Devin Townsend Debuts ‘Genesis’ Live Clip From New Live Recording; Announces Information For Upcoming Live Streaming Concert

Courtey: InsideOut Music

Devin Townsend is giving audiences their first taste of his new live recording.

Townsend debuted the live clip for his performance of ‘Genesis’ Friday.  The performance is featured in his forthcoming live recording Order of MagnitudeEmpath Live Volume 1.  The recording is scheduled for release Oct. 23 through InsideOut Music.

Townsend talked about the video and song in a recent interview.

“This song, ‘Genesis’ from my latest album Empath seemed an appropriate way to introduce this concert to the audience,” he said. “It’s kind of an example of ‘musical anarchy’ in some ways- as the song is all over the place structurally to begin with.  But to have a chaotic piece of music, played by these extraordinary musicians I had the honour of being with, in a no-holds-barred production, was really cathartic. It was about being free to do whatever we wanted in a time where rigid ideas of what is acceptable or not are stronger than ever.”

The concert featured in Order of MagnitudeEmpath Live Volume 1 was recorded in December 2019 in London, UK.  The concert was the penultimate show in Townsend’s tour in support of Empath.  Empath was re-issued June 5 through InsideOut Music with a bonus disc and two Blu-ray discs.

The first Blu-ray features a 5.1 Surround Sound mix of Empath crafted by Townsend himself, with visuals for the entire album, plus a stereo visualizer.  The second Blu-ray contains a bonus live performance titled Acoustically Inclined — Live in Leeds.  the concert, captured during Townsend’s April 2019 acoustic tour, features performances of some of Townsend’s most beloved songs, such as ‘Love?,’ ‘Deadhead,’ and ‘Things Beyond Things.’

Order of MagnitudeEmpath Live Volume 1 will release on a limited deluxe 2CD/Blu-ray/DVD artbook; Limited edition 2CD/DVD package; Blu-ray; gatefold 3LP/2CD vinyl box, and digital album.  The Blu-ray features a behind-the-scenes documentary and 5.1 surround sound mix.  The DVD features a 5.1 surround sound mix.  Pre-orders are open now.

The recording’s track listing is noted below.

The track-listing is as follows:
1.Borderlands
2.Evermore
3.War
4.Sprite
5.Gigpig Jam
6.Coast
7.Gato
8.Heavens End
9.Ain’t Never Gonna Win
10.Deadhead
11.Why?
12.Lucky Animals
13.Castaway/Genesis
14.Spirits Will Collide
15.Disco Inferno
16.Kingdom

 

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

In related news, Devin Townsend will hold a live, streaming by request set at 4 p.m. ET on Sept. 5.  Tickets are available here.  Fans can pre-order a shirt that celebrates the concert event here.  A trailer for the streaming show is itself streaming here.

More information on Devin Townsend’s upcoming streaming concert and his new live recording is available online along with all of his latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.hevydevy.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dvntownsend

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/dvntownsend

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

U.D.O.’s Latest LP Will Unite Music Lovers Around The World

Courtesy: AFM Records

Veteran rock band U.D.O. returns Friday with its 17th full-length studio recording.  Titled We Are 1, the 15-song record features the band performing its new compositions with the Concert Band of the German Armed Forces.  While rock bands performing and recording with non-rock organizations is anything but out of the ordinary nowadays, the fact that the entire record is composed of new songs is itself interesting.  The arrangements that make up the album’s body offer audiences plenty to appreciate, as do the lyrical themes that accompany that musical content.  Each item will be addressed in itself here.  When they are considered with the record’s sequencing, all three elements make the album in whole a truly unique presentation that rock and metal fans alike will appreciate.

