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DEVIN TOWNSEND - Synchestra cover
4.21 | 45 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 2006


1. Let It Roll (2:52)
2. Hypergeek (2:20)
3. Triumph (7:08)
4. Babysong (5:30)
5. Vampolka (1:36)
6. Vampira (3:27)
7. Mental Tan (2:15)
8. Gaia (6:03)
9. Pixillate (8:17)
10. Judgement (5:55)
11. A Simple Lullaby (7:09)
12. Sunset (2:31)
13. Notes from Africa (7:42)
14. Sunshine and Happiness (2:35)

Total Time 65:20


- Devin Townsend / vocals, guitar, programming
- Ryan Van Poederooyen / drums

- Brian Waddell / guitar, vocals (track 14)
- Dave Young / keyboards, grand piano, Hammond, mandolin, guitar, vocals (track 14)
- Mike Young / bass, tuba, stand-up bass
- Heather Robinson / vocals
- Deborah Tyzio / vocals (track 9)
- Steve Vai / guitar solo (track 3)
- Chris Valagao / vocals
- Daniel Young / tambourine (track 5)
- Rocky Milino Jr. / dobro (3)
- Hansen Thingvold / vocals

About this release

As Devin Townsend Band

Label: HevyDevy Records
Release Date: January 30, 2006

Special edition contains bonus DVD titled Safe Zone with the following tracklist:

1. Home Videos (Studio & Tour Report)
2. Storm (video clip)
3. Live in Studio Video (8 Songs):
- Truth
- Regulator
- Storm
- Earth Day
- Life
- Deadhead
- Away/Deep Peace Medley
- Slow Me Down

Thanks to negoba for the addition and Stooge, adg211288, Lynx33 for the updates


More places to buy metal & DEVIN TOWNSEND music

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

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!
Synchestra is Devin Townsend's 7th studio album and it is no surprise that once again Heavy Devy is branching out into some unreserved new territory as he does on all his albums. This is no Ziltoid, which is a couple of albums away, and it certainly aint no Terria. In fact it is a rock opera with a vampiric theme underpinning it. My overall reaction was that Synchestra has the catchy tunes of Terria though nowhere near as technical, and has hints of the dark humour of Ziltoid in places. There are some outstanding songs on this that really stay in the cranium well after the CD has ended, Vampira, and there are throwaway tracks, Babysong, that are as forgettable as some of the material on Accelerated Evolution. However, the really great moments are mind-blowingly brilliant which tends to make up for some of the solemn melancholy moments that are like smoke in the air and disappear.

The whole album seems to flow lucidly from track to track and indeed the album as a whole is masterfully produced and realised, at least on a conceptual level. Musically, it is as flawless as Devvy gets and that has become an unexpected factor on his albums. The Hammond sounds great and the lead guitar breaks are killer, and there are some incredible wall of sound moments where the crescendo rises and Devvy really goes into full flight on vocals, belting out massive growls and literally shouting his voice raw. These moments are juxtaposed by subtle gentle vocals and a minimalist acoustic arrangement such as the opening track. Devin tries to get spiritual with nature on Gaia, but this is a mismatch for me, not cohesively linking to the overall concept.

The highlight for me begins at the polka, which is as quirky as anything I have heard, almost sounding like the polkas on Weird Al Yankovic's albums. The satirical nature of Vampolka is enhanced by the speed of the melody that simply rips past in minutes, and this prepares us for the real deal, which is the showstopper of the album, the brilliant Vampira. I had heard this on a live clip of a Vampire Rock show starring some great rock stars, and of course it is a melodic standout and perhaps one of Devin's best compositions. The guitars on this are crunching and the heavy power riffing is accompanied by caustic gravel vocals that are dark and menacing throughout, reminding me of the style Devin does with Ziltoid, ala Planet Smasher. The moments where Devin sings in his clear vocal to heavy metal riffs are also wonderful, and this is where he tends to shine. The standout track Notes From Africa is well structured and memorable to close the album before a weird ghost track. I have to mention Triumph too with a lead break from the mindbending Steve Vai as a track you should hear for certain. Devin has a great band to back him up as usual, the other lead guitarist is so good I had to research him to see what else he had done. Well I was delighted to discover Brian Waddell was also on the Devlab album, as part of the Devin Townsend band of course, and he appears on Accelerated Evolution and the latest Addicted album, playing bass and doing gang vocals if you don't mind.

