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DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: TRANSCENDENCE

Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal


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Devin Townsend Devin Townsend Project: Transcendence album cover
3.65 | 123 ratings | 10 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Truth (4:47)
2. Stormbending (5:22)
3. Failure (6:02)
4. Secret Sciences (7:28)
5. Higher (9:40)
6. Stars (4:18)
7. Transcendence (5:55)
8. Offer Your Light (3:58)
9. From the Heart (8:23)
10. Transdermal Celebration (8:26)

Total time 64:19

Bonus CD from 2016 SE - "Holding Patterns" :
1. Gump (5:24)
2. Celestial Signals (demo) (5:02)
3. Support the Cause (demo) (4:31)
4. Into the Sun (demo) (3:11)
5. Time Overload (demo) (4:00)
6. Lexus (demo) (5:14)
7. Farther On (demo) (2:51)
8. Victim (demo) (3:09)
9. MonkeyMind (demo) (3:52)
10. Canucklehead (demo) (2:09)
11. Loud (3:23)

Total Time 42:46

Bonus tracks on 2016 double-LP :
11. Gump (5:24)
12. Loud (3:23)

Line-up / Musicians

- Devin Townsend / vocals, guitar, keyboards, synths, producer
- Dave Young / guitar
- Mike St-Jean / keyboards, synths, programming
- Brian 'Beav' Waddell / bass
- Ryan Van Poederooyen / drums

With:
- Niels Bye Nielsen / orchestration & programming
- Anneke van Giersbergen / vocals
- Ché Aimee Dorval / vocals
- Katrina Natale / vocals
- Eric Severinson / chorus vocals & Tigers In A Tank Choir conductor
- Eric Wettstein / chorus vocals
- Juhli Conlinn / chorus vocals
- Julie Nadalini / chorus vocals
- Marina Bennett / chorus vocals
- Mattias Eklund / sounds

Releases information

Artwork: Anthony Clarkson

2LP + CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMLP 462 (2016, Europe) Full album on both media, 2 bonus tracks

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 462 (2016, Europe)
2xCD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMSECD 462 (2016, Europe) Bonus disc including mainly demos

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DEVIN TOWNSEND Devin Townsend Project: Transcendence ratings distribution


3.65
(123 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
36%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
29%
Good, but non-essential (27%)
27%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

DEVIN TOWNSEND Devin Townsend Project: Transcendence reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Sounds like Devy. Feels like Devy. It is Devy! No matter how many times I hear pleas of Devin Townsend's "variation" and "eclectic" or "chameleonic" sound experimentations I always hear . . . Devin Townsend. With each song, on each album I struggle to hear Devy's murky though often beautiful vocals (and interesting lyrics) among the ubiquitous walls of guitar sound--or else I'm faced with his screaming approach which always makes me wonder why he has to scream: Is his screaming so necessary for the effective delivery of his subject matter? This album is, to my ears, no different. The songs' chord progressions are as constant and monotonous as ever. The existence of any other instrument other than guitar (and drums) is, as usual, completely drowned out (by the guitars). (And people actually like this!) I don't get it. With each song I open my ears, my mind, my heart--I find myself thinking, "This has been getting great reviews--great praise--maybe this is the album that will turn me," or "This might turn out to be great!" or "This might get better" or "He's singing about something important" or "He's so intelligent!" but each time I am only let down; each time I find that I'm just making excuses. "Other people love this so I must be missing something! What is it? What is the key to accessing the joy, love, admiration, and respect for Devin Townsend's music?" 'cuz, try as I do--over and over and over again--I'm not getting it. If I were writing songs to accompany these lyrical messages I would be choosing music of a very different nature. If I were singing the lyrics of these relevant and 'important' messages that I want to get out to large audiences I would not be choosing such an abrasive delivery style. But that's just me. People also go to great lengths to extoll the engineering and production of Devin's albums. I'm just not sure how the delivery of song after song of hazy, murky, fuzzy, affrontery constitutes great production. As I've mused before: I wonder what happens to water molecules (Emoto), plants (Thomkins and Bird), and human brains (Tomatis, Monroe, Gass, et al.) with repeated or constant exposure to this type of music. Another album gets dumped into my "Devin Townsend--try again later" pile . . . . Maybe someday I'll get it. After all, I finally got Gentle Giant! (... after 35 years)
Review by FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Transcendence" is the seventh installment in the Devin Townsend Project discography and was released earlier this month. After a highly prolific release period from 2009 to 2014, which included the original four DTP albums, a live album, a box set of the four albums and live album and two discs of bonus material, a fifth DTP album "Epicloud", the Casualties of Cool album that had a special edition with an extra disc of bonus material, and the double album of DTP's "Sky Blue" and the Ziltoid sequel "Zed Squared", Devin Townsend prepared for a live performance of Ziltoid at the Albert Hall and then took a much-needed rest. On his web site he wrote that he had several ideas brewing for new albums including a project where he would play only bass guitar and another project that would include an Icelandic choir among other things. No matter what was to come, no one could be sure exactly what the Mad Man of Metal was going to do next, especially after surprise albums like "Ki", "Ghost" and "Casualties of Cool" which were so different from his more established, very loud wall of sound, aggressive pop metal approach.

