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

DEVIN TOWNSEND Ocean Machine: Biomech album cover 4.17 | 57 ratings
Ocean Machine: Biomech
Progressive Metal 1997
DEVIN TOWNSEND Infinity album cover 3.66 | 32 ratings
Infinity
Progressive Metal 1998
DEVIN TOWNSEND Physicist album cover 3.59 | 28 ratings
Physicist
Progressive Metal 2000
DEVIN TOWNSEND Terria album cover 4.21 | 90 ratings
Terria
Progressive Metal 2001
DEVIN TOWNSEND Accelerated Evolution album cover 4.06 | 49 ratings
Accelerated Evolution
Progressive Metal 2003
DEVIN TOWNSEND Devlab album cover 1.90 | 11 ratings
Devlab
Non-Metal 2004
DEVIN TOWNSEND Synchestra album cover 4.21 | 45 ratings
Synchestra
Progressive Metal 2006
DEVIN TOWNSEND Hummer album cover 3.14 | 11 ratings
Hummer
Non-Metal 2006
DEVIN TOWNSEND Ziltoid The Omniscient album cover 4.33 | 103 ratings
Ziltoid The Omniscient
Progressive Metal 2007
DEVIN TOWNSEND Ki album cover 3.81 | 43 ratings
Ki
Metal Related 2009
DEVIN TOWNSEND Addicted album cover 3.95 | 52 ratings
Addicted
Alternative Metal 2009
DEVIN TOWNSEND Deconstruction album cover 4.16 | 53 ratings
Deconstruction
Progressive Metal 2011
DEVIN TOWNSEND Ghost album cover 3.59 | 46 ratings
Ghost
Non-Metal 2011
DEVIN TOWNSEND Epicloud album cover 4.10 | 38 ratings
Epicloud
Progressive Metal 2012
DEVIN TOWNSEND Z2 album cover 3.43 | 15 ratings
Z2
Progressive Metal 2014
DEVIN TOWNSEND Transcendence album cover 3.96 | 10 ratings
Transcendence
Progressive Metal 2016
DEVIN TOWNSEND Empath album cover 4.36 | 7 ratings
Empath
Progressive Metal 2019

DEVIN TOWNSEND EPs & splits

DEVIN TOWNSEND Infinity Ep: Christeen + 4 Demos album cover 3.43 | 3 ratings
Infinity Ep: Christeen + 4 Demos
Progressive Metal 1998
DEVIN TOWNSEND European Tour album cover 4.50 | 3 ratings
European Tour
Progressive Metal 2011

DEVIN TOWNSEND live albums

DEVIN TOWNSEND Official Bootleg 2000 album cover 4.33 | 3 ratings
Official Bootleg 2000
Progressive Metal 1999
DEVIN TOWNSEND Unplugged album cover 3.83 | 3 ratings
Unplugged
Non-Metal 2011
DEVIN TOWNSEND By A Thread: Live In London 2011 album cover 4.28 | 5 ratings
By A Thread: Live In London 2011
Progressive Metal 2012
DEVIN TOWNSEND The Retinal Circus album cover 4.93 | 7 ratings
The Retinal Circus
Progressive Metal 2013

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

DEVIN TOWNSEND Projekt Eko album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Projekt Eko
Progressive Metal 2003

DEVIN TOWNSEND re-issues & compilations

DEVIN TOWNSEND Ass-Sordid Demos: 1990-1996 album cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
Ass-Sordid Demos: 1990-1996
Progressive Metal 1999
DEVIN TOWNSEND Ass-Sordid Demos II album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Ass-Sordid Demos II
Progressive Metal 2004
DEVIN TOWNSEND Contain Us 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 Terria

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
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lukretion
Terria marks a strong return to form for Devin Townsend after the pas faux of Physicist, an album that many today consider one of the low points in the Canadian artist’s discography. With Terria, Devin leaves aside the asphyxiating heavy parenthesis of his previous album, and continues exploring instead the mellow psychedelic atmospheres of Ocean Machine: Biomech, to the point that Terria is often viewed as the natural continuation of that album. There are still occasional metallic outbursts that hark back to Infinity and Physicist, but these are not a dominant element on Terria and are mostly used as a contrast to the more relaxed parts rather than as a leading component of the record. Instead, Terria is an album dominated by melody and dreamy, almost psychedelic, undercurrents.

