Music + Cyborg Sounds: Devin Townsend ~ Empath +

Grievous 3D

Is Currently In Stasis
Let there be light
Let there be moon
Let there be stars and let there be you
Let there be monsters, let there be pain
Let us begin to live again

Genesis ~ Devin Townsend


In the year 1997 I was introduced to Devin Townsend.

I mean I didn't meet him personally (as cool as that would have been) but I did see
a music video on the metal show that ran on the Australian cable music channel.

After witnessing this video I went out I picked up Strapping Young Lad's City
album & after listening to it...well...I've been a Devin Townsend fan ever since.

Through the chaotic, craziness of Strapping Young Lad, the bleak, depressive metal
of Ocean Machine, the sci-fi, heavy metal radio drama of Ziltoid & the greatest pop
metal ever created by the Devin Townsend Band. I have been listening to Devin
Townsend for 22 years.

I just want to put that out there front & center because I am a Devin Townsend
fanboy & proud of it.

So this year on his 25th year anniversary of being know in the metal scene Devin
Townsend has released Empath...and after 25 years & so many amazing albums from
his many different bands & projects "Hevy Devy" has released what maybe his most
incredible creation yet.

Empath takes EVERYTHING Devin Townsend has ever done (even when he was singing
for Steve Vai) & distills it down into an epic, sprawling, diverse & insane 74 minute metal
masterpiece...and its glorious.

Every single second of it is just glorious...

Its almost hard for me to try & convey in words just how amazing this album...
this musical piece of art is.

But I'm going to try because I think you all need to listen to this album at least
once & I hope my in-depth words can convince you to give it at least one spin,

So I'm going to try & give you all a track by track rundown of this album...even if
that is kind of pointless because Empath is not a "normal" album...but again I'm
trying my best here.

So here we go...

1). Castaway:
We are first greeted with sounds of the ocean & sea birds before the guitar begins
setting a strange summer mood before the choir starts up & this short introduction
begins to morph into something more grand.

2). Genesis:
Castaway "drifts" into Genesis & if you want to know what this album is truly like
I suggest giving Genesis a listen. If Empath is Devin's entire career distilled into one
album...then Genesis is Empath distilled into one song. Female vocals, disco beats
& death metal riffage all await you as does possibly the catchiest chorus Devin has
ever penned.

3). Spirits Will Collide:
Is up next & its possibly the most "grounded" song on the album & by that I mean its
an epic stadium rock anthem featuring a female choir & an uplifting melody that could
be the soundtrack for ascending into heaven itself. I'm not kidding. It reminds me of
Queen covered by Rush through a filter of Black Sabbath.

4). Evermore:
Follows & while it continues the rock opera feel of the last track it eventually breaks
free with some funk laden passages before a powerful, driving chorus takes over & slams
you repeatedly in the face. This song seems to swing & sway but it never truly goes off
the rails with the drums & overall tempo holding it together.

Yes...I have told Solid Snake Solid Snake about the kitty in the video.

5). Sprite:
And this is where the album may get too weird for some as this track basically sounds
like a prog rock song written for a Disney film. I know that sound strange but you truly
have to hear this track to understand what I'm saying. Its very whimsical...which I will
admit doesn't go well with metal...but this is Devin it works.

6). Hear Me:
And as if Devin knew Sprite would turn some listeners off he now gives us something that
could have easily taken a spot on a Strapping Young Lad album. Hear Me is fast, brutal,
loud & its that special kind of metal that only Devin can deliver. We all hear you buddy.

7). Why?:
And now we get a waltz. I'm totally serious. Why? is a beautiful number that I could
honestly picture Devin singing in a film during one of those high budget dance/ballroom
scenes. I mean there is the odd death metal roar in the vocals but just try to listen to
this song & not appreciate its pomp & grandeur. The song does eventually pick up its
pace in the final moments as a drummer lends a hand to "bring it home" but overall its
a fantastic track.

8). Borderlands:
At 11 minutes "album centerpiece" Borderlands has many twists & turns but it continues
the "Ballroom Opera" vibe of Why? before becoming something of a prog rock song with
constant sounds & samples jumping out at you. Of course its never that easy with Devin
& at the 4 minute mark the sounds of opener Castaway flow back into our ears before some
mellow vocals take full control of the track before jumping back into the prog rock at
the 7 minute mark. Eventually the rock stops as some quiet keyboard & synth parts
takeover to bring this track to a close as it segues into...

9). Requiem:
Which is more operatic choir music which again wouldn't sound out of place on a fantasy film
score & that seemingly bring the album to a close.

10). Singularity - Adrift:
But we aren't done yet my friends. With track 10 begins the six part, 23 minute epic
know as Singularity which while divided into different tracks flows seamlessly as one
body of work.

Adrift serves the same role as Castaway acting as a quiet atmosphere building introduction
with acoustic guitars, choir vocals & Devin cutting loose with some of his best lead vocals

11). Singularity - I Am I:
Then I Am I cuts loose with some "wall of noise" thunder & industrial elements that sound
like a heavier Nine Inch Nails with a grand choir lending the track some extra power. This
"section" does mellow towards its end only to lead into...

12). Singularity - There Be Monsters:
One of the heaviest tracks Devin has ever penned. There Be Monsters almost feels like Devin
trying to write a black metal/thrash tune & it works...because of course it does. This is
another track that will have Strapping Young Lad fans smiling with glee until this section
gives way to...

13. Singularity - Curious Gods:
Which once again shifts to that "Disney soundtrack" vibe before vocal samples, whistling &
quirky beats takeover completely making the album now sound like a music box competing with
the national news playing on the TV nearby. The samples & static build towards the end as...

14. Singularity - Silicon Scientists:
Begins with its industrial bounce & spoken word "machine" vocals...only to grind to a halt
as Devin actually begins to sing again which transforms the track into...

15. Singularity - Here Comes The Sun!:
Which honestly feels like one of Devin's "Pop Metal" tracks from Addicted or Epicloud. Its
an important track because it truly does feel like it bringing this entire masterpiece to
an end as its catchy riffs, melodic vocals & classical guitar solo truly do slot the final
piece of this truly amazing puzzle in to place. It almost feels like a thank you & goodbye
and as the album slowly fades to audio nothingness you realize you have made it through
Empath...for better...or maybe for worse.


Well...that's it.

That is me trying to describe Devin Townsend's Empath with words...but frankly my words don't
do it justice. Now like I admitted earlier in this piece I am long time Devin Townsend fanboy
who has enjoyed nearly everything with his name attached to it...but I think Empath is more
important than that fact.

I think Empath is important enough that you should all hear it & make up your own mind.

Is it a modern day musical metal masterpiece or is it something much less than that?

For about I just score it.

10 out of 10

Thank you for creating this Devin. I'll always have your back no matter what.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this...and I hope it convinces all of you to open
your ears & minds to the mad scientist of metal Devin Townsend.

Just FYI...I am currently working on another larger written project which I hope to have
posted by late August. Keep an eye out for that as its something (hopefully) the entire
forum can enjoy.

Take care & I'll see you all around the traps.
  • LOL
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