At first I was a little disappointed with this album because it was exactly another installment in the very loud wall of sound aggressive pop metal approach. As we've heard on albums like "Terria", "Infinity", "Epicloud" and even "Zed Squared", Devin and the band play loud and layered heavy guitar music with a triad of screamed vocals that could make a poltergeist crap itself, soaring operatic vocals, and gentle vocals that could put a cranky baby to sleep. Guest vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen, a regular on DTP releases, appears once again, though this time she takes less of a lead role than on "Addicted" and "Sky Blue". The music is generally a blend of aggressive heavy music and variations of adult contemporary progressive pop (by that I mean no bee-bop, bubble gum pop) but all filtered through the concept of overcoming lack of confidence and a tendency toward self-deprecation, hence the title and theme of "Transcendence".

As with "Epicloud" and perhaps even more so with "Sky Blue", the ultra heavy/aggro sound that Devin is known for at times is restrained here and only brought out in special moments that require that angst effect. There's actually a lot of acoustic guitar here compared to the other two albums mentioned above in this paragraph and even when the heavy electric guitars are thundering away it's possible to pick out the strummed acoustic guitar in some tracks. By the end of the album there's a noticeable change in direction toward lighter music with some very pleasing and beautiful moments. Of course, Devin's music often has what I call the audio equivalent of the swimming pool chlorine effect, which is because when I was a kid, after coming out of the pool I could see hazy rainbows around any light sources because of the chlorine in the water. Devin's mixing approach has a hazy, nebulous, echoing cloud of sound around the vocals, keyboards and guitars, and there's no exception here.

As I stated earlier, I was originally disappointed and that was because I had been expecting possibly hearing something really new and refreshing instead of what I quickly concluded was part three in the trilogy of "new" DTP albums that includes "Epicloud" and "Sky Blue". Remember that the original concept of the Devin Townsend Project was to release four distinctly different albums which is what we got with "Addicted", "Ki", "Deconstruction", and "Ghost". These latter three follow a more similar formula which could be considered the Devin Townsend style of the 2010's. However, after the third and fourth listen through, I found myself enjoying this new album more. It also made me want to go back and listen to a variety of songs from Devin's catalogue and I listened to a 58-song mixed playlist that also included songs from his other band, the defunct extreme metal outfit Strapping Young Lad. Thinking about it now, "Transcendence" is very much a Devin Townsend album.

I bought the special edition with a bonus disc called "Holding Patterns" which features two additional completed tracks and a bunch of demos which actually sound good enough to not be called demos (Devin says that demos are prepared ready to hear as they should sound though the songs might still undergo some changes in the mixing before growing out of their demo status). While the songs on "Transcendence" are meant to be based on deeper and more profound notions, the tracks on the bonus disc are a variety of moods including high-speed, aggro metal, pop metal, a song resembling a dance remix of an eighties dance rock song done in DTP style, and a classic rock and roll song with piano but also done in the wall-of-sound, in-your-face style of DTP. There's also an instrumental featuring Devin's lead guitar playing, which is actually very good but he downplays it in the album notes.

Fans of Devin will have nothing to complain about here. It's yet another solid album. Newcomers will be alright to hear this album first, though I personally would recommend starting with "Terria" and "Synchestra". I have been wavering about the star rating, unsure of whether to award four stars or three. I would choose either depending on my feeling at the time of listening to the album. For today, I will give it only three stars simply because I don't feel Devin has given us anything really new. For someone who really has tried to stretch out and create his own distinct concoctions of music, this album is in a way an easy approach for him to follow.

Incidentally, the Japanese edition comes with three additional demo tracks, and I was very tempted to pay the extra 1,000 yen to get them. I really wanted to hear the song called "Sophie's Boobies". But economy and reason got the better of me and I just bought the regular double-disc edition.