Swathes of keyboards and sound loops (played by Devin and Jamie Meyer, who had toured with Strapping Young Lad in previous years) are used to create the lulling mood of the album, alongside the usual wall of layered distorted guitars. Gene Hoglan and Craig McFarland form an exceptional rhythm section, powerful and subtle at the same time. McFarland’s fretless bass is often pushed up in the excellent mix and its pulse drives the songs beautifully. Devin also plays a few melodic guitar leads and solos (“Deep Peace”, “Nobody’s Here”, “Stagnant”), which contribute to give the album a more distinct melodic edge compared to Infinity and Physicist. Devin’s vocals are excellent as usual, varying between clean parts, falsettos and screamed vocals. His backing vocals and choral arrangements are also top-notch.

The album is written as a sort of musical stream of consciousness, with each song bleeding seamlessly into the next, and even the album’s lyrics written as a unique piece of text, without separation or solution of continuity between songs. For this reason, Terria is a highly immersive album that invites the listener to embark on a sprawling 71 minutes trip and that works best when listened as a whole piece of music. Truth be told, Terria starts in a rather difficult way, with “Mountain” being perhaps the heaviest and most angular song of the album, linking the record back to Infinity. It’s not a very accessible start of the album, which made me fear for the worst when I first listened to it (“God not another Physicist, please!”).

Things start to pick up on “Earth Day”, which is simply the best song of the album and it is worth alone the price of the record. It is a massive, 9-minute long, incredibly dynamic composition that keeps moving between frenzied sonic assaults and soothing melodies. Throw in the mix exhilarating lyrics, massive vocal arrangements and some of the most memorable melodies of the album, and you have one of the best pieces of music that Devin has ever written. The following two songs, “Deep Peace” and “Canada”, are the other highlights of the record. Mellower and more expansive, they do not have the tension and density of “Earth Day”, but contain some great guitar work and excellent vocal melodies.

From there on Terria nose dives a little, embarking on a series of mellow, trippy songs that carry strong echoes of Pink Floyd as well as contemporary alternative pop/rock. I am not very fond of any of the songs on the second half of the record. They are not bad by any stretch of imagination, but I find them a tad too overindulgent and dragging. They simply do not manage to recreate the strong musical high of tracks like “Earth Day”, “Deep Peace” and “Canada”. Moreover, these songs are perhaps a bit too obvious in their influences which makes them sound slightly derivative.

For this reason, I tend to consider Terria as a slightly inferior album compared to its predecessors, Ocean Machine: Biomech and Infinity, simply because the episodes of sheer musical genius and brilliance are more frequent on those two earlier records than on this one. It is nevertheless vastly superior to Physicist and stands tall in Devin’s overall discography, so if you are into his music you should definitely get this. It is probably also an album to recommend to beginners, as Terria contains some of Devin’s most accessible material and so it could be a suitable gateway to get into his musical universe.

DEVIN TOWNSEND Infinity

Album · 1998 · Progressive Metal
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lukretion
Released in 1998, Infinity has been dubbed by its creator Devin Townsend as the “parent album” of the two records he had released in 1997: his solo debut, Ocean Machine: Biomech, and Strapping Young Lad’s City album. It is a fitting description, as Infinity borrows the sublime taste for catchy melodies from the former and the gusto for heavy sonic assault from the latter. But Infinity is much more than the sum of these two sides of Devin Townsend: it is a record brimming with fresh, exciting ideas, full of adventure, where the listener can never know which direction a particular song may take. It is a progressive album in the truest sense of the adjective, and for this reason it deserves to sit in the collection of any lover of progressive rock and metal.

The core of the record revolves around the amalgamation of catchy vocal melodies into a thick wall of sound created by layers of heavily distorted guitars and swathes of psychedelic keyboards and sound effects. Meanwhile Gene Hoglan and Christian Olde Webbers form an exceptional rhythm section, extremely technical, frenzied and inventive, but also clever enough to know when to tone it down if the song needs it. The listening experience is quite unique, as the listener gets bashed on the head by a heavy barrage of sound and at the same time lulled and enticed by heavenly vocal melodies and multi-layered choirs. It is the “Devin Townsend’s experience” – one that the Canadian artist has repeated and refined time and time again with each subsequent album.

