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Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal

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Devin Townsend The Retinal Circus album cover
4.68 | 72 ratings | 4 reviews | 65% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Effervescent!/True North (6:24)
2. Lucky Animals (3:34)
3. Planet of the Apes (11:02)
4. Truth (4:00)
5. War (6:09)
6. Soul Driven (1:09)
7. Planet Smasher (6:20)
8. Baby Song (5:31)
9. Vampolka (1:37)
10. Vampira (3:43)
11. Addicted! (5:33)
12. Colour Your World (9:49)
13. The Greys (4:55)
14. Hyperdrive (4:45)
15. Ih-Ah! (3:58)
16. Where We Belong (4:19)
17. Detox (6:04)
18. Bend it Like Bender! (3:37)
19. Life (4:53)
20. Kingdom (5:10)
21. Juular (4:00)
22. Love? (5:24)
23. Colonial Boy (2:58)
24. Grace (6:53)
25. Little Pig (7:30)

Total Time: 2:09:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Devin Townsend / guitars , vocals, keyboards
- Anneke Van Giersbergen / vocals
- Ryan Vanporderooyen / drums
- Mike Young / bass
- Dave Young / guitars

Releases information

Released by Inside Out on 30th September 2013. This is the double CD.

But, it is available as a Die-Hard Deluxe Fan Box incl. 2-DVD/1-Blu Ray/2-CD*, Special Edition 2-DVD/1-Blu Ray/2-CD Box Set, Standard 2-Disc DVD , Standard 1-Disc Blu-Ray, Standard 2-CD Audio & digital download

Thanks to kev rowland for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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Buy DEVIN TOWNSEND The Retinal Circus Music

DEVIN TOWNSEND The Retinal Circus ratings distribution

(72 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(65%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (7%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

DEVIN TOWNSEND The Retinal Circus reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kev rowland
5 stars Over the years I have been lucky enough to hear most of what this mad Canadian has released, and what I have learned to expect is actually not to expect anything but just go along for the ride. His mind obviously works on a totally different plane to the rest of us, and the only person I have ever compared him to is Phil Spector, as here is yet another genius who creates a wall of sound all of his own making. So when I heard that there was going to be a double CD (plus associated blue-ray and DVD versions) released of his 'musical' I knew that I was going to be in for a treat. The word 'musical' is in inverted commas, as there is no real storyline and to be honest it is just a whole load of songs put together from different periods (including the mighty Strapping Young Lad) that gave him excuse to put together a stage show quite different from anything he had undertaken previously.

Devin actually admits as much during the performance, but he takes it all to a new level with the use of loads of guests outside of the core band, but not all of these are musical. And it is this that is so frustrating with this album for me, and the clue is right there in the title of this. 'Retinal' is an adjective pertaining to the word 'retina', which is a delicate, multilayered, light- sensitive membrane lining the inner eyeball and connected by the optic nerve to the brain. All the time I am playing this I keep feeling that I am missing out on something visually, so I went onto YouTube and checked out the official video for 'Grace'. Some time later I managed to get my jaw back into place from where it had dislocated while I sat there open mouthed not quite believing what I was seeing. As well as a top metal band, he has brought Anneke van Giersbergen back, and although I can hear that on the CD, I wasn't able to see the video of Steve Vai providing the verbal introduction, the double jointed acrobats on stage, the gospel choir, the guys with angle grinders shooting sparks over the stage and so very much more.

I went back to the CD feeling a little disappointed, but to be honest I soon got over it as I put 'Planet Smasher' on at speaker damaging volumes (I've always been a sucker for Ziltoid). Once I had accepted that there was more to it than I could hear I instead concentrated on just the music instead of what I might be missing, and what we have here is an aural feast. Anneke has a wonderful voice, and relishes playing the part of being the light against all of the shade. This music is really heavy, very bottom end, and she plays a huge part in making it sound complete.

What we have here are 25 songs, more than 2 hours in length, and a show that must have created huge waves when it was performed last year. This is a masterpiece, and I am sure that the full blu-ray (which I have yet to buy, but is now definitely on my list) is stunning. Somehow, even though I feel that part of it is missing, I can't bring myself to score this any less than 5 *'s, as it truly is one of the most remarkable live albums I have ever come across.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "The Retinal Circus" is a live album release by Canadian progressive rock/metal artist Devin Townsend. The album was released through HevyDevy Records in September 2013. "The Retinal Circus" is both available in audio format and on DVD/Blu-ray. The 25 tracks, 2 hours long show was recorded/filmed on the 27th of October 2012 at Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London. The show was a one-off, which took a year of pre-production. The show was divided into two parts with an intermission in between.

As "The Retinal Circus" is meant to be a celebration of Devin Townsend's, at the time, 20-year musical career, the tracklist features tracks from quite a few of his releases. There are even two Strapping Young Lad tracks included, which also feature Jed Simon on additional guitars. Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering) also guests and contributes female vocals on some tracks. The band consists of Devin Townsend on guitars , vocals, keyboards, Ryan Van Poederooyen on drums, Mike Young on bass and Dave Young on guitars. High level musicianship all around. These guys are skilled and execute Devin Townsend's music to perfection. Not in a clinical way though, as the live versions of the tracks are different enough from the original studio tracks to warrant releasing a live album and more organic sounding too.

"The Retinal Circus" has what I'd characterize as a great flow. The song selection, and the way the dreamlike concept of the event is put together, work really well. There is generally a good response from the audience throughout the concert and Devin is always good for a couple of hilarious/silly or mindbending commetaries. It's one of those live shows where you, as a listener, can feel the good energy that was at the concert venue on that particular night.

...and that's it. "The Retinal Circus" is about as perfect a live album release as they come. Flawless high level musicianship, a high quality sound production, great tracklist and concert flow and a receptive and active audience to give the release that crucial final boost. If you are not familiar with Devin Townsend's work, "The Retinal Circus" could be a great place to start listening. It's a release that perfectly displays his eclectic approach to writing music but at the same time also displays the red musical thread that goes through his entire discography. Be it as a solo artist or as part of a band. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

Review by Prog Leviathan
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

Latest members reviews

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1528424) | Posted by RainingStigmata | Thursday, February 11, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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