Devin Townsend is the most prolific musician in metal. Putting to rest the ultra heavy Strapping Young Lad, he formed his latest incarnation, Devin Townsend Project, in 2008. Remarkably, he is ready to release their seventh full length DTP album, Transcendence.
Not only does Townsend write at a furious pace, he also utilizes many different facets. Each DTP album is an experience of wonder. From the mostly acoustic Ki and Ghost to the straightforward pop of Addicted and Epicloud, no experience is quite the same.
Transcendence is no different. Unlike anything DTP has put out before, it has much more in common with his solo efforts. Heavily relying on his progressive roots, the material is dense, layered and not instantly accessible. Gone are the playful and instantly catchy pop songs that he has been crafting over his most recent releases.
In fact, the opener “Truth” is a reimagining of the debut track from his first solo album from 1998. Mostly an instrumental affair, it is filled with tons of Devin’s bag of tricks with an excellent riff, progressive rhythms and choir-like vocals.
“Failure” is a monster of a track and a clear highlight. A huge riff is accompanied with orchestration and a soaring vocal track. The beauty of “From The Heart” is astonishing. The melody is touching, poignant and endearing in this tale of lost love, which makes it the best offered.
The closest the album gets to showing off their poppier side is the infectious “Offer Your Light.” Once again featuring the talents of the marvelous Anneke van Giersbergen, the driving music propels Devin and Anneke’s vocals and they blend amazingly together as they always do. Anneke isn’t featured enough this time around as her voice has become such a central figure of the DTP sound.
Drummer Ryan van Poederooyen is stellar as he displays an excellent groove and his fills are tight and precise. For the first time in his career, Townsend let his band mates contribute more to the songwriting, but in an odd way the material is quintessential Devin Townsend.
At over an hour in length, the music is a lot to absorb. The majority of the songs clocks in at over five minutes and four are in excess of seven minutes. There are a ton of instrumental passages and some of the tracks go on too long and could have been streamlined. The limited edition comes with a second disc of eleven more songs that didn’t make the release.
Devin Townsend is a genius and a musician’s musician. His insight for composition and performance is second to none. Transcendence will be a welcome return for fans of his earlier (non-Strapping Young Lad) material that have been missing his more complex arrangements. I love all aspects of his career and as long as he continues to deliver such a wide array of styles, I will keep tuning in.
(released September 9th, 2016 on Inside Out Music)