A remarkable aspect of Infinity is the large amount of left-field ideas that are incorporated into the record. Often these are ideas that, on paper, should not possibly work in the musical context in which they are inserted, yet unbelievably they do. The big-band swing of “Bad Devil” is exhilarating when contrasted with the savage assault of distorted guitars and Devin’s frenzied screamed vocals. “War” is a heavy affair that suddenly turns 1950s rock (“doo wop boddum…”) before descending into an anarchic madness of noise that is eventually interrupted by Devin shouting “God, quiet! Just a little bit of quiet please! Just stop the noise for once... please!!”, which is exactly what the listener is thinking at this specific point in the song. A country fair waltz unexpectedly tears through the otherwise dramatic ballad “Wild Colonial Boy”. Meanwhile, “Ants” is an incredibly technical piece that builds on odd time signatures, nervous riffs and wacky vocals to achieve near cacophony, which makes it repellent and mesmerizing at the same time – like watching a massive anthill, I suppose. The whole album is constellated with these sudden changes of direction and incongruous contrasts, which makes for an adventurous, fun and exciting listening experience, as one can never be sure where a particular song might end up to.

The sheer amount of ideas, music and sounds condensed in the 47 minutes of the LP is astonishing and witness to the great work done by Devin in the production phase of the album (which is sonically excellent: clear, detailed and immersive). Indeed, Infinity was not an easy album to write and record and the process nearly had the best of Devin Townsend, as he found himself obsessing on every detail of the album and devoting his whole life to it (the famous anecdote is that during the recording of the album Devin used to sleep on the studio floor). At times, one can feel the strain and distress emerging through the notes of tracks like “War”, “Soul Driven Cadillac”, “Life Is All Dynamics”: angular, unsettling songs that have rough edges and give us a peek into what Townsend may have experienced during the recording process. Elsewhere, however, the music opens up, the atmosphere relaxes, and gorgeous melodies emerge, like on “Christeen”, “Wild Colonial Boy”, “Unity” and “Noisy Pink Bubbles”. It is a fascinating contrast that runs through the whole album and indeed through much of the music Devin Townsend has written throughout his career.

Infinity is an immersive album that is best experienced as a whole, with its peaks and valleys of tension and release. It is not an easy album to get into, however, because of its complexity and the multi-layered nature of the arrangements. Moreover, the heaviest, most exasperated parts can be difficult to digest and almost uncomfortable. I also feel that the record slumps a bit towards the end, with the 13 minutes of “Life Is All Dynamics” and “Unity” feeling slightly overwhelming and repetitive. Nevertheless, Infinity is a very good album that is not afraid to push boundaries and carve an original path in the dense forest of progressive metal. It is one of the quintessential Devin Townsend’s records - heavy, frenetic, highly inventive and intensely melodic -, and it is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in prog rock/metal.

DEVIN TOWNSEND Ocean Machine: Biomech

Album · 1997 · Progressive Metal
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lukretion
Ocean Machine: Biomech is the first solo release by prog metal wizard Devin Townsend (the second if you consider Punky Brüster’s 1996 album Cooked on Phonics to be the first official release in Devin Townsend’s solo career, as some do). Curiously, Ocean Machine: Biomech was not released under Townsend’s name initially, but under the artist name “Ocean Machine”, with the album titled “Biomech”. Subsequent releases of the album used instead “Devin Townsend” as the artist’s name and the name of the album became “Ocean Machine: Biomech”. The album was first released in 1997. Much of the material was actually written a couple of years prior, but problems with recording and production significantly delayed the record’s final release. On Ocean Machine, Townsend plays guitar, keyboards and sings and is accompanied by Marty Chapman on drums and JR Harder (who had also played on the Punky Brüster’s record) on bass.

Although the music on Ocean Machine is considerably lighter and more accessible than many of Townsend’s later releases, the trademark elements of his sound are all already here. The songs revolve around groovy riffs of distorted, layered guitars that are repeated obsessively throughout each composition. Keyboards and sound effects are layered on top of the guitars to create a wall of sound that envelopes the listener and transports them into a parallel sonic universe. Bass and drums do not do much more than keeping a steady tempo, but that’s all the compositions need, really. Most songs stretch past the 4 minutes mark, and some are 8, 10 and 12 minutes long. Despite their length, the structure of most songs is actually quite simple, with only a handful of riffs being played throughout each song. The simple, stretched song structures and the layered arrangements bring to mind krautrock, space rock, as well as the most experimental stuff by Pink Floyd – all music that plays on mood and atmosphere, rather than on technical show-off.