Devin decided to go solo with Hummer after Synchestra. A pity really as the band sounds so good here. The best thing about this split is that Devin was really able to branch out into some incredible experimental territory and he produced Ziltoid The Omniscient, the masterpiece of dark metal humour. Synchestra is sandwiched between two of Devin's worst albums so it really looks like a standout in his repertoire, although having heard most of his albums it is fair to say that it isn't up to the masterpeice standard of some of his other works. In any case Synchestra is a great album and worth listening to whether you are into metal or not. It is entertaining and one of Devin's great achievements as the unsurpassed 'Mad Scientist of Metal'.
If you don't know anything about Devin Townsend, all you need to know that he is the next Zappa. Their I said it.

In fact I think he's better than Zappa. His guitar playing contains no errors, his procuction work is the best I'be ever heard, he is one of the greatest vocalists I have ever heard and he can just make some of the greatest music ever.

This album is no exception.

This man could procreate gold.

So full of emotion, production that means that every guitar riff hits you in the face, and his voice that sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

But his band (The Devin Townsend Band), are also an amazing synergy of instrumentalists, adding an added oomph to Devin's sound.

This album, under scrutinisation, could be a concept album, lyrically dealing with his own problems at the time (family, children, drugs etc.)

This album is really something and was my first purchase off this amazing man.

I didn't really think of it as anything special, but the songs do grow on you.

1. Let It Roll - I love this song so much. I just love tuning my guitar down to Open C, to play and sing along to this song. So calming and soothing. 10/10

2. Hypergeek - An amazing instrumental. Full of disjunct melodies and amazing production. 10/10

3. Triumph - One of Devin's best vocal performances. This song takes a while to get used to, but when you do, you really discover it's hidden beauty. Steve Vai's guitar solo is also amazing. 10/10

4. Babysong - A song about Devin's parental issues. Amazing song, in 3/4 no less. Great instrumental work. 10/10

5. Vampolka - Polka. This is actually amazing. 10/10

6.Vampira - Very chessy but incredibly effective. The video is weird and wonderfull. 10/10

7. Mental Tan - A quite experimental side of Devin. Sounds very trancy. 9/10

8. Gaia -Great chorus and great rocky vibe to the song. 9/10

9. Pixillate - The arabic intro is weird, but cool nontheless. Everytime the female vocals come in this song, I get chills down my back. Just specatcular. 10/10

10. Judgement - Again, quite werid for Devin, but it stil has a very Devin flair. 9/10

11. A Simply Lullaby - Ironically this song isn't simple, or a lullaby. 8/10

12. Sunset - Great instrumental. Very cathcy, in an instrumental way. 10/10

13. Notes From Africa - This song should have been the World Cup anthem. Just so powerfull, and contains some African melodies.The nature sounds at the end are also very trancy and quite relaxing. 10/10

14. Sunshine & Happiness - This isn't mentioned on the sleeve notes, but it is in the album. Very catchy and very rocking. 10/10

CONCLUSION: This isn't Devin's best work, but even his other work is amazing. Buy all his stuff, and become a Hevy Devy addict like me.

Conor Fynes
'Synchestra' - Devin Townsend (9/10)

There has not been another album in the progressive metal world that I think comes closer to the realm of world music than Devin Townsend's Synchestra. There is a great feeling of unity on this record, as if all the denizens of the world have come together to hold hands and bask under the warmth of the sun. It sounds strange, but only a simile or abstract metaphor could even begin to describe the warm power that Devin Townsend's music has. Maybe it's the pure originality, maybe it's even the unique way in which the music is produced. The fact remains however, that 'Synchestra' is one of his best works, second only to 'Terria' in terms of brilliance.

This is really what Devin Townsend's music should sound like. The production is perfect, and theres a fair balance of childishness and seriousness in order to make a piece of art that is enjoyable and fun yet credible and intelligent at the same time. This is not the sort of prog music you would ever see Dream Theater making. There are different layers that make this music progressive. While Devin Townsend may very well be one of the most talented rock guitarists out there on the music scene today, unlike your typical Petrucci or Yngwie, he doesn't flaunt his powers. Instead, the majority of his work is pretty laid back in terms of technicality, except for the occasional solo, where he'll go all out and truly make a statement about his virtuosic talent as a musician, and put his contemporaries to shame!

The two cornerstones of this album are 'Triumph' and 'Notes From Africa.' The later is where the 'world music' aspect of 'Synchestra' really comes together. The heavy overdubbing typical of Townsend's work really comes into play here, and gives a feeling of global cohesion. It's a feeling I have yet to find on any other record.

The only possible shortcoming this album has is it's bonus track 'Sunshine And Happiness' but it's become increasingly clear that the bonus track is meant as nothing more than a light hearted joke. Therefore, taken as it is, there is nothing wrong with this album at all. This is album that has the uncanny ability to lift your mood no matter what. It has a really warm, positive feeling to it.

Fantastic. A true testament to the body of talent that is Devin Townsend.

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