U.D.O.’s latest album We Are 1 is an impressive new entry from the veteran rock band.  There is no doubt in listening through the 75-minute record, that it will resonate with rock and metal fans alike.  That is due in part to the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are full-on rock meets classical compositions that bear their own unique identity separate from the works that acts, such as Metallica and KISS have crafted.  These new, original works are such unique orchestrations.  One actually could argue that they are stylistically more similar to works from Devin Townsend’s latest album Empath (2019).  That comparison stems from the use of the choral element, the strings, the brass and woodwinds together.  Each arrangement sounds so epic even in a more reserved moment, such as in ‘Blindfold (The Last Defender).’  Now not having liner notes to reference, it is not known who the female vocalist is in this song, but her vocals, along with the bells, drums and harp make this song feel cinematic in its own right, especially with all of the attention to the dynamic changes throughout the song.  ‘Blackout’ — which immediately follows ‘Blindfold (The Last Defender)’ — is another example of how powerful the arrangements are in this record.  This nearly three-minute song’s brass and percussion come together to make the song sound like something that would be a perfect fit in the soundtrack for some military movie from the 80s and 90s.  That huge opening that leads into the immediate softer, more contemplative sound, is so powerful especially as that noted softer sound crescendos back into something more constant throughout the rest of the song.  On yet another hand, the use of the bagpipes, tympani, snare drum and standard rock elements come together in ‘Beyond Gravity’ to make this song yet another notable addition to the album that shows in its own right, why these arrangements are so important to examine.  There’s no attempt here to rip off AC/DC or any other band that uses bagpipes.  There’s not even any attempt to copy any other act.  It is its own unique presentation that is certain to become a favorite on record and in a live setting when and if music can ever go live again.  It’s just one more way in which the album’s musical arrangements prove so important to its general presentation.  When it and the rest of the album’s arrangements are considered together, the album’s diverse musical styles and elements collectively build a strong foundation for the LP’s presentation.  In themselves, they make a clear argument as to why this record is one of the year’s top new rock albums.  It might not even be a stretch to call it potentially one of the year’s top new overall albums if only for its musical aspect.  Of course the musical aspect is just one reason to take in this record.  The album’s lyrical content adds to its appeal.

The lyrical content featured in We Are 1 runs through one general topic, that topic being concerns about the state of the world.  Band founder and namesake Udo Dirkschneider talked about that overarching theme in a recent interview.  He said of the album’s general theme, “We all live on this planet.  No matter who we are or what we do, we all just have this one planet.  There is no planet B.  When I see the pictures of all the plastic in our oceans and when I hear about the next climate catastrophe in the news, I really start wondering how respectless and irresponsible we sometimes are.  It’s not just about us.  It’s also about all the others and last but not least, about our children!”  That concern that he voiced in the noted comments is shown throughout this record in a variety of fashions.  ‘Here We Go Again,’ for instance takes on concerns over how the Trump administration has handled the issue of immigration.  Dirkschneider notes in this blues rock based song’s lyrical side, “Who has got the right to decide/Who’s gonna live and who’s gonna die/People on the street and people on the sea/Always on the run/Trying to be free/People on the left/People on the right/Everywhere you look/Uptight/Living in a cell/Living in a cage/Fairy tale is over…Everybody’s…longing for a new way/Everybody’s got the right/turning darkness into light/here we go again…Time to show again.”  From here, the song makes mention of corrupt elections and trump’s cries of “fake news” every time that legitimate news agencies call BS on his lies in the song’s second verse.  Given, this is hardly the first time that any musical act has taken on the corruption of the Trump administration and Trump himself, but it is still approached in a unique fashion here that is certain to keep listeners engaged.  It is just one of the ways in which the album’s lyrical themes prove pivotal in their own right to the album.  The album’s title track, which comes early in its run, is clearly another way in which the record’s lyrics show their importance.

‘We Are One’ is a call for unity.  Again, referencing Dirkschneider’s noted statements, the song’s lyrical theme makes crystal clear sense.  He, his band mates and the choir that joins them sings in the song’s chorus, “What are we waiting for/Before we lose control/We are one/We are free/And we need a place to be/We are one/We will rise/Gonna be no compromise/We are one/We are free/And we need a place to be/We are one/We will rise/Never be a compromise.”  This comes after Dirkschneider makes note in the song’s lead verse, of people dealing with all the negativity that is on television nowadays and the impact thereof.  He continues the commentary in similar fashion in the song’s second verse, asking “Do you enjoy watching people die?” before reminding listeners again that “We are one.”  It’s that call to unity and action that is just as needed and welcome today as ever, and just one more way in which the album’s lyrical themes prove so pivotal to this album.  ‘Rebel Town’ is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.

