Devin Townsend - EMPATH (InsideOut/Sony Music)
Devin Townsend is a very unique talent. As someone who needs melody, vocals and structure in the music they listen to, there is no surprise that I never quite warmed to Devin Townsend... until now. His latest album EMPATH is an absolute stunner of a disc that really made me open my ears and mind to his brand of music and art.
Maybe because I've been doing so much book research into the world of King Crimson, but I hear Townsend in a much different light. In the past all I have heard was noise and scream-o vocals, but now, on EMPATH, I hear nods to Crimson (1980's version with Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford), Peter Gabriel led Genesis and even some Electric Light Orchestra.
Songs like When Spirits Collide and Evermore are a mix of modern music mixed with operatic vocals, emotional rhythms and the occasional Frank Zappa freak out... and it all works perfectly. The most unique song on the album, Sprite has everything; nursery rhyme style intro into a nice pace with tasty guitars and schizophrenic time changes. The albums closer and epic track, Singularity, is almost a half hour song that somehow... never gets boring. Townsend's guitar playing and vocals are so calming and peaceful until it's time not to be. My favorite song on the album is Boarderlands, a song that starts out like Paul McCartney singing reggae, then has some heavy moments, a baby crying and then... Pink Floyd happens.
I'm curious how Townsend's fans will react to EMPATH? I know he has a ravenous and very loyal fan base who love his eclectic sounds, but since I love this i'm wondering... did he go too soft or is change what his fans expect?
MATMAN RATING - 4 OUT OF 5
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.