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Devin Townsend - Devin Townsend Project: Transcendence CD (album) cover

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: TRANSCENDENCE

Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal


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5 stars Wow. This is good. Real good. Devin is back to his best. The dynamic range and wall of sounds that we all love. This by far the best drumming on any album. It is epic. The guitars are back with some sneaky solos.

1. Truth - Great remake. Its wider. The angelic vocals. It is beautiful. 2. StormBending - Could be a score to a movie! 3. Failure - That Solo! 4. Secret Science - Ok song 5. Higher - Little bit toolish at times. Proggy - Could easy be on Ziltiod 3 6. Stars- Great song. I prefer the Toon Tracks version of vocals. These ones are a little soft. 7. Transcendence - That Drumming!!!!! 10/10 - Reminds me a bit of Ayreon Day 20 8. Offer your light - Upbeat 9. From your heart - Nice Balad 10. Transdermal Celebration - Some great 12 string by Dave. Very poppy with some hummer to finish.

Please Devin, Next album please do a remake of Ocean Machines of Ass Sordid Demos

Report this review (#1600588)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is another excellent release by Devin Townsend. He can create a wall of sound like NO ONE else. His unique signature sound is all over Transcendence, and it just has a nice flow from track to track to keep the listener interested. He has consistently produced one high quality release after another which gives him an amazing catalog of work. Transcendence has excellent musicianship, stellar vocals, and angelic layers of background vocals and rifts that make it another fantastic release. While some may say his low budget Ziltoid is his best, Transcendence can hang with any other Devin Townsend album. If you like Devin Townsend while he is having fun with Ziltoid, or just putting his perfectionist sound engineer qualities to work, Transcendence is a must have for your collection. It is highly recommended to buy the deluxe version since it has some excellent tracks for progressive metal fans. 4.5 stars
Report this review (#1611406)
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team
2 stars Sounds like Devy. Feels like Devy. It is Devy! No matter how many times I hear pleas of Devin Townsend's "variation" and "eclectic" or "chameleonic" sound experimentations I always hear . . . Devin Townsend. With each song, on each album I struggle to hear Devy's murky though often beautiful vocals (and interesting lyrics) among the ubiquitous walls of guitar sound--or else I'm faced with his screaming approach which always makes me wonder why he has to scream: Is his screaming so necessary for the effective delivery of his subject matter? This album is, to my ears, no different. The songs' chord progressions are as constant and monotonous as ever. The existence of any other instrument other than guitar (and drums) is, as usual, completely drowned out (by the guitars). (And people actually like this!) I don't get it. With each song I open my ears, my mind, my heart--I find myself thinking, "This has been getting great reviews--great praise--maybe this is the album that will turn me," or "This might turn out to be great!" or "This might get better" or "He's singing about something important" or "He's so intelligent!" but each time I am only let down; each time I find that I'm just making excuses. "Other people love this so I must be missing something! What is it? What is the key to accessing the joy, love, admiration, and respect for Devin Townsend's music?" 'cuz, try as I do--over and over and over again--I'm not getting it. If I were writing songs to accompany these lyrical messages I would be choosing music of a very different nature. If I were singing the lyrics of these relevant and 'important' messages that I want to get out to large audiences I would not be choosing such an abrasive delivery style. But that's just me. People also go to great lengths to extoll the engineering and production of Devin's albums. I'm just not sure how the delivery of song after song of hazy, murky, fuzzy, affrontery constitutes great production. As I've mused before: I wonder what happens to water molecules (Emoto), plants (Thomkins and Bird), and human brains (Tomatis, Monroe, Gass, et al.) with repeated or constant exposure to this type of music. Another album gets dumped into my "Devin Townsend--try again later" pile . . . . Maybe someday I'll get it. After all, I finally got Gentle Giant! (... after 35 years)
Report this review (#1611795)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm not sure how I feel about it on this album, but then Dev has his own sound and if you're after more of the same or more from the early days then at least the first half is definitely for you. There is ultimately no doubting the genius that is Devin Townsend. I however keep getting sucked into the hole of feeling like he's repeating himself until I fall in love with him all over again when he plays live. This album feels no different to that as I am sure there will be brilliant live performances even though this album on the whole feels a bit same-y.

Truth - You can immediately tell this is Devin - the wall of music hits you in the face and he just loves re-imagining his earlier pieces of music. This latest one from the earlier "Infinity" album. A solid start which reminds us yes this is Devy. He hasn't changed (despite the ending of the song suggesting it has)

Stormbending - Starts off a little slower than the name of the piece would have me believe. The wall of sound is as thick as ever and the drums are bombastic as ever. There it is! The change of pace into some heroics before a melody arises from the heavenly sound of Devins guitar and then the contrast with the softer vocals. Some nice work so far. In comes the choir and the high pitched vocals of Devin to finish off the piece. A beautiful yet familiar track to anyone who is a fan of Devin.

Failure - This starts off feeling so much like Planet of the Apes, but then launches into a piece in its own right (Devin definitely likes re-visiting his earlier stuff in this album so far). The lyrics on this song are just superb and the solo suitably weird at first before very much becoming part of the drive. Absolutely beautiful piece of music.