Review by Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars More Focused but Still Searching

I love Devin Townsend. He has been my favorite artist for some years now, to the point that my children wear his t- shirts around the house casually. I've given him a number of 5 star reviews. I've seen him live, hmmm, old men have a tough time counting. Most recent concert was in support of TRANSCENDENCE and it was an amazing night.

However, things have been slowly stagnating in Devland for awhile. Most of the newer albums contain scattered glimpses of brilliance with too much good but typical Devy. While the creative well was very very deep, I see less and less new coming from my favorite artist. The prime example of this is his choice to re-record old classics, which actually worked with "Hyperdrive" on ADDICTED due to Annike's new vocals, and to a degree on EPICLOUD's "Kingdom" due to vastly improved production.

But on TRANSCEDENCE, Devy opens with a remade version of INFINITY's "Truth" and completely sucks the life out of it. While the layers are thicker, the sounds more refined, and the sound clearly more polished, the emotion and dynamic impact of the song is dim in comparison. Listen to the two "Alleluia" sections side by side to hear this most obviously. The song is phenomenal, but this version is a shining example of what should have been a bonus track instead of the album lead. Similarly, the cover of Ween's "Transdermal Celebration" just lacks the emotional impact - though I appreciate being introduced to a great song, check out the original if you haven't.

Luckily, there is some spark in this album. "Stormbending," while clearly prototypical Devy, hits the vast space-metal vibe that I love, which is enhanced by it trippy video, and has a fun tapping solo by guitarist Dave Young. "Time is a human construct" should have been the opening line of the album. The lead single "Failure" did not blow me away on first listen, but with a few spins I've come to really appreciate its depth. It highlights how much Devy's already range-y voice has improved substantially over the last decade, and his wah-solo is one of his best. The syncopated riff was awesome live. "Secret Sciences" is a mixed bag moving from elements of 80's power ballad to symphonic quirkiness - ok but not my fave from the album. "Higher" and the title track follow the lead of "Stormbending" - very strong examples of the Devy sound but familiar. "Stars" and "Offer Your Light" fill the now requisite ballad and power-pop slots on the album. "From the Heart" is actually two songs stuck together - another power ballad, and then a New Age exploration which is pleasant enough.

Unlike Z2, TRANSCENDENCE holds together quite well. The flow of the album's high and lows works well. Dev says that he allowed more songwriting input from his band mates and I believe that the performances of the band members benefit from this. The bonus tracks are worth a listen, with "Into the Sun" clearly alluding to Strapping Young Lad days, and "Monkey Mind" representing Dev playing around in the Guitar Hero playground.

Overall, this is exactly what it is - the product of a marvelously talented musician, having honed his craft to a unique signature sound but also having slipped into middle age and struggling to find inspiration. Old fans like me will keep buying and attending concerts, but also reaching for our INFINITY records.

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Townsend's 10-year streak of winning output continues with Transcendence, an album that, while somewhat lacking the artist's usual stamp of creativity and ambition, is never the less a worthy purchase for fans. This release sees Devin continuing in the niche that he's sort of created for himself--ultra modern, highly produced, dynamic, electric, and powerfully emotive prog-metal.

Taken by itself, I don't have any serious criticism for this album. Townsend is a consummate musician and songwriter. The layers of nuance are thick on each song of Transcendence, each song being a sort of standalone mini-epic. You'll be roused, smashed to pieces, left to drift back to consciousness, only lifted up through prog-metal catharsis that is uniquely Townsend and uniquely excellent. "Failure" especially stands out as a highlight throughout Devin's library; it's a showcase of his massive guitar sound, powerfully minimalist and effective lyrics, and sense of pacing.

As a serious fan of Townsend's music, I do have a few quibbles though. At this point Devin feels like he's coasting. These mini-epics that I describe don't flow well, and the album itself doesn't encapsulate a sonic narrative the way his previous works have. That, combined with predictability of the work, make Transcendence a 3-star release. It's hard to argue that Townsend is anything other than a top performer in the genre, but I think most will agree that this album represents him playing it safe.

In the end, I'm very thankful for artists like Townsend, who have given us a staggering large amount of excellent music. Few reading this will find anything in Transcendence that turns them off to the experience, and maybe some will find it as a gateway into Devin's excellent prog-metal output. The rest of us will eagerly await what crazy thing he comes up with next ... although maybe after a brief hiatus to recharge his inspiration.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Review by The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After the slightly dissappointing Ziltoid 2, Devin Townsend returned with this much better Transcendence!

And for this record he retrieved his most prog-hard rock style, much in the vein of Accelerated Evolution and Synchestra, being an album which is not so extreme like Physicist or Deconstruction, but also not so commercial like Epicloud and the lousy Sky Blue.

