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Devin Townsend - Ocean Machine - Biomech CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend


Experimental/Post Metal

3.99 | 327 ratings

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5 stars Devin Townsend has made a name for himself through various projects, from his role as vocalist with guitar virtuoso Steve Vai to the scathing intensity of his most well known Strapping Young Lad project, as well as his solo experiments such as Infinity and Physicist. Ocean Machine is yet another Townsend project, and Biomech is quite different from his past musical endeavors. The album's concept is based around music as if it were made by the ocean, and musically, this is achieved through a highly melodic, yet heavy, rock/metal format enveloped by a wide range of emotions both atmospheric and personal. The sound is huge, vast and powerful (courtesy of Devin himself), and allows the music to make its impact sonically, as well as in terms of songcraft and conviction. Heavily layered and richly textured, Biomech flows from beginning to end, no silence between songs, acting as one long musical journey that could serve as the soundtrack to someone's life. This "someone" could be Devin, or it could be you, or me, or anyone who has gone through the highs and lows, the joys and sorrows of earthly existence. And it's within this album that the listener is overcome with various emotions, whether it's happiness, sadness, or anger, making it seemingly impossible to experience Ocean Machine and not be effected in some way.

Devin is accompanied by a rhythm section of Jr. Harder on bass and Marty Chapman on drums to lay the foundation for his ideas. Devin is one of few guitarists who can make his instrument scream in rage and cry in sorrow with such conviction, not to mention his amazing vocal abilities, which like his guitarwork, can also express intense emotions both enraged and serene. When taking into consideration the level of songwriting and musical vision displayed throughout this album, not to mention his other musical embellishments, it is clear to even the most inept of music audiences that this man is nothing short of a musical genius.

A work of this magnitude is impossible to describe with mere words, but songs like "Life", "Hide Nowhere" and "Voices In The Fan" speak for themselves. All are carried by infectious choruses and melodic wonder, much like the entirety of the album. The songs are mostly based on rock structures, but "Sister" and "3 A.M." are short soundscape pieces drenched in atmosphere and Devin's emotional vocals. Another such piece is "The Death Of Music", an over 10 minute expression of chilling atmospherics and passionate vocals complete with rise-and-fall dynamics, taking the listener on an introspective trip through the mind and soul. "Regulator" is one of the album's highlights, carried by a pounding rhythm and crushing riff, with Devin's screaming working perfectly in tandem. "Night" is an uptempo rocker bringing to mind images of racing through the nighttime city streets, easily the most unrestrained track on the album. The centerpiece of the album for me, however, is the back to back tracks, "Funeral" and "Bastard". "Funeral" is a beautiful work of atmosphere and emotion, ballad-like in its structure and expression so convincing it leaves goose bumps on the skin. The track fades into "Bastard", which is carried by an astoundingly huge riff. A vast, spacious riff laid over a slow and steady tempo that is so powerful, so magical that it sweeps you right off your feet and takes you into the heights of musical nirvana. This is the apex of not only Biomech, but of Townsend's entire discography. Quite simply, an amazing song.

Biomech is a musical work the likes of which should be hailed by many and put on the same pedestal as masterworks from Pink Floyd, The Beatles or any of the other classic rock albums of the past. But of course, it won't. Even within the metal underground, which is where the direct audiences for Devin's work reside, Ocean Machine is relatively an unknown or underappreciated proposition. There remains very few true musicians who possess this kind of vision and craftsmanship, and even fewer albums that offer this much in terms of sonic and emotional gratification.

bleak | 5/5 |


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