DEVIN TOWNSEND
Progressive Metal / Non-Metal / Metal Related / Alternative Metal • Canada

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Devin Garrett Townsend (born May 5, 1972 in New Westminster, Canada) is an influential canadian multi-instrumentalist musician, vocalist and record producer, drawing on progressive metal with influences from jazz, blues, progressive rock, industrial, pop, ambient and classical music. He first came to widespread public exposure when Steve Vai tapped him as lead vocalist for his "Sex and Religion" album at age 21. He is the founding member of the extreme metal outfit Strapping Young Lad, and has released a multitude of his own albums under the monikers Ocean Machine, Devin Townsend, The Devin Townsend Band, and now Devin Townsend Project. His five-album contract deal with Strapping Young Lad was fulfilled with the release of 2006's The New Black, leaving the band on indefinite hiatus. The Devin Townsend Band was also retired from touring later that year. Townsend has stated that he will pursue his role as a record producer for read more...
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DEVIN TOWNSEND Discography

DEVIN TOWNSEND albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.08 | 44 ratings
Ocean Machine: Biomech
Progressive Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 3.74 | 24 ratings
Infinity
Progressive Metal 1998
.. Album Cover 3.38 | 23 ratings
Physicist
Progressive Metal 2000
.. Album Cover 4.26 | 75 ratings
Terria
Progressive Metal 2001
.. Album Cover 4.01 | 38 ratings
Accelerated Evolution
Progressive Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 2.03 | 10 ratings
Devlab
Non-Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 3.77 | 39 ratings
Synchestra
Progressive Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 3.47 | 9 ratings
Hummer
Non-Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 4.19 | 91 ratings
Ziltoid The Omniscient
Progressive Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 3.77 | 38 ratings
Ki
Metal Related 2009
.. Album Cover 3.80 | 44 ratings
Addicted
Alternative Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 3.97 | 50 ratings
Deconstruction
Progressive Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 3.44 | 41 ratings
Ghost
Non-Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 4.09 | 29 ratings
Epicloud
Progressive Metal 2012
.. Album Cover 3.49 | 8 ratings
Z2
Progressive Metal 2014

DEVIN TOWNSEND EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.14 | 3 ratings
Infinity Ep: Christeen + 4 Demos
Progressive Metal 1998
.. Album Cover 4.07 | 3 ratings
European Tour
Progressive Metal 2011

DEVIN TOWNSEND live albums

.. Album Cover 4.05 | 3 ratings
Official Bootleg 2000
Progressive Metal 1999
.. Album Cover 3.55 | 3 ratings
Unplugged
Non-Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 4.18 | 5 ratings
By A Thread: Live In London 2011
Progressive Metal 2012
.. Album Cover 5.00 | 4 ratings
The Retinal Circus
Progressive Metal 2013

DEVIN TOWNSEND demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Projekt Eko
Progressive Metal 2003

DEVIN TOWNSEND boxset & compilations

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
Ass-Sordid Demos: 1990-1996
Progressive Metal 1999
.. Album Cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Ass-Sordid Demos II
Progressive Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 4.75 | 2 ratings
Contain Us
Progressive Metal 2012

DEVIN TOWNSEND singles (1)

.. Album Cover
3.00 | 1 ratings
Christeen
Progressive Metal 1998

DEVIN TOWNSEND movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

DEVIN TOWNSEND Reviews

DEVIN TOWNSEND Ocean Machine: Biomech

Album · 1997 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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"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.

DEVIN TOWNSEND Terria

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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If the ratings on Prog Archives are any indication, then 'Terria' is the apex of Devin Townsend's solo career efforts before he went and formed a proper band, Devin Townsend Band, for his song-writing efforts outside of Strapping Young Lad. Disregarding the Punky Brewster band project of the mid-nineties, 'Terria' is his fourth solo album and it follows one of his most critically spurned albums, 'Physicist'. However, while 'Physicist' was for the most part a very thrash-based, aggressive album that suffered from a production that even the supporting band (the Strapping Young Lad dudes) disliked, 'Terria' delivers a greater diversity of sound in a warm, well-produced sonic atmosphere. It is as though the fruit went a bit sour with 'Physicist' but has reached perfect maturity here.