Sadly, the title track is a bit boring while From the Heart is too cheesy and repetitive, being two minor flaws in an otherwise excellent album!

Best Tracks: Stormbending (one of the most awesome Devin's songs), Failure (could have been included in Accelerated Evolution), Secret Sciences (original and different one), Higher (epic and very progressive) and Offer Your Light (a memorable and straightforward heavy metal song)

Conclusion: Transcendence is a self-contained, concise and very well executed piece of the best prog-metal out there and a worthy addition to the very solid Devin Townsend's career.

My rating: ****

Review by TCat
COLLABORATOR Eclectic Team
5 stars "Transendence" is Devin Townsend Project's 7th album, and DT's overall 17th album, and with it, comes the power heavy progressive rock that we have all come to know and love. No one does it like DT, and that is why I have come to the conclusion that he is my favorite Progressive Metal artist. I have not been able to find anyone that does it with as much power and passion that he does, and he is always one step above all of the other Progressive Metal artists out there. I'm not just saying this because I currently live in Canada, because he was one of my favorites way before I moved here from the States, and back then, when I first discovered his music, I had no idea he was Canadian. But, honestly, I found more fans of his down in the States than I have here in Canada. This time around, DT shares more of the ideas and input of the entire cast of the project. Even though the guitar is still heavy here, there is a more of keyboard driven aspect to it in that they stand out more in the overall wall of sound.

"Truth" starts out this album with a re-working of a track from one of his earlier albums "Infinity". It would seem he has returned to his famous wall of sound where somehow he brings out every single instrument, even though the track breaks down some at the end to a more mellow finish. The same heaviness continues in "Stormbending" with a swirling synthesizer that ushers in a powerful guitar solo, and DT's powerhouse vocals, loud when they need to be, and soft when the music calms. Somehow, DT's music is so heavy and uplifting at the same time, no matter what the subject matter is. Considering the title of this album, he has hit hi style and subject matter right on the nose this time. Just amazing and powerful, and plenty of dynamics because even though the wall is there, there are still plenty of softer passages to go along with whatever is needed in each track.

"Higher" features a solid progressive riff with a dramatic orchestral effect and you hear DT venturing up into his higher register way on up there a few times during this track. Later there is an awesome guitar solo that is all Devin. "Secret Sciences" has the fuller sound, but even so, it is a softer track with a more complex melody. Intensity does get heavier on the choruses. Anneke van Giersbergen from "The Gathering" also helps out with support vocals on this track. DT fans know that she is a frequent guest on many of his albums and many times will actually sing lead. The drums in this one are also quite rapid in many places giving that speed metal style without succumbing to that formula.

"Higher" flows directly from the previous track starting out quite peacefully with Devin's softer vocals and an acoustic, strummed guitar. A sudden increase in intensity and power erupts for a short time, then a throbbing bass introduces the excellent progressive feel of this track. The track continues to go from heavy drama to more melodic sections. Things can get rather loud and passionate at times with heavy metal riffing, even a little growling in the most emotional part of the track. That's another strength of Devin's, using that style from time to time, but only when it is needed to push the emotion to another level. That is also another reason why he is the best, because he uses that talent effectively and only when needed. This track is absolutely awesome and if you need to hear just how great of a musician Devin is and you only have time for one track, then this is the one, even though it is 10 minutes, none of that time is wasted. But I'll warn you, you won't be satisfied with just one, you will want more, more, more! Simply beautiful, stunning and immense!

"Stars" begins right away with the full wall of sound driven by majestic synths, but calming some as it continues, returning to majesty on the choruses. "Offer Your Light" is very up tempo driven by a keyboard riff and with Anneke taking lead at first and passing it back and forth with Devin, but the vocals are layered to sound like a full chorus.

"From the Heart" is a mid-tempo track with more of the symphonic wall backing things up. This is another majestic sounding track with several layers creating a powerful and almost orchestral sound. Halfway through this one, the density breaks down to just synths and vocal layers becoming peaceful and lovely as instruments take over the suddenly serene and floating ambience for the remainder of the track. The last track is also over 8 minutes like the previous. "Transdermal Celebration" (which is actually a "Ween" cover) begins with a simple electric guitar introduction which explodes into that dense wall again only to be calmed again for the chorus. After this, the guitar gets to take the theme into a longer solo before vocals come back. At 3:30, things get quite atmospheric and ethereal as it becomes more ambient. After 5 minutes, the music mostly fades and we are left with a wind effect with distant synths ebbing and flowing.