The lyrical theme at the center of ‘Rebel Town’ is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of East and West Germany’s unification.  The song makes mention here of revolution and people sacrificing, and indirectly of people tearing down the Berlin Wall.  Dirkschneider even goes so far as to state at one point, “Chase away the leaders/Let them rot in hell/Believe in what you’re fighting for/Let them hear the rebel yell.”  This is that call again, this time about people coming together to remove the barrier between the two Germanies “in this little town.”  The use of the horns and overall orchestral elements here really paints such a vivid picture of that key moment in history.  This is unique if not original in terms of songs’ lyrical themes from one to the next.  This critic in particular is hard-pressed to find another band that has ever written a song about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany.  Keeping that in mind, the song is yet another example of what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to its whole.  When it is considered along with the other noted themes and those in the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the album’s lyrical content works with the album’s musical content to make the LP’s body overall such that it will guarantee listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  Even with all of this in mind, there is still one more item to note in examining the album’s presentation – its sequencing.

The sequencing of We Are 1 is important to note because it displays the time and thought that went into maintaining the album’s energy throughout.  Seventy-five minutes is a long span.  Given it isn’t the length of a full concert, but it is still a long run time for a standard studio recording.  To that end, the sequencing plays a key part in ensuring listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  The album opens just as strongly as it closes and vice versa.  In-between, the energy rises and falls at all of the right points from one to the next and even within each of the songs.  Some of the songs start, stay and end strong while others, such as ‘Love and Sin’ and ‘Children of the World’ open with a semi-mysterious tone before launching into a full-on cinematic approach that is a fit for any epic blockbuster’s soundtrack.  ‘Blindfold (The Last Defender)’ and ‘Blackout’ serve as solid break points for the album’s sequence, giving listeners something soft, and then fully orchestra in the vein of movie soundtrack composer Hans Zimmer before the album returns to its initial approach.  ‘Natural Forces,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is another good break point, giving listeners more of the Hans Zimmer style presentation.  From here on out, the album’s energy switches direction, rises and falls at all of the right moments, ensuring just as much as ever, listeners’ engagement and entertainment right to the album’s end.  When all of this is considered along with the impact of We Are 1’s musical and lyrical content overall, all three elements come together to make this album a truly outstanding offering from U.D.O. that will appeal not only to rock and metal aficionados but to music lovers in general.

U.D.O.’s latest full-length studio recording We Are 1 is one of the most pleasant musical surprises of 2020 so far.  While it features a rock band working with an orchestra, it can’t be compared to those rock-meets-classical records from the likes of Metallica and KISS by any means or any other band that has taken this approach.  This collection of new songs really is its own, unique presentation that shows more similarities to works from Devin Townsend, composer Hans Zimmer, Epica, Judas Priest and even Joe Satriani (yes, that seems like an odd mix, but it works) than to the noted other acts’ works.  What’s more, the socially conscious lyrical themes that accompany the musical arrangements solidify the album’s presentation even more.  The record’s  sequencing puts the final touch to the album’s presentation.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the LP’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this record not only one of the year’s best new rock and hard rock albums, but potentially one of the year’s best new overall albums.  We Are 1 is scheduled for release Friday through AFM Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of U.D.O.’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.udo-online.de

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/udoonline

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Devin Townsend Debuts ‘Sprite’ Video

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Devin Townsend debuted the video for his latest single this week.

Townsend debuted the video for his new single ‘Sprite‘ Tuesday.  The song is featured in his latest album Empath, which is scheduled for re-issue June 5 through InsideOut Music.

The video, which is part of the new visualizations that will come with the album’s re-issue, is a very artistic presentation that (intentionally or not) pays tribute to the movie 2001A Space Odyssey with its use of the man and woman floating in space.  There is also an octopus that audiences will recognize from Towsend’s video for another of the album’s singles, ‘Genesis‘ as well as a killer whale.

The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Sprite’ is just as artistic as its visual accompaniment that is full of soaring choral elements, guitars, keyboards and even string arrangements.

Pre-orders are open now for the forthcoming re-issue of Empath.  The re-issue of Townsend’s 2019 album features the original release plus a bonus disc and two bonus Blu-ray discs.

The first Blu-ray features a 5.1 Surround Sound mix of Empath crafted by Townsend himself, with visuals for the entire album, plus a stereo visualizer.  The second Blu-ray contains a bonus live performance titled Acoustically Inclined — Live in Leeds.  the concert, captured during Townsend’s April 2019 acoustic tour, features performances of some of Townsend’s most beloved songs, such as ‘Love?,’ ‘Deadhead,’ and ‘Things Beyond Things.’