The thick, immersive musical background sets an ideal stage for Devin’s vocal melodies. His voice weaves in and out of the instrumental background and sometimes is nearly buried underneath it, but it is always arresting, also thanks to the passion and energy Devin injects into his varied delivery, using clean voice, falsetto and screamed vocals. It is Devin’s versatile and emotional voice that makes songs like “Seventh Wave”, “Night”, “Funeral”, “Bastard” and “The Death of Music” unforgettable moments of the album.

The album contains some spectacular compositions, like those I just mentioned, but I am not convinced it is the masterpiece that some think it is. To these ears, about a third of the material on this record is pretty weak. The production could also be better, as the album sounds a tad too loud, muddy and “dirty” (but maybe that was the intention). Moreover, the structure of the LP is far from optimal, with all the best material appearing at the end of the record, after a rather dull stream of mediocre songs.

The album can be roughly divided into three parts. The first consists of the first four songs, from “Seventh Wave” to “Hide Nowhere”. These tracks are of medium length and are perhaps the most straightforward material of the album, relying on standard verse/chorus structures and melodies that are accessible and even catchy (“Life”). “Seventh Wave” and “Night” are good songs, packed with strong vocal melodies and punchy riffs. I am less enthusiastic about “Life”, whose pop ambitions make it a tad too bland, and “Hide Nowhere”, which I find rather forgettable.

The record then transitions to a second section comprised of shorter, more varied material, from “Sisters” to “Regulator”. This is the part of the album that I find weakest. It is too fragmented, with songs like “Sisters”, “3 A.M.” and “Greetings” being little more than sparse interludes that, somewhat inexplicably, have been all put close to one another. “Voices in the Fan” is quite weak melodically and again passes by without leaving any strong impression. “Regulator” is much better, it has a hard edge in the guitar riff and the vocals that livens things up and manages to catch back my attention just in time, as I often find myself drifting off during the preceding four tracks.

The last part of the album, the 30 minutes of “Funeral”, “Bastard” and “The Death of Music”, are simply magnificent. In fact, if the album had only consisted of these three songs, I would have perhaps given it full marks. Those 30 minutes of music come close to a religious experience for me. The repetitiveness of the riffs, the layers of sound, the gorgeous vocal melodies, and the poignant lyrics, all combine to create an immersive and emotionally-charged atmosphere that leaves the listener almost in a trance state. “Funeral” is gentle, with a semi-acoustic feel but it swells in volume and intensity towards the end. “Bastard” is an absolute masterpiece and is divided in two parts, the first epic and desperate, the second mellower and more peaceful. “The Death of Music” is a weird, experimental song that is sustained by the same, minimal sequence of drum beats for all its 12 minutes. It starts with background noise and voices, before Devin comes in with one of the most beautiful vocal melodies of the entire album. Eerie yet incredibly emotional, this is a song that does indeed feel “like when death becomes musical”, as Devin sings on the refrain.

Ocean Machine: Biomech is a strong artistic statement from one of the most unique voices in the progressive metal universe. All the trademark elements of Townsend’s sound are already present here, which is impressive for a debut album. Moreover, the record has a youthful exuberance and recklessness that are endearing and have surely contributed to the creation of authentic masterpieces like “Bastard” and “The Death of Music”. On the other hand, this youthful inexperience is probably also responsible for the suboptimal album structure and the unfortunate inclusion of songs that are not as well developed or strong as the rest of the material. Despite the mixed bag of impressive and mediocre, Ocean Machine is a great album that I recommend to anyone interested in exploring the music of Devin Townsend.