This is DT's and his Project at their best. Even though the synthesizers seem to have a little more to say in this album, it is still prime Devin Townsend material that surpasses many other Progressive Metal artists in pure emotion and awesomeness. It is a good representative of his heavier music, which is what most of his output is, though he has also been known to explore many other styles through his career. But this one features the music that we all love from him, pure excellence and musicianship.

Review by Wicket
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Its taken a while for me to come to this album. Bit shocking since Devin Townsend has been one of my favorite prog artists for many years now. Every release seems to be different, and this one is no exception.

Well, kinda... Let me explain.

Let's look just at the album title and cover, don't even listen to the music yet. From my perspective, I'm expecting openess, space, choirs, symphonic-ness, atmospheric prog metal at its finest, and honestly, that's really what you get. The intro is a rerecorded cover of "Truth" from his 1999 album "Infinity". It's a bit cleaner in sound quality, no doubt, but the only thing that really changes is the addition of some lyrics at the very end, which segue into "Stormbending". From here on out, everything is just BIG. Big guitars, big synths, big choir, big space. "Stormbending" in general is really quite meh until the very end with about 2 minutes left, when Devin and the choir repeat a simple three-note triad for three measures, then mixes it up on the fourth by raising the first note by just a half step, throwing in a bit of a atonal curevball for just a second. Not much of a track, but the end is pretty tasty.

"Failure" just kicks. In a 6/4 groove all the way, this track has just a feel of grunge and kickass to it. The rhythmic churn of the guitars and the constant tension of the added strings just keeps the whole track on edge. With a pretty kickass guitar solo in the middle, I much like this track. The only downside may be the fact that it ends rather anti-climatically, but the edginess of it coupled with a nice chorus makes it rather memorable, especially because "Stormbending" is mostly forgetful and "Secret Sciences" is a bit too tryhard in my opinion. It's too plain, too one note, too predictable.

"Higher" is probably one of the highest notes on the track (pun absolutely intended). It's the one that feels closest to a real progressive track. The chorus is a theme that wraps around several times while the verses pass through several key changes and rhythmic shifts. It's the angelic chorus of "Higher" that truly grounds the track even after acoustic interludes, shifting time signatures, screams, growls and mesmerizing guitar solos. Definitely the best track on the album.

By this point, the album has the theme pretty much down, and "Stars" and "Transcendence" are pretty much straightforward, unsurprising, and honestly, uninteresting. "Offer Your Light" is really the only other bright spot on the album. This is just a no-frills, hard-driving, metal track, a soaring chorus with constantly hard-hitting drums and churning guitars. This is just noise at its best, an almost modern bastardization of Phil Spector's classic "Wall of Sound" from the 50's and 60's. There's nothing really complicated about it, but since it's one of the most, if not THE most memorable track on the album, it's also one of the best. The rest of the first disc is more of the same honestly.

The second disc is mostly filled with demos, and it begins with a funny comment about the failure of Z2 (which technically I disagree with, but we'll let bygones be bygones). The second disc is actually more interesting than the first, because the first is very similar in key signature and theme all around. With the second being a bunch of demos, each track is different, and thus feels like it has its own identity, and simultaneously, each is almost more recognizable and memorable than the tracks on the first album. In all honesty, the first disc fails BECAUSE it's too serious, while the second disc is simply better because it ISN'T serious.

Because honestly, when is Devin Townsend ever truly serious? This guy got his audience to scream "BALLS!" during his "Retinal Circus" show.

Thematically, it's right in line with Devin's musical trends, but still the album falls a tad short of expectations. It's still good, but the lack of unique standout tracks and diversity of sounds and styles on the album is a bit of a letdown for those of us who've always loved Devin's eclectic and crazy music.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I'm not sure how I feel about it on this album, but then Dev has his own sound and if you're after more of the same or more from the early days then at least the first half is definitely for you. There is ultimately no doubting the genius that is Devin Townsend. I however keep getting sucked i ... (read more)

Report this review (#1612382) | Posted by RainingStigmata | Sunday, September 18, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is another excellent release by Devin Townsend. He can create a wall of sound like NO ONE else. His unique signature sound is all over Transcendence, and it just has a nice flow from track to track to keep the listener interested. He has consistently produced one high quality release after a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1611406) | Posted by javajeff | Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow. This is good. Real good. Devin is back to his best. The dynamic range and wall of sounds that we all love. This by far the best drumming on any album. It is epic. The guitars are back with some sneaky solos. 1. Truth - Great remake. Its wider. The angelic vocals. It is beautiful. 2. Stor ... (read more)

Report this review (#1600588) | Posted by keriboi | Wednesday, August 24, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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