Album review: DEVIN TOWNSEND – Empath

Hevy Devy/Inside Out [Release date 29.03.19]

Devin Townsend has rested his Project and with ‘Empath’ we have his first solo album since ‘Ziltoid’. Guests include regular contributor Anneke van Giersbergen, Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, Frank Zappa alumni Mike Keneally as music director, Steve Vai and the Elektra Women’s Choir.

Explaining the rationale behind the album Devin said “Empath, true to the name, is about allowing the audience a feeling for a variety of musical emotions. The musical dynamics represented on this single album are broad, challenging, and immense.” It is indeed his most varied album so far, one minute choral parts on ‘Requiem’ and then out and heavy metal in the Strapping Young Lad vein on ‘Hear Me’ (Chad Kroeger guests on this one).

Spoken word on the dark fairy tale ‘Sprite’ harks to the ‘Ziltoid’ days, whilst ‘Why?’ is a whimsical classical piece with a West End production – well until the growls kick in. Now there’s an album, Dev does the classics – a Hooked On Dev.

‘Genesis’ (the drumming on this is something else and the disco parts simply adds to the overall fun) and ‘Spirits Will Collide’ are the album’s most instant songs. The latter cleverly mixing choirs and the uplifting choruses he does so well.

‘Singularity’ is the album’s epic piece, clocking in at over twenty three minutes. It encompasses choral parts, metal bombast and a very melodic and uplifting final five minutes, similar to anything of the excellent ‘Epicloud’ album.

Make sure you listen on headphones so you don’t miss any of the musical treats and cats!

The musical genius and enigma that is Devin Townsend continues to entertain and amaze in equal measure. ‘Empath’ is his musical manifesto containing parts of all his musical adventures to date and whilst not every song may appeal, there is plenty on here for everyone. ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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