Secret Sciences - Begins almost like something like from Ocean Machine. Boy this is really becoming a trend. Anneke provides some nice backing in the middle of this song. Good to hear her beautiful voice again. I can't help but zone out a little bit in this middle period as the song seems to meander in it's Deviness. I'm a little bit disappointed in that but then it all comes together nicely in the end with the typical DT climax.

Higher - Nothing untoward to start with which means there has to be some sort of brutal contrast soon. Some lovely soft vocals kick in to accompany the feel. Very nice. In comes the change before settling down into a nice groove and then back to the bombastic feel to interrupt just as I thought I knew where this was going. Some brutal metal in the 5th minute with brilliant guitar lines and it just keeps getting heavier as this goes on! This is going to be a hit with a live crowd. 8 minutes in and the music goes from heavy passage to heavy passage. It's a brilliant listen, before the choir kicks in for the final portion of the song. This song feels like it has everything Devin has ever done in it.

Stars - This is Devin back to his heavy metal/rock best, or so I thought, because he then dials it back into melancholy mode with some nice backing by Anneke once again. I feel like this song will get a lot of rotation. The melodies work so well against each other and the vocal line is so easy to sing.

Transcendence - What a start with that drumming! Wow. In comes a male choir this time before settling in with Anneke and Devin call and responding and then back to the chorus again. This is truly beautiful so far. The majesty of the piece continues even into the guitar solo and up toward the climax of the song. That was epic.

Offer Your Light - Woah! This song does not let up. Anneke again providing some beautiful vocals, then Devin comes in with his rough feel as the guitars drive, the melody soars and the drums round out the epicness. This song is a true wall, with so much happening at once. The change on around 2:30 is a welcome breath of air before we dive straight back into it. This song absolutely rocks perhaps at the risk of sounding like a wall of Devy-bricks have just been dumped on you

From The Heart - Devin knows how to make an epic introduction for his 8 minute songs. This is no exception. Even the lyrics are absolutely striking and the chorus is beautiful beyond words. Townsend really knows his own sound and keeps delivering in the same vein. Just as the song appears to be trailing off it sits into a lovely moody passage

Transdermal Celebration - Devin has a knack for leaving you with hope, happiness and optimism and this is no exception to that theme. The motif here is probably the best on the album before trailing off into an ethereal sea to see out the album.

Report this review (#1612382)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2016 | Review Permalink
FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Transcendence" is the seventh installment in the Devin Townsend Project discography and was released earlier this month. After a highly prolific release period from 2009 to 2014, which included the original four DTP albums, a live album, a box set of the four albums and live album and two discs of bonus material, a fifth DTP album "Epicloud", the Casualties of Cool album that had a special edition with an extra disc of bonus material, and the double album of DTP's "Sky Blue" and the Ziltoid sequel "Zed Squared", Devin Townsend prepared for a live performance of Ziltoid at the Albert Hall and then took a much-needed rest. On his web site he wrote that he had several ideas brewing for new albums including a project where he would play only bass guitar and another project that would include an Icelandic choir among other things. No matter what was to come, no one could be sure exactly what the Mad Man of Metal was going to do next, especially after surprise albums like "Ki", "Ghost" and "Casualties of Cool" which were so different from his more established, very loud wall of sound, aggressive pop metal approach.

At first I was a little disappointed with this album because it was exactly another installment in the very loud wall of sound aggressive pop metal approach. As we've heard on albums like "Terria", "Infinity", "Epicloud" and even "Zed Squared", Devin and the band play loud and layered heavy guitar music with a triad of screamed vocals that could make a poltergeist crap itself, soaring operatic vocals, and gentle vocals that could put a cranky baby to sleep. Guest vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen, a regular on DTP releases, appears once again, though this time she takes less of a lead role than on "Addicted" and "Sky Blue". The music is generally a blend of aggressive heavy music and variations of adult contemporary progressive pop (by that I mean no bee-bop, bubble gum pop) but all filtered through the concept of overcoming lack of confidence and a tendency toward self-deprecation, hence the title and theme of "Transcendence".

As with "Epicloud" and perhaps even more so with "Sky Blue", the ultra heavy/aggro sound that Devin is known for at times is restrained here and only brought out in special moments that require that angst effect. There's actually a lot of acoustic guitar here compared to the other two albums mentioned above in this paragraph and even when the heavy electric guitars are thundering away it's possible to pick out the strummed acoustic guitar in some tracks. By the end of the album there's a noticeable change in direction toward lighter music with some very pleasing and beautiful moments. Of course, Devin's music often has what I call the audio equivalent of the swimming pool chlorine effect, which is because when I was a kid, after coming out of the pool I could see hazy rainbows around any light sources because of the chlorine in the water. Devin's mixing approach has a hazy, nebulous, echoing cloud of sound around the vocals, keyboards and guitars, and there's no exception here.