Townsend offered a statement about the 5.1 Surround Sound mix in a recent interview.

“On a technical level, I guess I have always been dissatisfied with the basic ‘stereo’ format in which the type of music I make gets presented in,” he said. “Whether its headphones, computer speakers, stereos (or basically anything currently), I have had to figure out ways to get the work to function through TWO speakers. I hear things in a particularly orchestrated way, and with the amount of information that typically gets recorded per song, the result has been the dubious ‘wall of sound’ that I keep ending up with. But my intention has never been to make an oppressive experience, but rather something that is immersive and vast.”

“Making it work in two speakers just simply doesn’t quite work for the vision,” he added. “Although I’ve managed to get the point across, (to varying degrees), things always have to compromise to make it all fit. Making the drums speak at the same time as orchestra, cymbals, guitars, choirs, synths etc.…all with my voice on top, ends up with every conceivable frequency fighting for breathing space between those two speakers.
Therefore, I asked the powers that be in my business world, to tolerate one more ‘kick at the can’ when it came to Empath. I wanted to attempt a surround mix and follow the original vision of it being an immersive, multimedia experience for people in the ways I could best achieve at this stage. And although it’s still pretty ‘dense’, with four more sources for the sound to come from, I feel its significantly closer to the original vision here.”

‘Sprite’ is just the latest single released from Empath.  The album has also spawned the aforementioned single ‘Genesis’ as well as the singles ‘Why,’ ‘Spirits Will Collide‘ and ‘Evermore.’

More information on Empath is available online along with all of Devin Townsend’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.devintownsend.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dvntownsend

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/dvntownsend

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Release Date, Specs Announced For Re-Issue Of Devin Townsend’s ‘Empath’

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Devin Townsend’s latest album Empath is getting the re-issue treatment.

EmpathThe Ultimate Edition is scheduled for release June 5 through InsideOut Music.  The re-issue of Townsend’s 2019 album features the original release plus a bonus disc and two bonus Blu-ray discs.

The first Blu-ray features a 5.1 Surround Sound mix of Empath crafted by Townsend himself, with visuals for the entire album, plus a stereo visualizer.  The second Blu-ray contains a bonus live performance titled Acoustically Inclined — Live in Leeds.  the concert, captured during Townsend’s April 2019 acoustic tour, features performances of some of Townsend’s most beloved songs, such as ‘Love?,’ ‘Deadhead,’ and ‘Things Beyond Things.’

Townsend offered a statement about the 5.1 Surround Sound mix in a recent interview.

“On a technical level, I guess I have always been dissatisfied with the basic ‘stereo’ format in which the type of music I make gets presented in,” he said. “Whether its headphones, computer speakers, stereos (or basically anything currently), I have had to figure out ways to get the work to function through TWO speakers. I hear things in a particularly orchestrated way, and with the amount of information that typically gets recorded per song, the result has been the dubious ‘wall of sound’ that I keep ending up with. But my intention has never been to make an oppressive experience, but rather something that is immersive and vast.”

“Making it work in two speakers just simply doesn’t quite work for the vision,” he added. “Although I’ve managed to get the point across, (to varying degrees), things always have to compromise to make it all fit. Making the drums speak at the same time as orchestra, cymbals, guitars, choirs, synths etc.…all with my voice on top, ends up with every conceivable frequency fighting for breathing space between those two speakers.
Therefore, I asked the powers that be in my business world, to tolerate one more ‘kick at the can’ when it came to Empath. I wanted to attempt a surround mix and follow the original vision of it being an immersive, multimedia experience for people in the ways I could best achieve at this stage. And although it’s still pretty ‘dense’, with four more sources for the sound to come from, I feel its significantly closer to the original vision here.”

Pre-orders for EmpathThe Ultimate Edition are open now.

