Devin Townsend – Empath

Empath Cover Top

Devin Townsend – Empath
Hevy Devy Music / Inside Out Music
Release Date: 29/03/2019
Running Time: 74:08
Review by Beth Jones

Now, those of you who know me, will already know that I think Devin Townsend is some kind of astral being from a higher plane, so it will be little surprise to you to find out that I was like a child waiting for Christmas when it was announced that he was to release a new album, and I was intrigued by his documentary series that tantalised us with the promise of an album that he was both amazed and concerned by, as it was completely different from anything he had done before. I have to admit that I was a little nervous, in case I hated it, and it made him, this glorious example of a human, slip off the rather high pedestal I had positioned him on in my mind. I had purchased the album on pre-order and waited patiently for its arrival on 29th March, only to be dismayed for a whole week, when, alas every day the postman came, but with no vinyl shaped package (sad face).

However why let a little thing like an appalling postal service stand in the way of musical genius?! Rick pulled it up on Spotify on the evening of 29th March, and we had a listening party for two in our front room.

Looking at the list of collaborating musicians on this album tells you that it is going to be special. It reads like a who’s who of top current musical geniuses: Nathan Navarro, Morgan Ågren, Samus Paulicelli, Anup Sastry, Elliot Desgagnés, Ché Aimee Dorval, Anneke van Giersbergen, Chad Kroeger, Ryan Dahle, Steve Vai, The Elektra Women’s Choir, Mike Keneally and Adam “Nolly” Getgood. They all saw something special in what Devin was attempting! This was going to be exciting!!

As I lost myself in the world of ‘Empath’, two things quickly became clear; Firstly, I needn’t have worried about whether I would like this album – it is Devin duh! He’s not going to put out rubbish, because he is a god! And secondly, clearly, he is having some sort of mental crisis, and I am worried about him! That said, what he is producing in the throws of this crisis is quite simply mind-blowingly good! The Plovdiv live album he released last year was immense, and I didn’t think it could be topped in the sense of the emotionally electric pleasure it gave me, however ‘Empath’ has equalled and surpassed that. Whilst it is infinitely different from the Plovdiv release, and infinitely wilder in its soundscapes than Devin has attempted before, it is at its heart, still Devin and it is genius.

Starting with the calm, tranquillity of ‘Castaway’, the album takes us on a journey through creation, on a universal scale, with an entire toolbox of style, sounds and rhythms, making the whole thing every genre and no genre all at the same time. I am struggling to describe it’s brilliance without sounding like an utter pompous prat, but the best analogy I have come up with so far is this; When Mozart was composing, he had outlandish ideas, like attempting to write opera in languages never used in opera before, and writing a Requiem mass for his own death that was so ambitious, the people of the time thought he was completely insane. But now he is, without question, one of, if not THE greatest composer to have ever lived, and his operas, and the Requiem, are perfect examples of the most beautiful and revered pieces of classical music ever written. To me, Devin is that same crazy genius that Mozart was, and the music he is producing now is before its time, making it marmite for many, but he knows what he is doing. He sees the bigger picture, and this album shows that perfectly. You might hate it now, you might hate it for a good few years, but I guarantee that there will come a point where you listen back to it in the future and think, ‘Oh my god, why didn’t I pay more attention to this years ago?!’

Personally, I think the album is perfect, in every way, from the insane speed and precision of the drumming in ‘Hear Me’, to the beauty and pois of opera in ‘Why?’, and the sheer scale of the sound in ‘Genesis’. The vocal talents he possesses also never cease to amaze me, from his heavy to his serene classical operatic, his vocals are crystal clear, and beautifully powerful throughout, and combined with the unmistakable sound of his pal Anneke Van Giersbergen’s amazing vocals, along with other equally brilliant vocalists and choristers, it is just glorious. Devin has taken a whole bunch of musical ideas and combined them with some of the best musicians in the business, then interspersed them with sound effects, and possibly a touch of magic, and painstakingly layered together a complete work which takes you on a journey on so many levels of conscious thought that it will blow your socks off.

Or you might hate it, but if you do, whilst I respect other people’s opinions, in this instance I’m sorry but you are wrong! This is everything I could ever want in one album. THIS is the future my friends. Empath!