Typical of many of Devin Townsend's pre-Devin Townsend Project solo albums, 'Terria' integrates a variety of styles and influences. The opening track 'Olives' is very much post-metal / experimental with a spoken dialogue slowed down, sound effects, and a musical theme that takes time to build to a powerhouse of simple heavy chords. 'Mountain' begins with an intense pounding of heavy music with Devin singing in his softer, higher register. But the music then goes of exploring in a non-aggressive vein with a melody of 'whoa-whoa' before returning to the thunder of the beginning with a trademark scream. It's interesting to point out at this time that the guitar sound is not Devin's usual rich distortion tones but a simpler sound more like seventies proto- metal. If you are familiar with Captain Beyond's debut album then that is more like the guitar sound you will find here just with more bass backing it. It strikes me as having a very earthy feel to it, and in the song 'Canada', which almost has a slow and heavy country vibe to it, the guitar sound really suits the music. Of course, there are other songs and moments with really loud guitar distortion and production.

Other styles to be found on 'Terria' include the unusual (for Devin) simple but classically influenced guitar solo in 'Deep Peace'; an 80's power ballad-styled number with 'Nobody's Here' which comes complete with an emotive guitar solo; an 80's hair-band song with 'Stagnant' that sounds like it could have been the closing track on an album by Cinderella or London Quireboys; and the pretty instrumental number 'Down and Under', which begins with some acoustic strumming and gradually moves to a heavier theme but not without returning to its upbeat sound at the conclusion.

For a Devin Townsend album (or Strapping Young Lad for that matter), 'Terria' includes an unusual amount of guitar soloing. According to the article on Wikipedia, Devin doesn't like shredding and only includes a guitar solo is he feels it can work within the musical framework of a song. Thus it is possible to find few if any proper guitar solos on many of his albums. Yet 'Terria' includes solos on five tracks, and Devin proves that he is capable of soloing in different styles that do indeed suit the music. In fact, listening to 'Accelerated Evolution', 'Deconstruction', and Strapping Young Lad's 'The New Black', Devin proves that he has worked very hard to be able to pull off some excellent guitar solos. But again, typical of him, he only employs any of his particular skills when he feels it belongs in a song or instrumental piece.

No early Devin Townsend album would be complete without nature sounds, radio broadcasts, background music, and other sonic decor. We can hear a Chinese radio broadcast at the conclusion of 'Mountain', a French-Canadian radio broadcast at the end of 'Canada' and also in 'Canada', a curious slowed-down recording of the beginning of a story about a bird in a nest. This recording was included at normal speed and in a longer version at the end of the 'Detox' '96 demo, which appeared as a bonus track on the reissue of Strapping Young Lad's 'City'. I have read that this is actually a recording of a story written and read out by a very young Devin Townsend.

There are two additional points to mention about the music here. The first is the curious and for me disappointing conclusion to 'The Fluke'. The song begins almost in a pop punk / 90's radio rock style which veers more into a progressive metal direction. Then the guitar and band abruptly get cancelled and some ambient / experimental keyboard sounds take over for a moment. This gets supplanted by some quick notes that play like a seventies electronic album, and this in turn drops out to be replaced by a low pulsing tone. Static fades in over the low tone and a clean guitar sound over the static brings us to the end and leads us into the next track, 'Nobody's Here'. The other bizarre track is the hidden one at the end, 'Humble' which begins very promisingly with some strummed guitar backed by bass guitar and string synthesizer. It sounds like the makings of a demo, the early framework of a song. The music attempts to move in a new direction, there's a mistake, someone laughs, the recording breaks to silence for a second, and returns. The song is abandoned for another take but then a backwards recording runs on repeat until the end of the track. This lasts for about three minutes, and at one point some water drop sounds come in. Weird.

I gave the Devin Townsend Band's 'Synchestra' four and a half stars and at first I was sure that I would give this album four, in spite of it being Devin's most highly rated album on Prog Archives. However, with each subsequent listen, the album grew on me more. I now feel it makes for a very good companion album to 'Synchestra', namely because the albums both sound very earthy to me though different in guitar sound and overall musical approach. Still, they share a commonality in that they both feature some simple heavy music in a progressive vein and some more complex music at times. The vocals cover nearly all of Devin's diverse range of ability and the music styles also spread out. In fact, if these two albums share any direct bond it can be found in a riff in 'Earth Day' which sounds very similar to a riff that surfaces in 'Baby Song' on 'Synchestra'. In style alone, 'Synchestra' makes for a good logical successor to 'Terria' even though there is a five-year gap between the two that is filled with Devin's first ambient / experimental album 'Devlab', the Devin Townsend Band's first album 'Accelerated Evolution', and two Strapping Young Lad albums!