Due to the impact of the global COVID-19 outbreak, many of the concerts that Townsend had planned in support of the album’s re-issue have been rescheduled until 2021.  More information on those rescheduled dates is available online along with all of Townsend’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.hevydevy.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dvntownsend

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dvntownsend

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Hannah Williams & The Affirmations’ New LP Towers Over Its Counterparts In Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Albums List

Courtesy: Record Kicks

As the year finally winds down its final days, the attention for many companies turns to the new year and the new crop of records already planned for the first quarter of the year.  As attentions turn to thew new year and its new albums, attention should also remain on the current year’s albums.  This year produced so many standout records from across the musical universe.  From rock and hard rock to pop to neo-soul and more, the offerings presented to audiences were many to say the very least.  Keeping that in mind, any critic will agree assembling the list of the year’s top new albums overall is a chore, but one that must happen.  This year’s top new albums are mainstream and independent alike, at least on this critic’s list.

Hannah Williams & The Affirmations easily made their way onto this critic’s final musical year-ender list with their new album 50 Foot Woman as did Slipknot, Sara Potenza and even Joel Ross.  Again, this list was anything but easy to assemble, but it did finally come together.  It is presented here complete with five honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2019 Top 10 New Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

  1. Hannah Williams & The Affirmations — 50 Foot Woman
  2. Devin Townsend — Empath
  3. Slipknot — We Are Not Your Kind
  4. Joel Ross — Kingmaker
  5. Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis — Jazz & Art
  6. Lakou Mizik — HaitiaNola
  7. Diana Panton — Cheerful Little Earful
  8. Am I Dead Yet? — Am I Dead Yet?
  9. Carlos Santana — Africa Speaks
  10. The Magpie Salute — Highwater II
  11. Tedeschi Trucks Band — Signs
  12. The Sh-Booms — The Blurred Odyssey
  13. Sara Potenza — Sara Potenza
  14. Wargirl — Wargirl
  15. Hootie & The Blowfish — Imperfect Circle

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Devin Townsend’s ‘Empath’ Gives The Best Feeling For Audiences In This Year’s New Hard Rock/Metal Field

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

This year is one of the strongest in recent memory for metal masses around the world.  This year saw new releases — powerful new releases at that — from some of the most well-known and respected names in the metal community.  Slipknot’s new album We Are Not Your Kind is just one of those important new releases that the metal masses received this year.  Amon Amarth’s new album Berserker gave the masses just as much to appreciate, as did new albums from Dragonforce, Killswitch Engage and The Offering.

Between those records and so many others, it goes without saying that developing a list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums was anything but easy.  That’s especially the case considering the release early this year, of Devin Townsend’s new album Empath, Hyvmine’s new LP Retaliation and up-and-comers Alien Weaponry’s debut album Tu.  This critic took a long time trying to assemble this list.  It was not a chore taken lightly.  As with other lists from this critic, it features the Top 10 New Hard Rock/Metal albums as well as five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2019 Top 10 New Hard Rock/Metal Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW HARD ROCK/METAL ALBUMS

  1. Devin Townsend — Empath
  2. Slipknot — We Are Not Your Kind
  3. Amon Amarth — Berserker
  4. Overkill — The Wings of War
  5. The Offering — Home
  6. Bad Blood — Bad Blood
  7. Whitechapel — The Valley
  8. Hyvmine — Retaliation
  9. Dragonforce — Extreme Power Metal
  10. Of Mice & Men — EARTHANDSKY
  11. Dream Theater — Distance Over Time
  12. Killswitch Engage — Atonement
  13. Awake At Last — The Change
  14. Corroded — Bitter
  15. Alien Weaponry — Tu

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Devin Townsend Announces New Live Dates

Courtesy: InsideOut MUsic

Devin Townsend announced a new string of live dates this week.

The tour, in support of Townsend’s latest album Empath is scheduled to open Feb. 27 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and to run through March 26 in San Francisco, CA.  It features performances in cities, such as Charlotte, NC; Baltimore, MD and Houston, TX.

The tour’s full schedule is noted below.  Haken and The Contortionist will serve as support for the tour.  Tickets for the tour are on sale now here.

