DEVIN TOWNSEND — Ocean Machine: Biomech

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DEVIN TOWNSEND - Ocean Machine: Biomech cover
4.21 | 52 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1997

Tracklist

1. Seventh Wave (6:50)
2. Life (4:31)
3. Night (4:45)
4. Hide Nowhere (5:00)
5. Sister (2:48)
6. 3 A.M. (1:56)
7. Voices In The Fan (4:39)
8. Greetings (2:53)
9. Regulator (5:06)
10. Funeral (8:06)
11. Bastard (10:17)
12. The Death Of Music (12:15)
13. Things Beyond Things (4:47)

Total Time 73:58

Line-up/Musicians

- Devin Townsend / vocals, guitar, keyboards
- JR Harder / bass
- Marty Chapman / drums
- Chris Valagao / backing vocals
- John Morgan / keyboards, samples

About this release

Label: HevyDevy Records
Release Date: July 21, 1997

Originally recorded as the album "Biomech" from the band Ocean Machine. Later renamed as a Devin Townsend solo album.

Thanks to negoba, Stooge, Lynx33, UMUR for the updates

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DEVIN TOWNSEND OCEAN MACHINE: BIOMECH reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

voila_la_scorie
"Ocean Machine: Biomech" was Devin Townsend's first real solo album, even though the band project was initially named Ocean Machine. Prior to that, he had done the Punky Brewster farcical album about a death metal band that turns pop punk and had found some decent degree of success with his extreme metal / industrial metal band Strapping Young Lad. SYL's second album was in response to the Devin's experience with the music industry, or as he might have put it, a big middle finger to the music business. The rage, the frustration, the unbridled and unrestrained angst, not to mention uncensored, ironically made Strapping Young Lad's album "City" a big hit in certain circles and is still considered by many to be the best of the five SYL albums.

Devin Townsend, however, had another side to his music. He was interested in melody, in ambiance, and in music with depth. While writing "City" he also produced several other songs that, although employing heavily distorted guitars and his trademark powerful, ragged edged vocals, was too soft for "City". Some of these songs had actually originated years before when he was still undiscovered by Steve Vai and recording with his Noisescapes project. This other side of Devin came out as the Ocean Machine project, later renamed simply Devin Townsend while the Ocean Machine moniker became part of the album title.

The music on this album gives us a great indication of where Devin's career would go in the future. Sounds and styles from the Devin Townsend Band and the Devin Townsend Project are already apparent here as well as his interest in ambient music. The guitars are richly distorted and layered, there are synthesizers with an atmospheric bend also layered, and Devin's distinct vocals both harsh and soft layered in as well. Music styles range from the melodic industrial metal of "Night" to the radio pop friendly chorus of "Life" (sounds like a potential hit) to the ambient style of "The Death of Music" to the heavy riffing of "Regulator" to the heavy but atmospheric and melodic sounds of "Funeral". There's a wonderful church chorus part, sparse and beautiful, at the end of "Voices in the Fan", too.

While still on the loud and heavy side, "Ocean Machine: Biomech" doesn't hit with the machine gun intensity of Strapping Young Lad's "City" but instead seems very aptly named as the music sometimes feels like the surface of an ocean, fluid and gently shifting with swells of loudness and sound building, rising, cresting, and falling. In "Funeral" we even hear seagulls as if to enhance the oceanic atmosphere of much of the album.

This is not an album of apparent technical virtuosity. There is little if anything that comes across as tight and complex as one finds on albums like "Synchresta" by DTB or "Deconstruction" by DTP. Some parts are heavier and intense, some parts sparse and melodic, but always the undulating waves of a distortion-filled sea are never far away. In a way this sounds like relaxation music for someone who still wants to be loud.

A final observation, "The Death of Music" includes some spoken dialogue in the background in parts that are from a trip Devin made to Japan. We can hear him getting directions from a woman speaking with clear but accented English and Devin responding with , "Thank you very much" and then later hear him describing a driving range on the top of a building or the pedestrian crossing melody for the blind which plays to the tune of "When a Buddy Sees a Buddy Coming through the Rye". As the track fades he comments on a sign for Fukuoka City, reading it as "Fuk U, OK, eh?" A small detail but as I live in Japan, it caught my attention. The album concludes after the slow album closer "Thing Beyond Things" with Devin providing a full on scream as if to remind us that the furious rage of "City" is not far behind it all.

Fans of non-complex ambient metal or melodic industrial metal or even just fans of Devin Townsend will find this a decent album to add to their collections. My personal preference is for some of Devin's later albums, but recently I found that I enjoy this album more than I did a year ago when I first purchased it.
arcane-beautiful
Now for a slight history lesson. After the major success Devin had with Strapping Young Lad, releasing “City”, which even to this day, is still considered one of the greatest metal albums ever made. Because Strapping Young Lad was pretty much a joke band and really wasn't what Devin wanted musically to be doing.