If you are interested in progressive metal that includes traditional metal, hair metal, experimental and post metal, with a bit of aggro-metal thrown in, topped off with a twinge of heavy country on 'Terria' and world music on 'Synchestra' then I recommend buying both of these albums together.

DEVIN TOWNSEND Synchestra

Album · 2006 · Progressive Metal
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voila_la_scorie
It's hard to believe that I only got into Devin Townsend a year ago. I had seen his name often enough but assumed that he was someone like Neil Morse: an American or possibly a Briton who had made a name for himself in a prog band and had decided to go solo. Then I saw a review of "Ziltoid the Omniscient" and thought it was so crazy that I had to get it. By coincidence, I ordered "Ziltoid" around the same time as Ayreon's "The Human Equation", without knowing that Devin appeared as a guest on that album. I received Ayreon first and was deeply impressed with Devin's performance. Two days later, "Ziltoid" came to my mailbox at work, and as I rode the train home I read the Wikipedia article about Devin. I was so surprised to learn that he is a year my junior and grew up in the city across the river from my house. My childhood home in Surrey, Canada was perched on a slope overlooking the Fraser River and from my living room window I looked out at the City of New Westminster every morning. I went to college over there and spent much time in New West. Knowing that Devin and I shared the same cultural climate (we studied the same curriculum, watched the same TV shows, lived through the same local changes and events, etc.) made me feel that I really wanted to hear what this boy from the neighbourhood across the river was doing.

Over the course of three months, I really enjoyed becoming acquainted with Devin's music, but this album here was an easy one to love because it is exactly what I had been listening to at the time: progressive metal. Not all of Devin's albums lean so far to the progressive side as this one. But he has done a spectacular job here with the Devin Townsend Band.

The opening track is such a simple beautiful acoustic tune with Devin's clean and sweet vocal sound. It switches to a slow but progressive metal sound, gearing us up for what is to come. "Hyper Geek" has a fantastic beginning with acoustic strings and countryside animal sounds. It suddenly breaks into full on blasting metal and then switches to a very melodic and heavy prog metal piece before rapidly dissolving into "Triumph". This is a fabulous piece of music with several changes (one part suddenly drops into a country bumpkin hill billy ho-down). At times I am reminded of more melodic Dream Theater or Symphony X and surprisingly even SUM 41 a bit when they were doing a Metallica rip off with added commercial melodies many years ago. Keyboards and even piano add some wonderful melodies here. The song's final stretch features a Steve Vai solo.

"Baby Song" is a bit too cute and sweet at first ("Why don't you have a baby? Why don't you have a child?") but then becomes stronger as melodic prog metal before getting more complex and then simpler but darker. The middle of the song is the most interesting for its instrumental melodies.

"Vampolka" is a humorous addition with a punk polka feel to it, and "Vampira" is a brilliant traditional metal / early thrash piece with a killer riff after the chorus that sounds like it could have come from Judas Priest's "Painkiller" album.

"Mental Tan" is a pretty piece that offers a suggestion of an orchestra near the end. How sweet that would have been had it received a more prominent role. "Gaia" emerges out of "Mental Tan" and proves to be more of a straightforward lighter metal song with a catchy instrumental section in the middle.

"Pixillate" is the next killer track for me with a Middle eastern flavour and some great prog metal. It's dark and moody and heavy. Brilliant! After that "Judgement" and "A Simple Lullaby" feature more slow progressive metal, great heavy melodies, and some special moments. But perhaps because I am already on overload up to here with good music, I feel these songs are the weaker part of the album. My mind wanders during these two tracks except for when some change in the music brings me back temporarily.