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES:
Feb 27 – Phoenix Concert Theatre – Toronto, ON
Feb 28 – Corona Theatre – Montreal, QC
Feb 29 – Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY
Mar 01 -Paradise Rock Club – Boston, MA
Mar 02 – Theatre of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
Mar 05 – The Underground – Charlotte, NC
Mar 06 – Center Stage – Atlanta, GA
Mar 07 – The Plaza Live – Orlando, FL
Mar 09 – Warehouse Live – Houston, TX
Mar 10 – Granada Theater – Dallas, TX
Mar 12 – Cannery Ballroom – Nashville, TN
Mar 13 – The Crofoot Ballroom – Pontiac, MI
Mar 14 – Metro – Chicago, IL
Mar 15 – House of Blues – Cleveland, OH
Mar 16 – Rams Head Live – Baltimore, MD
Mar 19 – First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN
Mar 20 – Granada Theater – Lawrence, KS
Mar 21 – The Oriental Theater – Denver, CO
Mar 23 – The Van Buren – Phoenix, AZ
Mar 24 – The Mayan – Los Angeles, CA
Mar 25 – The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA

Empath has produced the singles ‘Genesis,’ ‘Spirits Will Collide,’ ‘Evermore,’ and ‘Why‘ since its release in March.

More information on Devin Townsend’s upcoming live dates is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.hevydevy.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dvntownsend

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dvntownsend

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com

‘Empath’ Is Another Solid Display Of Townsend’s Musical Genius

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Devin Townsend is a mad musical scientist in the best possible way. Next to Nine Inch Nails founder and front man Trent Reznor, Townsend is one of the most innovative and creative minds in the musical industry today, and his new album Empath proves that once again without a doubt. It is a record whose depth crosses musical and lyrical bounds from beginning to end. Each song is completely unlike the others, at some points sounding like something that belongs on a grand movie soundtrack, such as in ‘Requiem’ and at others like something that belongs in a stage musical, such as with ‘Why.’  At yet another point, it presents a sound that it just uniquely Devin Townsend, as with ‘Castaway/Genesis’.  These three songs are just a few examples of the genius that is on display once again from Devin Townsend on his latest album.  When they are considrered alongside the rest of the album’s works, the album in whole becomes a work that is without doubt, one of this year’s top new hard rock albums and best albums overall.

Devin Townsend’s latest solo recording Empath is one of this year’s most powerful – both musically and lyrically – albums.  It is a work that clearly displays Townsend’s musical genius from beginning to end, with works that are as diverse from one another as they are from anything that Townsend has ever crafted.  One of the most notable of this record’s works is the soaring instrumental work ‘Requiem.’  By definition, a requiem is a musical work performed for the dead.  In many cases, such works are vey somber and melancholy.  Yet here, the arrangement comes across as something filled more with wonder and awe.  The combined choral element and orchestral instrumentation makes the song sound more like it belongs on a science fiction movie, such as E.T. or Star Trek than maybe the full on drama that is Amadeus.  At the same time, knowing the overarching vibe of Empath both musically and lyrically, one can assume that maybe, what Townsend was trying to present here was a song that was more celebratory of a person’s life than something more morose.  All of the songs featured in this record present a theme of an empath, someone who experiences the emotions of others.  Listening to the choral element, there is a certain positive feeling.  That coupled with the more playful, orchestral element leaves one considering that maybe, just maybe this is what Townsend was trying to present – a remembrance, but not in negative fashion, but in positive fashion; people celebrating someone instead of mourning that individual.  This is of course all speculative and could be completely off the mark.  It is just this critic’s own take on the arrangement.  That aside, what Townsend has crafted in this two-minute, 47-second song is a work that once again puts on display a level of talent in terms of composing, that is above and beyond so many of today’s mainstream composers.  Listening to this work, it honestly makes one wonder what a partnership between Townsend and famed composer John Williams would produce. Moving on, ‘Requiem’ is just one of the songs that shows what makes Empath another powerful addition to Devin Townsend’s catalog.  ‘Why’ is another example of what makes this record so impressive.

‘Why’ stands out in part because of its arrangement.  The song’s arrangement this time, comes across as a composition that sounds and feels as if it belongs on a major Broadway stage score.  That sense is established right from the song’s outset, which features a strongly accented string arrangement alongside Townsend’s wonderfully controlled operatic style singing.  The addition of the castanets and cymbals adds even more to that sense. One can almost see the various camera angles, fog machines and lighting that would go along with this moment.  That is how much this song feels like it belongs as part of a major Broadway musical.  The song’s lyrical content adds even more to that sense.