So...he set up his own record label and decided to release this album. Now, sometimes this is under the band name 'Ocean Machine' and the album is called 'Biomech', but really...this is his first solo effort.

Now musically, this is a very different affair to anything Strapping Young Lad were doing at the time, and fans reacted rather gingerly towards this album. But this album has aged very well, and has pretty much stood the test of time. If you haven't heard any of Devins music before, especially his solo stuff, this album pretty much is the genesis of his trademark sound. Mixing metal with a whole load of different genres, including ambient, electronic music and progressive rock, it is a rather beautiful affair.

The only real negatives I have with this album would be the production of the vocals. Devin is one of the best vocalists out there in the music world today and really needs his vocals to be a striking highlight. On this album, they move rather fluidly with the music, which I do respect to a degree, but I do usually prefer his vocals to be heard a lot more. And, due to it being rather self funded, the artwork on this album can look rather like clip art at times.

The opening track “Seventh Wave” is a brilliant intro. With a great build up at the start and some rather odd melodies in the chorus, the song is a pretty big mammoth of a track.

The album's most popular or well known song would probably be “Life.” In fact, this is a song that is usually played live still to this day by Devin. Definitly one of the catchiest songs Devin has ever written. An absolute brilliant composition with some beautiful moments throughout.

“Night” is a rather rocky and punky sounding song, and is probably more of a tribute to Devin's friends in The Wildhearts, who he was a touring member of for a brief period of time. One of the more less serious moments on the album.

One of my odd favourites on the album would probably have to be “Sister.” Even though it is only really an interlude, the simplicity and the beauty of it really stands out.

The album's real headbanging moment comes in the form of “Regulator.” A heavy mammoth of a song, it definitely is one of the strongest tracks on the album. It is also a rather catchy affair too.

“Bastard” is a rather epic moment, that would have closed the album off perfectly. The first part of the song has a lot of build ups with the last bit being a massive ambient meets metal explosion.

The last track “The Death Of Music” is more of an experimental piece and I think would have been more suited on an album like “Devlab.” Although, this is a rather interesting piece. I do feel it is rather long, but it still packs quite a punch.

In conclusion, I can't find any real faults on this album. For a debut solo album, this is pretty spectacular. Some small production problems may arise, but other than that it's pretty awesome. This is the start of a long line of Devin's musical wonders. I recommend this album to any beginner, because this one really is a starting point, for Devin and for the fans.

8.6/10
Warthur
Biomech was originally credited to Ocean Machine, a moniker for Devin Townsend's solo projects before he just applied his own name to them. Whatever name is applied to it, it's an intriguing brand of metal which unlike many prog metal releases focuses not on references to prog bands of the past but rather concentrates on presenting this light, shimmering wall of guitar which reminds me at points of the work of shoegaze bands such as My Bloody Valentine. Personally, I find the album gets a bit wearing after the first few minutes and lacks the variation or wit of later works by Townsend, but it's an interesting enough listen and by no means an embarrassing start to a solo career.
Negoba
Gorgeous, Brilliant, Perfect.....I guess I like it

Devin Townsend is a once in a generation talent and the fact that he's my generation only enhances my love of his work. I'm sure the fact that he grew up with the same backdrop of musical culture contributes to the fact that his music really connects with me. Or perhaps it's just that good. When I put on the earphones and listen to Ocean Machine, I get lost in another world. The beautiful thing is the music is actually uplifting, energizing, and colorful. So much of the post metal scene is cold, depressed, or angry. Though Devy certainly taps on those emotions, his music never seems depressing. It's full of energy, invigorating.

Ocean Machine, I believe, was the first time Devy created the (relatively) softer, multi-layered, semi- ambient sound that now has become his trademark. His modally tuned guitar was already heard on Strapping Young Lad, but the full range of tone color really wasn't expressed until this project. Townsend worked on this for some time, writing some of the material as far back as his stint with Steve Vai. The result is nearly flawless, and the few tripups are minor at worst (The nasty surprise at the end, the ambient effects being just a little too loud on "Sister", etc.).

The songs flow seamlessly one to another, despite running from aggressive metal to pure ambient keys to near a cappella voice to pop. The pop is usually what loses my interest on Devy albums, but here the instrumentation is so good (like the back beat riff on "Life") that the major melodicism doesn't bother me. The flow and sequencing is phenomenal, the entire album seeming like a continuous experience. The songs are still distinct, with varied feels in the guitar, vocal tonalities, and use of keys.

This has been a review I've put off a long time, because I don't have much to say other than "It's awesome." The later Terria has better production, hit higher highs of brilliance, but doesn't flow as perfectly start to finish. This is the one to lose yourself in, eyes closed, laying back with good headphones. It's just beautiful metal-based art music, a masterpiece.

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