For the past 25 years, Devin Townsend has delivered progressive rock and metal that stands outside the readily accepted mainstream norms. With EMPATH, Devin has burst through his own creative bubble and pushed out something truly unique, which draws on elements of jazz, country, new age, ambient, classical, opera, and musical theatre. Drawing on different genres as an artist would a palette of colours, Devin has painted a soundscape that is at first challenging and perhaps a bit overwhelming, but like all forms of creative genius, once allowed to take root, its true mastery shines through. This is not an album for the feint-hearted, but give it a chance and you will be well rewarded.
Opening with track ‘Castaway’ with its tranquil seaside sounds and ambient keys, it sets a soothing mood as the clean jazz guitar plays over the atmosphere that has been created. As it builds into the choral section, it transitions into ‘Genesis’ and we get our first glimpse of what is to come with the rest of the album. The frenetic pace of changes, textures, and musical styles at play create what could be perceived as a cacophony of chaos at first, but that’s part of its brilliance. A concept album that reflects the intricacies of life captures its essence, warts and all, in a musical microcosm. This is not an album that lends itself to a track by track commentary. Much like the life it represents, a play by play somehow would lessen its impact. Instead, sit back with your favourite libation and let the sonic spheres that encompass EMPATH wash over you.
Focusing on the themes that encompass what makes life both beautiful and yet challenging, while striving to avoid letting the fear of those concepts define us, EMPATH exposes Devin Townsend’s soul to the listener. The structure of the album, the interplay of the songs, its discordant measures, the contrasts, and the energy that underpins it all come together to take you on a musical journey of introspection and self-reflection. With the help of Frank Zappa Alumni, Mike Keneally, Devin assembled a cadre of musicians who would allow him to execute his vision for EMPATH. Recorded, mixed and engineered in the famous Monnow Valley Studios in Wales, Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood, Nathan Navarro, and Mike Keneally helped realise the opus and its composite parts. What you are left with is an eclectic, but powerful album, with plush production values, and a dynamic sound. If you want to experience progressive music as a stream of consciousness, then this is certainly the album for you.
Released by: Inside Out Music / Sony Music
Release Date: 29th March 2019
Genre: Progressive Metal
As you are here, why not check out our review of ‘EMPATH’.
Written by: Erik De’Viking
My Global Mind – UK Editor
Erik De’Viking is a London based freelance music journalist. His musical interests include music in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.