As I stated earlier, I was originally disappointed and that was because I had been expecting possibly hearing something really new and refreshing instead of what I quickly concluded was part three in the trilogy of "new" DTP albums that includes "Epicloud" and "Sky Blue". Remember that the original concept of the Devin Townsend Project was to release four distinctly different albums which is what we got with "Addicted", "Ki", "Deconstruction", and "Ghost". These latter three follow a more similar formula which could be considered the Devin Townsend style of the 2010's. However, after the third and fourth listen through, I found myself enjoying this new album more. It also made me want to go back and listen to a variety of songs from Devin's catalogue and I listened to a 58-song mixed playlist that also included songs from his other band, the defunct extreme metal outfit Strapping Young Lad. Thinking about it now, "Transcendence" is very much a Devin Townsend album.

I bought the special edition with a bonus disc called "Holding Patterns" which features two additional completed tracks and a bunch of demos which actually sound good enough to not be called demos (Devin says that demos are prepared ready to hear as they should sound though the songs might still undergo some changes in the mixing before growing out of their demo status). While the songs on "Transcendence" are meant to be based on deeper and more profound notions, the tracks on the bonus disc are a variety of moods including high-speed, aggro metal, pop metal, a song resembling a dance remix of an eighties dance rock song done in DTP style, and a classic rock and roll song with piano but also done in the wall-of-sound, in-your-face style of DTP. There's also an instrumental featuring Devin's lead guitar playing, which is actually very good but he downplays it in the album notes.

Fans of Devin will have nothing to complain about here. It's yet another solid album. Newcomers will be alright to hear this album first, though I personally would recommend starting with "Terria" and "Synchestra". I have been wavering about the star rating, unsure of whether to award four stars or three. I would choose either depending on my feeling at the time of listening to the album. For today, I will give it only three stars simply because I don't feel Devin has given us anything really new. For someone who really has tried to stretch out and create his own distinct concoctions of music, this album is in a way an easy approach for him to follow.

Incidentally, the Japanese edition comes with three additional demo tracks, and I was very tempted to pay the extra 1,000 yen to get them. I really wanted to hear the song called "Sophie's Boobies". But economy and reason got the better of me and I just bought the regular double-disc edition.

Report this review (#1617166)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2016 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars More Focused but Still Searching

I love Devin Townsend. He has been my favorite artist for some years now, to the point that my children wear his t- shirts around the house casually. I've given him a number of 5 star reviews. I've seen him live, hmmm, old men have a tough time counting. Most recent concert was in support of TRANSCENDENCE and it was an amazing night.

However, things have been slowly stagnating in Devland for awhile. Most of the newer albums contain scattered glimpses of brilliance with too much good but typical Devy. While the creative well was very very deep, I see less and less new coming from my favorite artist. The prime example of this is his choice to re-record old classics, which actually worked with "Hyperdrive" on ADDICTED due to Annike's new vocals, and to a degree on EPICLOUD's "Kingdom" due to vastly improved production.

But on TRANSCEDENCE, Devy opens with a remade version of INFINITY's "Truth" and completely sucks the life out of it. While the layers are thicker, the sounds more refined, and the sound clearly more polished, the emotion and dynamic impact of the song is dim in comparison. Listen to the two "Alleluia" sections side by side to hear this most obviously. The song is phenomenal, but this version is a shining example of what should have been a bonus track instead of the album lead. Similarly, the cover of Ween's "Transdermal Celebration" just lacks the emotional impact - though I appreciate being introduced to a great song, check out the original if you haven't.

Luckily, there is some spark in this album. "Stormbending," while clearly prototypical Devy, hits the vast space-metal vibe that I love, which is enhanced by it trippy video, and has a fun tapping solo by guitarist Dave Young. "Time is a human construct" should have been the opening line of the album. The lead single "Failure" did not blow me away on first listen, but with a few spins I've come to really appreciate its depth. It highlights how much Devy's already range-y voice has improved substantially over the last decade, and his wah-solo is one of his best. The syncopated riff was awesome live. "Secret Sciences" is a mixed bag moving from elements of 80's power ballad to symphonic quirkiness - ok but not my fave from the album. "Higher" and the title track follow the lead of "Stormbending" - very strong examples of the Devy sound but familiar. "Stars" and "Offer Your Light" fill the now requisite ballad and power-pop slots on the album. "From the Heart" is actually two songs stuck together - another power ballad, and then a New Age exploration which is pleasant enough.

Unlike Z2, TRANSCENDENCE holds together quite well. The flow of the album's high and lows works well. Dev says that he allowed more songwriting input from his band mates and I believe that the performances of the band members benefit from this. The bonus tracks are worth a listen, with "Into the Sun" clearly alluding to Strapping Young Lad days, and "Monkey Mind" representing Dev playing around in the Guitar Hero playground.

Overall, this is exactly what it is - the product of a marvelously talented musician, having honed his craft to a unique signature sound but also having slipped into middle age and struggling to find inspiration. Old fans like me will keep buying and attending concerts, but also reaching for our INFINITY records.

Report this review (#1802550)
Posted Thursday, October 12, 2017 | Review Permalink

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