"Sunset" has a great melodic 80's rock sound and a very positive vibe. There's more of that sweet piano again. It really shows how Devin can write beautiful music with a rock band but it is short though, and soon we are into the last track on the album, "Notes from Africa" which is actually only a five-minute song with a few minutes of jungle sounds after (which I highly suspect were recorded in the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver). One thing I noticed in this song were the lines "Oh, what a feeling / Oh, what a feeding" which reference the Strapping Young Lad song "Love?" from the album "Alien". As I have come to learn, Devin often self-references.

An unlisted track on the CD sneaks in at end. "Sunshine and Happiness" is a cheery rock and roll / pop punk tune which doesn't really fit in with the rest of the album, which is probably why it wasn't listed on the CD. It's a fun tune but really different from the tone set by the rest of the album. It is better than some of the hidden tracks on other Devin Townsend albums.

This album really stands out in my Devin Townsend collection, along with "Ki" which is also very different, though I would recommend putting it along side "Terria". So many sides to Devin's music and vocal style are captured here. Do check it out!

DEVIN TOWNSEND Deconstruction

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
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voila_la_scorie
So, this is the intense and chaotic progressive metal album that comprises one fourth of the original concept of the Devin Townsend Project (which has since progressed into six albums with "Epicloud" and also "Sky Blue" from the "Zed Squared" double disc). Having all five of Strapping Young Lad's albums (Devin's other band from 1995 to 2006), I was expecting something really similar because the reviews I had read suggested so. Devin said in an interview that this is where he wanted to take Strapping Young Lad, and in another interview he said in response to a question about reforming SYL that "This is the kind of metal I want to do now".

Considering all this, I found my expectations were not met. Instead, I was faced with a mountain of creative music that I realized was going to take some time to explore and become familiar with. There is only one track here that I feel is similar to SYL's music, "Poltergeist" (an interesting title as the simultaneously released sister album is entitled "Ghost"). The rest of the album covers a surprising range of music, though still in the metal mould, from "Praise the Lowered" with lots of mellow and dark electronica to the 16-minute plus "The Mighty Masturbator" with various metal shades as well as a club music section, to the wild theatrical ride of the title track.

Fans of Devin will know that he has often worked with female vocalists (at least five that I can think of) because he writes music with a certain vocal quality or sound in mind that only woman can provide. He once said that he doesn't need to work with male vocalists because he can do most of what he needs himself. On this album, however, he wanted to make a real metal statement and called in quite a host of male guest vocalists. At first, I found the guests are not so easy to pick out. Devin is an accomplished screamer, growler, shouter, and sneerer, as well as singer, howler, whisperer, and crooner. After several listens, I was better able to identify the guest vocal performances, particularly Oderus Urungus on the title track, Ihsahn on "Juular", and Paul Masvidal and Joe Duplantier on "Sumeria". Some have complained that the guest vocalists weren't used to their full capacity; however, I only feel the Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth has taken the most time to pick out considering his vocal talents.

The album alternates between shorter songs ranging between 3:29 and 6:37, and longer ones ranging between 9:27 and 16:38. My general impression of the album is that it is a precursor to the "Zed Squared" disc, "Ziltoid Dark Matters" because it includes an orchestra and choir and in parts sounds like a metal musical. It is loosely a story about a man seeking the secrets of the universe and finds himself in Hell before the Devil who offers him a cheeseburger which contains all he seeks to know. But he can't eat the burger as he's a "vege-ma- tarian" and so his quest ends in vain. I believe the message here is that we can't expect to solve life's mysteries as long as we cling to a single ideal. The limitations we impose upon ourselves through restricted belief systems will forever blind us to the truth.

The music is generally dark, brooding at times, full of rage at others, and very intense. At other times though, there are some slower moments, some of which are rather beautiful. The height of the theatrics lie in three songs: "Juular", "The Mighty Masturbator" and "Deconstruction". "Juular" features a choir singing back up and if you've seen the video with the train riding through a hellish landscape, you'll understand how the choir's vocal contribution suits the image of a train. When Ihsahn sings the chorus, the choir and music may inspire images of a very dark scene in a Tim Burton movie.

"The Mighty Masturbator", in spite of its humorous title, is mostly quite serious, though the part about saving the world features some goofy spoken dialogue. Ziltoid himself makes a guest appearance here, first in voice only and later announcing that he is indeed Ziltoid the Omniscient. There's this crazy club music section where Greg Puciato sings "We praise God. He lives inside of us," and later "We praise ourselves," and finally, "We praise Satan". I find this part really cool to listen to and the meaning of the three statements together could be interpreted rather deeply and philosophically. The song concludes with a carnival atmosphere and Ziltoid introducing some freak show characters like the four-face boy, the man with seventeen testicles, and the Mankee Brothers who provide flatulence free of charge.

