Released by: Inside Out Music
Release Date: September 9th, 2016
Genre: Progressive Metal
Devin Townsend: Vocals, Guitar, Keys, Programming
Ryan Van Poederooyen: Drums
Dave Young: Guitar, Keys
Brian ‘Beav’ Waddell: Bass
Mike St-Jean: Keyboards, Synths, Programming
4. Secret Sciences
8. Offer Your Light
9. From The Heart
10. Transdermal Celebration (Cover)
Another year, another mindset from the Canadian genius Devin Townsend, bringing the latest effort from The Devin Townsend Project with ‘Transcendence.’ Released on September 9th under Century Media Records/InsideOut Music and making it the follow up from 2014’s ‘Z².’ Townsend is known for never making the same thing twice, as his style continues to evolve and well, transcend. Townsend said so himself, “Music, in my opinion, is ideally the exhaust for whatever you’re going through in life. Rather than the focus, it should be the outcome. As such, each record just naturally leads to the next. If they’re done correctly, they become an accurate representation, like a snapshot of a particular frame of mind.” I must say, I agree with his explanation, where you do see several artists changing their tune and structure over the years. However, not all are as accepting, forgiving and mesmerizing as Townsend. Additionally, this album features a handful of guest vocalists including ex-The Gathering singer Anneke Van Giersbergen, Ché Aimee Dorval, Katrina Natale, and the five-person choir Tigers In A Tank.
The first song is no stranger to Devin Townsend, as it was seen in 1998’s ‘Infinity.’ There is something unique about this updated version, as it generates his progression as an artist. Perhaps it was displayed as a first track to show his change over the years. However, it fits well with this album. I love the ending where it silences as you hear the stirring words with “everything’s changed.” Heavy-hitting Progressive Metal sounds persist with the next “Stormbending.” After the music sets in, you hear, “Time is the human construct,” and the piece morphs towards an exploration of the mind reflecting oneself as one grows older. It is as though one is soaring through their own years of existence as musically it fills with a Progressive guitar medley and dramatic excellence as the personal realizations unravel, “time after time.” The powerful tune “Failure” kicks in with a guitar riff up until the drums join in with intensity. It is one of the better tracks of the album, and the lyrics will haunt you such as, “save me, I’m all alone.” One can interpret this piece with a variety of emotions including anger, sadness, and the need to be saved. The chorus emphasizes on morbid feelings as it remains captivating. The melody continues to move effortlessly that includes a Progressive guitar solo and at one point a dark scream hits followed by lyrics, “I won’t feel this.” It speaks with such numbness as though one is discussing hiding from feeling the true pain this ruthless world provides.
“Secret Sciences” slows the edge down with a soothing introduction. However, it does not last long as the ambient keyboard enhancements add a coarse aggression along with the compelling vocals. It reveals a period of one’s weakness as you learn to, “let it go” and to “let it be a part of yesterday.” “Higher” slowly creeps in as the album continues to run on a mysterious journey. The melody picks up with repetitive voices of, “higher, higher, higher,” as though it is building towards a climax as a guitar riff soon follows up until the track hits a brief dramatic silence. The song captures compelling lyrics such as “grab your life, in ways that will be known. Grab your life in ways you will be shown.” It is as though one should rise above, therefore “Higher,” from personal struggles as the melody increases with quite a few chaotic instrumental breaks.
The album continues to draw you in with “Stars.” While listening to this piece it felt quite hypnotic as I was at a loss for words to even describe where all I can say is, it will compel you. The title track, “Transcendence,” is possibly the most depressing song off of the album. It begins with a marching-like melody as it shifts with an ambient chorus style, as it continues to draw in the essence of unfortunate transformations. The pace changes towards an eighties electronic induced style with “Offer Your Light.” It reshapes itself with crisp guitar solos and radiant lyrics such as “offer your light to the way that your feeling.” Musically the beat slows down towards the end of the album with “From the Heart.” It continues to move in a soaring motion of musical bliss yet; it captures a romantic melody with the variety of instrumental interludes. The final track, “Transdermal Celebration” moves with a Progressive brilliance that maintains a calm and collective medley. As the song continues, it builds towards a mystical and eerie sound as it changes once more with a disarray direction. After listening to this tune, I did notice that the ending somehow reminded me with a transformation similar to the one in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ Perhaps it is the intention or my own interpretation but, one thing is for sure, this album holds the emotion of reawakening and experiencing change and human growth.
Reviewer: Zenae Zukowski