Townsend sings in the song’s lead verse, “Darling, are you feeling alright?/And all our friends are/All our friends are watching us/I wanna go home/But why run away/Why?, Why? Why?”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Darling, are you seeing inside?/The wolves are alive/And all our faith is/All our faith is wrong.”  The second subject responds, screaming, “LET ME GO HOME!” before the lead asks again, “But why run away/Why? Why? Why?”  This call and response, with the seemingly existential discussion, makes for quite the interesting presentation.  That is, again, especially interesting considering how it adds to that feel of a scene from a stage play.  Taking such a musical and lyrical approach is original and creative to say the very least.  That creativity makes the song stand out quite strongly.  In turn, it serves to show even more why this album stands out as one of this year’s top new albums.  It is not the last of the songs that serves that purpose, either.  The combination that is ‘Castaway’/ ‘Genesis’ does just as much to make the album stand out as the other songs noted here and the rest of the record’s works.

‘Castaway’/ ‘Genesis’ stands out collectively in part because of its arrangement.  This song’s overall arrangement shows great time and thought was put into its completion.  The arrangement’s heavier moments are expertly balanced with its lighter moments, ensuring listeners’ engagement and entertainment throughout the song.  There are heavy, death metal style moments contrasted by much lighter, more ethereal moments.  Those moments are, at times, contrasted by more progressive moments and even some far deeper moments.  The whole becomes an arrangement that shows Townsend’s ability to break the bounds and expectations set by critics and listeners alike, and succeed very well in the process.  It makes the arrangement in itself its own success and just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content creates its own interest.

Townsend reminds listeners at one point in the song, “All the world is in this together/Feel no fear/We’re fearless together…because you’re so in love with this island of the mind/know that this island is home/You’ve got to get on your feet again (Genesis)/Get on your feet again.”  He adds later, “When we’re apart, we fall/Together, we feed the world.”  This works directly with the song’s chorus in which Townsend sings, “Let us being to live again.”  Simply put he is telling listeners that we as a people need to start over and come together.  It would make sense, as he sings, “From the top to the bottom/Genesis.”  That is saying, start over completely and live together.  Such statement, together with the song’s musical arrangement makes the song in whole another powerful work in its own right and one more example of what makes Empath another equally powerful success in whole from Devin Townsend.

Devin Townsend’s latest full-length studio recording Empath is one of the most important rock records to be released so far this year.  That is because it shows that whether with his Devin Townsend Project cohorts or on his own (as in this record), he is one of the greatest minds in the music industry today.  His creativity and originality is on full display from beginning to end.  The songs noted here are just a sampling of that creativity and originality.  The remainder of the record’s body does just as much to exhibit that talent.  All things considered, Empath proves to be one of this year’s best new hard rock & metal albums and just as easily, one of the year’s best new albums overall.  Empath is available now.  More information on Empath is available online along with all of Devin Townsend’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.devintownsend.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dvntownsend

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dvntownsend

 

 

 

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Devin Townsend Announces New Album Release Date

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Devin Townsend will release his next album in March.

The veteran guitarist is scheduled to release his new album Empath on March 29 via InsideOut Music.  As the album’s release date nears, Townsend will offer discussions on the record.  The first of those discussions is streaming online now here.

Frank Zappa alumni Mike Keneally joined Townsend as music director on Empath.  Also taking part in the album’s creation were Morgan Agren (Mats and Morgan, Frank Zappa, Fredrik Thordendal), Anup Sastry (Monuments, Periphery), Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Abigail Williams), Nathan Navarro, Elliot Desagnes, Steve Vai, Chad Kroeger, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Che Aimee Dorval, and Ryan Dhale and the Elektra Women’s Choir.

Empath will be released on limited edition 2CD Digipack (whose second disc features bonus material), single-disc, Gatefold 180-gram 2LP vinyl + CD  + LP booklet as digital album.  The album’s track listing is noted below.

Townsend will perform a series of “An Evening With” shows  across Europe throughout March and April in support of Empath.  Many of the shows are already sold out.  Remaining tickets for the shows not yet sold out can be purchased here.  The performance schedule is noted below.