DEVIN TOWNSEND Ghost

Album · 2011 · Non-Metal
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Necrotica
Let me take you back to 2011 for a moment. My junior year of high school had just come to an end, and I was ready to take on senior year in a few months. But in the summer that separated these events, my brother and I - along with a few friends - decided to attend a metal concert together. Children of Bodom, Devin Townsend, Obscura, and Septic Flesh were in the lineup for the show we attended at the Los Angeles House of Blues (back when that place was actually around… rest in peace). Now... usually, to get hyped up for a show, we’d play some sort of extreme metal to get us in the mood for the moshpit. However, when we finished a show, we’d try to wind down with something a bit more calming and relaxing to get rid of the intense headaches we’d likely have by the end of the event. But this particular show was significant for two reasons. 1: It was my very first concert (although unfortunately I got food poisoning. How’s that for a start?). 2. The album we chose for the car ride home would change the way I view music forever. It would not only be my favorite album of that year, but it would also be the record that opened the floodgates to a world of music I never even explored or considered.

Ghost had just been released in the summer of 2011 to coincide with the release of Deconstruction, and the two are quite obviously polar opposites. For everything the latter did to be loud and chaotic, the former would counter with the most mellow new age-oriented folk rock around. Devin Townsend had already explored the avenues of atmospheric rock before, as heard on the phenomenal solo releases Ocean Mahine and Terria. But Ghost was the first time that his sound was this stripped down and light on the typical distortion and force of his output. In fact, Deconstruction was the reason I went to that concert in the first place, but Ghost was the reason that the same night ended up turning my music taste on its head. All of a sudden, it was time to stop placing so much emphasis on pure technicality or brutality, and more on atmosphere and what “environment” the music inhabits. Before then, I was listening to progressive rock and metal almost exclusively; hearing genres such as folk, new age, or classical music (outside of piano lessons) was completely alien.

However, just the aspect of loving this album on a personal level doesn’t mean it can’t be appreciated on a more objective level. To put it simply, this experience is just beautiful. It loves immersing you in its world, taking you to exotic locations, and letting you stay for as long as you like. Devin’s the tour guide, and his smooth vocal performances are a perfect compliment to the lush, lavish instrumental passages that do their best to provide a aural sea to bathe in. Also, for as soft as the overall collection is, there’s a surprising amount of variety that helps it stand out. From the little swing-like rhythm of the title track, to the soothing bluegrass inflections of “Blackberry,” to the understated flute-driven melancholy of “Monsoon,” to the expansive ambient grace of “Infinite Ocean,” there’s a lot to sink your ears into. But the biggest thing that defines this album is the immersion. Rarely has an album - even in genres like new age or ambient - transported me away from reality and offered so much escapism. There’s still a lot of technical detail and intricate artistry that goes into this album, but it’s all poured into the atmosphere it generates. “Texada” in particular uses Devin’s trademark “Wall of Sound”-style production to create incredible layers of synthesizer and guitar melodies that resemble the feeling of floating on the ocean itself.

2011 almost feels like a distant memory today, but there’s no doubt that Ghost still casts its influence on my listening habits and interests even now. It’s fascinating that a musician who’s most famous for his metal output can explore the softer side of his art so well, but as he’s proven time and time again (Casualties of Cool being the most recent example), he’s truly an example of a multi-faceted artist who can cross genre boundaries with ease. And no matter how much City or Ocean Machine get brought up when people talk about Devin’s best records, Ghost will always be the one I associate the most with HevyDevy.

DEVIN TOWNSEND Terria

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
martindavey87
I never considered myself much of a fan of this whole "experimental/post metal/tech metal" thing (I don't really understand what any genre of music with the word "post" in it means). I bought this album because it was cheap. I knew of Devin Townsend by reputation, but have never thought of myself as a fan. He did produce Stuck Mojo's 'Pigwalk' though, and that album is bloody brilliant!

But 'Terria'... one great big ball of "meh" from me. I find most of the songs too slow paced for my liking. Not that I mind slower songs, but these ones just plod along uninterestingly. Other than two songs, 'Earth Day' and 'Nobody's Here' (admittedly, two very good songs), I find most of the album boring. There's nothing catchy or memorable that incites anything from me other than dreariness.

The record does have a very "big" sound, and the vocals blend in with the music very well to create an almost dreamlike ambience. Sadly it just doesn't do anything to make the album any more appealing to me.

Devin Townsend's 'Terria' is not awful by any stretch, but it's just really not my thing. Simple as that.

I'd rather listen to Stuck Mojo!

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Prog Geo wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Insane and calm artist.

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