortals still to deliver.

When my non-metal or non-prog friends ask me to describe Devin, I usually say he is the musical grandson of Frank Zappa, as he got his start with Steve Vai who in turn got his start with FZ. Up until now, the comparison was loose. Empath is metal Zappa, composed by a fully matured and sophisticated artist who happens to have the added bonus of being a virtuoso rock vocalist. In fact, among the album's numerous contributors is another Zappa alumnus Mike Keneally who serves as musical director.

It is not an exaggeration to say that this album may have the broadest range of styles ever juxtaposed. The blast beat festival of Hear Me is immediately followed by orchestral / choral Why. And it works. Well, at least after 3-4 listens. This album is not an easy listen, especially the first time through. Not only does it span an enormous palette of musical ideas, it evokes an immense range of emotions. In fact, Townsend has said this is the point of the whole album, that in spite of a chaotic world, we are in the journey together. The thematic idea of the album is monsters and light.

The lead video "Genesis" actually serves as an overture, while the album ends with the 20+ minute multipart epic "Singularity." The prog-head in me giggles at the way this 2019 album follows this classic formula. There are also little musical allusions to other artists, some obvious (Nirvana's "In Bloom") and some subtle (Opeth-ish guitar parts in the epic).

The bonus disc is also excellent, and would have sit nicely in the DT discography if it had been the primary album. It still would have been his best since Epicloud. But like the majority of Dev's albums, it has high points and low points.

Empath itself has no filler. It is the first masterpiece album I've heard in years.

Negoba | 5/5 |

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