Devin Townsend - Empath review
|Release date:||March 2019|
03. Spirits Will Collide
06. Hear Me
1 - Adrift
2 - I Am I
3 - There Be Monsters
4 - Curious Gods
5 - Silicon Scientists
6 - Here Comes The Sun
Disc II [Limited Edition bonus demos]
01. The Contrarian
03. The Waiting Kind
06. This Is Your Life
08. Middle Aged Man
09. Total Collapse
Finally free of all artistic constraints once more, Devin Townsend makes just the album he wanted to make.
It's really hard to review a Devin Townsend record, although many people have done it before me on this very website. But in my defense, their records didn't have guest vocals from Nickelback's Chad Kroeger. So taking upon this monumental feat, let's first put Empath into context. I didn't really like the last few records as much, the last ones made under The Devin Townsend Project moniker. It felt like he kinda pushed himself into a creative corner where he wasn't really making the music that he wanted to make, but somehow still managed to make amazing music. So now that "The Project" has been put to rest, on Empath you can clearly feel a revitalized Townsend.
Even at its colossal almost 80 minutes of run time, Empath still feels like it has so much replayability and I never really felt like any moments were there just to fill space. I even listened to the extra 50 minutes of demos (which I advise you to do, since they're quite fun as well). I'm not the biggest Devin fan and I haven't listened to all of his records, but I have a fairly decent grasp of his work and I've seen him live. Don't expect me to pinpoint certain moments in certain songs and say "Ah, it sounds like what he did with [album]". I can tell that a lot of the stuff that he does on this album may trace back to prior works, but as a man whose career has lasted longer than my lifetime, could I blame him? Not all the things I do are that new and nobody blames me. Now, don't quote me on this one as some sort of authority, but I feel like Empath has so much that I haven't heard Devin do or do that well.
The album is a fucking mess. There's no way around it. But it's that beautiful kind of mess where you really don't know what you're gonna get and you're just along for the ride. This is probably the most fun metal album I've heard in a long time, one that didn't sacrifice artistic proficiency for "le random" edgy humour, which was something I didn't like as much in his Ziltoid albums. There is clearly a lot of "randomness" here, but it feels closer to something out of a Mr. Bungle record. A lot of it comes from how many influences and sounds Devin puts into the music, most of them from his previous works, as established, but lots of them feel so jovial and confident in a way that I have never seen him do. Quite like a culmination of all these years of music that he has blessed us with.
And even the lineup reflects that, with a lot of people who have been involved in his music previously, like Steve Vai, Anneke Van Giersbergen, and Ché Aimee Dorval and Morgan Ågren of Casualities Of Cool, but also a lot of newcomers from Decrepit Birth, Skyharbor, and... uhh... Nickelback (but you won't even notice the latter). There is quite a feeling that even with the quite ambitious run time he tried to achieve too much all at once, but it's so subdued by the awe of listening to it come together so seamlessly and unexpectedly. From the mountain-stomping heavy moments to the chill acoustics and the random sound effects and the already usual choirs, nothing feels too forced or like it isn't there with a purpose. This is clearly something that none other than Devin Townsend could have made.
I'm struggling to find anything negative to say about this. Self-indulgent and disjointed? Bah. I wouldn't want it any other way. Only Devin Townsend can make self-indulgent and disjointed sound this amazing. Once again, I'm just along for the fucking ride.
||Written on 30.03.2019 by|
Guest review by
|How do you try to describe something that in many other contexts could serve as evidence to certify someone insane? Simply put, you don't. You strap yourself in and let yourself be taken on a journey with many twists, jumps and unexpected turns whilst you hold on for dear life. Devin Townsend here, sheds himself of the project that he has called home for a decade and embarks on an effort that marks his first solo venture since Ziltoid 2.
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published 12.04.2020 | Comments (1)
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