01. Castaway
02. Genesis
03. Spirits Will Collide
04. Evermore
05. Sprite
06. Hear Me
07. Why?
08. Borderlands
09. Requiem
10. Singularity
I. Adrift
II. I Am I
III. There Be Monsters
IV. Curious Gods
V. Silicon Scientists
VI. Here Comes the Sun!



Empath Full Art Bottom


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Devin Townsend Project – Ocean Machine: Live At The Ancient Roman Theatre, Plovdiv

ocean machine, live at the ancient roman theatre plovdiv cover

Devin Townsend Project
Ocean Machine:Live At The Ancient Roman Theatre, Plovdiv
InsideOut Music
Release Date: 06/07/2018
Running Time: 157:43
Review by Beth Jones

Before I start this review, I will let you all know that I am incredibly biased about DTP as I think that Devin Townsend is something of a god amongst men. I am a huge fan of anything and everything he creates.

Disclaimers aside, I was so looking forward to the release of this live album. The recording for this was carried out at a special performance on 22nd September 2017 at Plovdiv Roman Amphitheatre, Bulgaria. A friend of mine was at this gig and had said that the whole thing, in the setting it was, had moved him to tears it was so mind blowing, and he is not a crier, so I knew it was going to be something pretty special.

I was not disappointed!

You know when Devin is involved, you are going to get a good show, and listening to this album I found myself imagining how magnificent it must have been to listen to all these spectacular tracks being played in such a dramatic setting. The first section of the album is a selection of classics, requested by the fans, and accompanied by the Orchestra and Choir of the Plovdiv State Opera, then the second section is the iconic “Ocean Machine” album, in its entirety, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its release! What’s not to like!

“Ocean Machine” is, for me, one of the best albums Devin has ever made, and this performance of it was something very special. Devin himself said about the performance:

Plovdiv and this live package represents a lot to me, it signifies the end of one era, and the celebration of another. Amidst a gruelling touring year, this show came together with much blood, sweat, and tears, and the result is the culmination of many aspects of my work on one stage.

Ocean Machine was released 20 years ago, and though Marty (drums) is no longer with us, I was able to finally perform the album in its entirety with the original bassist John ‘Squid’ Harder on this night. On a cold evening in an old city in the ancient theatre, many lifelong milestones came to a conclusion on this night and I’m exceptionally proud of it.”

And so he should be. This album is epic in many ways, not least its length. The main thing that bowled me over is the sound – it is immense – so full of dynamics and power, it is amazing that the amphitheatre is still standing – but also so full of serenity, so rich and impeccably balanced that nothing sounded wrong or out of place. On a live album, this is masterful.

The passion and perfection that Devin brings to all his music transposes so well to a live setting that you sometimes forget that this is a live album. The artists he chooses to work with are also some of the finest musicians currently, and they really get Devin’s vision and help him interpret it stunningly, and the sustained energy throughout this epic performance was astonishing, invigorating and tangibly electric.

It totally blew my mind and all I could do was sit and listen in awe to this most beautiful and inspiring music. You cannot help but let it in to your soul – stunning track after stunning track executed with flawless magnificence. I would have given all my limbs to have been there and experienced that. Everything, even down to the album artwork, is exquisite. If you don’t listen to anything else ever, listen to this album. Trust me on this, you will not regret it.

It is very sad that DTP has come to an end, and that fact made this performance almost bittersweet, with an air of nostalgic melancholy, but as always with Devin, this is just the end of one chapter and the start of the next. Empath, Devin’s next solo project, is due for release at the end of March 2019 and will see him work with some more absolute greats. I have it pre-ordered already! I cannot wait to see where he takes things next. This man is my absolute idol.

I wanted to turn the scoring up to 11 on this, because this album is so worth more than a 10/10, but Rick is a hard man to bargain with, so I had to stick to the 10!

(This album is also available on DVD/Blu-Ray)

By Request Set with Orchestra
01. Truth
02. Stormbending
03. Om
04. Failure
05. By Your Command
06. Gaia
07. Deadhead
08. Canada
09. Bad Devil
10. Higher
11. A Simple Lullaby
12. Deep Peace

Ocean Machine
01. Seventh Wave
02. Life
03. Night
04. Hide Nowhere
05. Sister
06. 3 A.M.
07. Voices in the Fan
08. Greetings
09. Regulator
10. Funeral
11. Bastard
12. The Death of Music
13. Truth



Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.