Intro: Dimitris Kaltsas
Translation: Niki Nikolakaki
07 / 12 / 2016
No matter what we say about this man, it would be too little, regardless of our opinion on the personality and the music of Devin Townsend. What can’t be denied is his overcapacity, the constant changes and experiments in parallel “fronts” that he has created himself, his purely artistic, perfectionistic and spontaneously humorous creative approach and of course the fact that he is a bit crazy, but even this somehow makes him likeable and popular.
Shortly before 20 years have gone by (!) since the release of the historic Biomech, the aspirations of Devin Townsend seem quite different today, but perhaps quite reasonably (“reasonably” seems perfectly right).
I remember some time ago I watched on YouTube a video of the peculiar Canadian with the participation on stage of Anneke Van Giersbergen on vocals, in a packed hall in London and I was wondering how difficult it is for the Greek audience to identify with the show presented on stage by Devin Townsend. Male and female dancers wearing band t-shirts in a dance that brings to mind more of revelry, of pop choruses and melodies, filtered both by heavy guitars and deafening loops. The people were being amused, after all Devin has a loyal audience in Europe, guilt free and receptive to pop shows. Of course, the music of Devin is not pop but reveals the more relaxed side of this workaholic figure. After all, 27 albums in total with all of his bands in a career of 21 years, is the least an impressive number.
In this year’s Transcendence, the seventh album of the said project, the emblematic figure of Devin continues the tradition of over produced albums, where different layers of sounds and influences mingle to meet his musical vision. Progressive themes, heavy guitars, beautiful and substantial solos and of course the ubiquitous keyboards embellish the sound of Transcendence. Even Devin’s vocals seem to be placed in the mixing of the album in order to serve the music. I do not know if this has something to do with his knowing that he does not have any special vocal qualities, but he succeeds impressively in points and through catchy choral refrains, in gushing out compositions of exceptional beauty and melodies of emotional intensity. All this through vocals skillfully struggling to be heard through a patchwork of sounds and different influences that -oh what a surprise- comes to shape after some hearings and ultimately succeeds in creating an exceptional album.
The production is “clean” as expected, but not clinical, after all the Canadian knows the art of the producer. The result is characterized by homogeneity and succeeds to be Devin Townsend’s music. It’s hard to think of a group that plays like him. He makes a class of his own and it will be of particular interest to see how he will develop his sound and his compositions in the future.
Expected, simple but essential is Anneke’s participation in some songs.
8 / 10
Devin Townsend selects under a slightly pagan perspective, the issue of perpetual search for knowledge of the man concerning himself and his self-improvement. Craft your life in ways you will be shown, as stated in the highlight of the album Higher. To achieve this he is employing a not very complex music creation, but a smart, spacy, symphonic and simultaneously mystical one, and at the same time dramatic, experimenting, moving in the range of progressive metal / rock. The variety and abundance of textures in Transendence are its strong elements, all tied together and serving its purpose, but without many special moments. It’s an album that is pleasant to listen and has interesting ideas, without being however a groundbreaking proposal.
7 / 10