The full list of dates are as follows, many of which are already sold out:
7th March – The Piano Man Jazz Club, New Delhi, India SOLD OUT
8th March – Levi’s Lounge, Mumbai, India SOLD OUT
29th March – Savoy Theater, Helsinki, Finland SOLD OUT
30th March – Savoy Theater, Helsinki, Finland SOLD OUT
31st March – Sodra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden SOLD OUT
1st April – Edderkoppen, Oslo, Norway SOLD OUT
2nd April – Bremen Theater, Copenhagen, Denmark
4th April – PassionKirchhe, Berlin, Germany
5th April – Stodola, Warsaw, Poland
6th April – La Fabrica, Prague, Czech Republic SOLD OUT
7th April – Freiheiz, Munich, Germany SOLD OUT
9th April – Kulturkirche, Cologne, Germany SOLD OUT
10th April – Grunspan, Hamburg, Germany
11th April – Bravo Kerk, Haarlem, Netherlands SOLD OUT
13th April – Reading 3, Tel Aviv, Israel
24th April – Bush Hall, London, UK SOLD OUT
25th April – Bush Hall, London, UK SOLD OUT
26th April – St George’s, Bristol, UK SOLD OUT
27th April – City Varieties, Leeds, UK SOLD OUT
29th April – Jam House, Edinburgh, UK SOLD OUT
30th April – Glee Club, Birmingham, UK SOLD OUT

More information on Devin Townsend’s new album, tour dates and more is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.hevydevy.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dvntownsend

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dvntownsend

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Viking Metallers Amon Amarth Are Victorious In Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Live DVDs & Blu-rays List

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

As the final few days of 2018 wind down, there is still some work to be done by critics putting in their year-ender lists.  That includes this critic.

This critic’s most recent year-ender focused on the year’s top new live CDs.  In a gradual transition to movies and television, there is still one more music list to present — the year’s top new live DVDs/BDs.  As has been noted previously, there are some live recordings that translate in  relatively acceptable fashion, but there are also others that can and should only be experienced with the full audio-visual experience.

Keeping this in mind, it is only fair to examine the year’s best new live DVDs and Blu-rays.  Topping this year’s list is Amon Amarth’s The Pursuit of Vikings25 Years in the Eye of the Storm.  There is nothing negative to say about this presentation.  The extensive documentary outlines the band’s career from the band’s own mouths, showing the group as a hard-working, blue-collar outfit that has earned its place in the metal and music communities.  The equally expansive two-night, 30-song set pulls from almost every one of the band’s albums.  The performance is great, as are the production values.

Second Place in this year’s list of the year’s best new live DVDs/BDs goes to Devin Townsend Project’s Ocean Machine Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv.  This performance features Townsend performing Ocean Machine live in its entirety along with an equally extensive by-request set.  That combination makes for a great set list.  As with Amon Amarth’s live recording, the group’s performance ensures audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment, even at home.  The same can be said of the production values.  The whole makes the recording yet another that is best experienced with the full audio-visual presentation versus just the audio alone.

Third Place in this year’s list of the top new live DVDs and Blu-rays goes to The Rolling Stones’ San Jose, California ’99 show from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The recording is everything that audiences have come to expect from one of the elite of the elite acts in the music industry today.  The extensive 20-song set list doesn’t play it safe, instead giving audiences material that is less common in the band’s previous live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The group’s performance (including that of the touring musicians) couples with the production values to make the performance yet another must have for any true fan of The Rolling Stones.

Also featured in this year’s list are the new live recordings from Anthrax, The Robert Glasper Experiment and Opeth, just to name a few more acts.  As always, the first 10 titles in the last are the best, while the next five are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 New Live DVDs & Blu-rays.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW LIVE DVDS & BLU-RAYS

  1. Amon Amarth — The Pursuit of Vikings25 Years in the Eye of the Storm
  2. Devin Townsend Project — Ocean Machine Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv
  3. The Rolling Stones — No Security: San Jose ’99
  4. The Rolling Stones — Voodoo Lounge Uncut
  5. Accept — Symphonic Terror
  6. Opeth — Garden of the TitansLive at Red Rocks
  7. Anthrax — Kings Among Scotland
  8. The Sound of Music Live
  9. Steven Wilson — Home Invasion Live at the Royal Albert Theatre
  10. Norah Jones — Live at Ronnie Scott’s
  11. Tommy Shaw & The Contemporary Youth Orchestra — Sing For The Day!
  12. The Moody Blues — Days of Future Passed Live
  13. Overkill — Live in Overhausen
  14. Robet Glasper Experiment — Live
  15. Lacuna Coil — The 119 Show Live in London

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