The wackiest, zaniest song on the album is the title track. Beginning with two scientists discussing the brain while using a toilet (Devin's toilet humour fetish in full force here), the song seems to jump from theme to theme, mostly including wild, over-the-top guitar soloing, machinegun fire drumming, a choir (who sing "All beef patties, pickles onions on a sesame seed bun" in one part), and some crazy dialogue provided by Devin and Oderus (and I'm sure a third party). Fredrik Thordendal of Messhuga contributes a crazy guitar solo, too. This song really allows Devin to indulge in his elementary school boy humour with plenty of farts, toilet sounds, misplaced emphasis in the word happiness (hapPENIS), and some nose clearing and bizarre vocal sounds. It is the craziest song I have ever heard that still pretends to be serious.

I can't say there's anything I don't like about this album. True it will not impress everyone. People who prefer their metal a bit simpler or more serious can also spend their money elsewhere. But this is one very imaginative album and one that slowly grows. Recommended for the adventurous.

DEVIN TOWNSEND Z2

Album · 2014 · Progressive Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Z² (short for Ziltoid 2; pronounced "Zed squared" or alternately Zee Two) is a combo pack from Mr DEVIN TOWNSEND but has been released in three different editions.

The jewel case edition (which i have) contains the two main albums: SKY BLUE and DARK MATTERS. The limited digipak edition contains the two main albums, a third CD that is DARK MATTERS without dialogue and extra artwork. The Japanese limited edition contains all of the above with a bonus “Loud Park” concert on DVD which was taken from a show in Saitama, Japan on October 2013.

OK. Let’s get to the music. The two discs basically are sequels of previous albums. SKY BLUE is a collection of metallic dance pop tunes that basically continues the ideas that are presented on “Epicloud” only not quite as well IMHO. While all is pleasantly delivered in a trancy dancy fashion, it doesn’t really expand the ideas in any particular way. This portion of the album is nice and all but really makes me just want to go back on listen to “Epicloud” which i found to be a very nice dance pop take in the metal world.

DARK MATTERS is the sequel for “Ziltoid The Omnisicient” which i believe is one of the best TOWNSEND projects he has yet put out. While the original was a one-man show (for the most part) this is a major production under the DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT. I very rarely like sequels and i have to say that this one seems particularly unnecessary. The whole thing feels forced and reminds me of one trick ponies that milk it for everything that can be milked. I feel the original ZILTOID idea was brilliant but really needed no further expansion. While the original was a really cute over-the-top musical production by DEVIN alone, this one seems like it was tweaked and stuffed with so many sounds and ideas that it explodes on itself. I mean, really what’s the fascination with a Therion style symphonic embellishment complete with full choirs with a majorly unsatisfying expansion of the story around which the musical ideas gravitate. There is lots of borrowing of North American cartoons going on here. The narration reminds me of Rocky & Bullwinkle while the whole production reminds me of Dr Seuss’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” goes Broadway. Their is a showtune approach to a whimsical idea that is devoid of enough substance for my gleeful consumption.

This is a bit disappointing as i was expecting a ZILTOID experience that delivered at least a partial experience of the first but the contrast between the over-production and weakness of the plot which dictates any musical development just leaves me wanting to go back and listen to the original which was surprisingly balanced. The Who’s down in Who-ville liked Ziltoid a lot but the Grinch who loved Ziltoid, the sequel does not. It all feels contrived and forced and parts go on and on. Like Saturday Night Live sketches that were excellent for a one-time skit of whimsy, so was ZILTOID, but for such a project to be able to expand beyond its initial parameters requires more substance than what i find going on here. Overall, this isn’t a horrible combo package but it doesn’t feel like a necessary one either and i really hope there isn’t a ZILTOID franchise in the making after hearing this. Heavy Devvy has many hits and misses of his career and in my world this one just feels lost and contrived by adding bombast without any substance to back it up.

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Prog Geo wrote:
1921 days ago
Insane and calm artist.

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