"Devolution Series #1: Acoustically Inclined: Live in Leeds" (Century Media; 2021)

Reviewed by Snidermann

There are a few artists that open their mind to you through their music and you get a glimpse of what is going on in there: Frank Zappa, Les Claypool (Primus), Perry Ferrell (Jane’s Addiction), Neil Peart (drummer and lyricist for Rush), Rob Zombie and Devin Townsend (just to name a few).  I have been listening to Devin Townsend since 2007 when I reviewed "Ziltoid the Omniscient" and just recently "Empath" in 2019. 

"Devolution Series #1 Acoustically Inclined: Live in Leeds" (how's that for a lengthy title?) is simply Townsend, a guitar and an audience. No more is needed nor wanted as far as I am concerned. Townsend states that because of the all-encompassing process of performing, producing and singing involved in the recording of "Empath," he needed to perform the music acoustically and this is the product of those performances.

This recording really shows Devin’s personality just about better than any of his other recordings. I think I understand him more now than before after listening to his music.  Not only does the music sound fantastic, but between songs he is cracking jokes that are extremely funny. 

The first part of this album's title is "Devolution Series #1." If this is only the first one, I can’t wait to listen to the rest of the series. I see by checking out his discography, that he has "Quarantine Concerts" 1 - 3 which were not on any label but rather a self-release. There are also three other releases that are called "Guitar Improvisation" 1 – 3, with one one-hour long song on each.  Man, I cant wait to delve into all this super cool Devin Townsend material! I think he may be becoming my favorite performer of the minute.  Peace, music lovers!

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"Empath" (Inside Out; 2019)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Devin Townsend simply astounds me each and every time I listen to him. The current release is "Empath" and, of course, it is some very high quality music just like each and very riff, track and song you have ever heard him do. Just go back to any song, any recording, and you will come up with the same conclusion I have: Devin Townsend simply rocks fucking hard right from the very first cut he did in some obscure young adolescent band to the present. This dude knows how to rock'n'roll right down to his DNA.

I do love each section of Devin's musical life: I love the Strapping Young Lads area. His solo material is very strong and I would be remiss if I did not at least mention "Ziltoid" (the character of Ziltoid is better witnessed that discussed. Let me just say, it is well worth the effort.

I loved "Empath." It is strong, hard and full of life. It actually reminds me of a large stage play taking place with two thousand people in the audience, just waiting for the next song and note to be sung and or played.

"Empath" should be played with all the lights off, and listened to with headphones and on a very high volume. I will tell you, you won't be disappointed.

Rock on Devin! I just cant wait to check out albums numbers two and three from the Ziltoid saga! "Sky Blue" and "Dark Matter."

In my humble opinion, life is better when Devin Townsend is making music.

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"Addicted" (Inside Out; 2009)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Eschewing the lifestyle demands of the album, tour, and repeat cycle of metal warrior-dom by disbanding his musical projects, enigmatic guru of heaviness Devin Townsend took his time away from the grind to recharge, reconnect, and enjoy his family. Now achieving a balance which included getting fully clean and sober, an inevitable comeback was realized, and latest collection "Addicted," is the second installment of the four-part series of albums by this prolific metal artist, showcasing his newfound musical paradigm’s direction.

Discernibly throbbing and upbeat throughout yet fortified with the trademark Townsend soul-stomping wall of sound (think more Sevendust and Static X structures with parts of Swedish melodic metal strewn in), this 10-track disc’s affable approach flexes its melodic muscle with an electric energy that radiates an buoyancy illuminated by vocals from the stellar Anneke van Giersbergen of The Gathering, who lends her unmistakable charm and grace to a surprising majority of this affair, most notably on the pop-metal sensation “Bend It Like Bender!” and the rousing closer “Awake!”

While ending song titles with exclamation points seems a bit pretentious, it further accelerates an overall feeling of celebration, acting as an extra ingredient that assists the shared exhilaration of the heavy guitar, massive keyboard presence, and tremendous production value smorgasbord. Never predictable, Townsend’s flowing creativity coupled with a focused sense of clarity warrants the excitement that resonates from this album, giving adventurous metal fans everywhere something to sink their teeth into.

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"Ki" (Inside Out; 2009)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Devin Townsend, the man responsible for Strapping Young Lad (which I do not particularly like) and "Ziltoid The Omniscient" (which I really liked) now releases "Ki," which fits somewhere in between.

Townsend really knows how to craft a song and "Ki" has some really great tunes. I know that, like "Ziltoid," there is a story in there somewhere, but I have yet to fully discover it. The songs range from really cool rock'n'roll tunes to tracks that are something less than interesting. Maybe repeated listenings will unravel the story and allow the other songs to grow on me.

Either way, Devin Townsend is one talented man and I am just grateful that he continues to make really good music.

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"Ziltoid the Omniscient" (Hevy Devy / Inside Out; 2007)

Reviewed by Snidermann

This bizarrely entitled CD is the solo concept album by Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad. The story revolves around Ziltoid, an omniscient being, who has come to earth in search of the perfect cup of coffee. When the cup that is given to him is less than perfect, Ziltoid decides to attack Earth.

That's only part of the story; there's much more. And, if you are interested in science fiction and metal music, Ziltoid The Omniscient is right up your alley. The concept of this CD is way out there, and the music over the top, but that's actually what I liked most about this recording. The sci-fi aspect of Ziltoid appeals to my interest of the strange and the weird and this CD is both in great quantities. 

Devin Townsend has a mega hit on his hands and, frankly, who needs Strapping Young Lad? I'll take Ziltoid The Omniscient any day!

This CD will almost definitely make my Top Ten of 2007. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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