‘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

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and 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.

‘Distance Over Time’ Is A Welcome Return To Form For Dream Theater

Courtesy: Inside Out Music

Prog-metal band Dreram Theater recently released its 14th full-length studio recording to the masses.  The album, Distance Over Time, is another strong effort from the band.  The band’s first outing away from Roadrunner Records since the 2005 release of Octavarium (Atlantic Records), is a positive return to form for the band.  It has far less of the spit-shined commercial sound of those records that the band released while on Roadrunner’s roster, and more elements of so many of its past albums.  Its lyrical themes are just as interesting as its musical content.  The album’s opener, ‘Untethered Angel’ is just one of the songs featured in the new album that serves to support those statements.  ‘S2N,’ which comes just past the album’s halfway point, does just as much to support the noted statements, and will be addressed a little later.  The album’s finale and bonus track ‘Viper King’ proves just as interesting as ‘S2N’ and ‘Untethered Angel.’  It will be discussed later, too.  Each song is important in its own right to the whole of Distance Over Time.  When they are considered together with the seven other songs not directly addressed here, the whole of the album presents Dream Theater as a band that has finally gotten back up to speed.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.

Veteran prog-metal band Dream Theater has been making music, touring the world and building its fan base for 34 years. The band’s new album Distance Over Time serves as a reminder of all that the band has accomplished in that time, while also reminding listeners the band in whole has no intention of slowing down as it continues to move forward.  This is evidenced in part through the album’s opener and lead single ‘Untethered Angel.’  The song’s musical arrangement is easily comparable to the songs featured in the band’s 1999 album Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory.  That is evident early on in the song’s five-minute plus run time.  The combination of front man James LaBrie’s vocal delivery style along with John Petrucci’s guitar line and Jordan Rudess’ keyboard arrangement couples with Mike Mangini’s work behind the kit to create that sense of a song that would have fit well into that album.  Considering the overall theme of that record, the lyrical theme of this work makes it feel even more like it would belong on that record.

The lyrical theme of ‘Untethered Angel’ centers on someone dealing with a lot of inner turmoil, which is very similar to the past life recollections of the figure at the center of Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory.  Given, the scenario there is not entirely like that presented here, but it is still similar enough that it would work.  LaBrie sings in the song’s lead verse, “You’ve built this world around you/Your universe/In spite of best intentions/Things could not be worse/Chaos and fear have left you hanging by a thread/As you argue with the voice inside your head/Untethered angel/Falling into darkness/Don’t be afraid of letting go/Giving up yourself will set you free.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Misgiving and dismay/Nightmares and wasted days/Can’t live your life this way/Something needs to change/Cold feet and second thoughts/Entangled, tied in knots/Avoidance at all costs/A painful thing to watch.”  From there, he returns to the chorus as the song reaches its bridge and finale.  Overall, the song seems to be addressing someone, again, dealing with a strong inner battle with himself/herself.  Those who recall MP2: SFAM will recall that the subject’s past life had quite a lot held inside.  Yes, it was a different scenario, but it was still a dark past.  To that end, this is still similar enough to the prior record to make it work.  Considering it on its own merits, it works just as well because it serves as a reminder to those going through difficult times in life (who isn’t going through some difficult emotional situations?) that things can get better.  Keeping this in mind along with the song’s fully engaging musical arrangement, the whole of the song becomes a solid started for DOT and just one way in which the album proves itself a strong return to form for the band.  It is just one of the album’s high points, too.  ‘S2N,’ which comes just past the album’s halfway point, does just as much as ‘Untethered Angel’ to show what makes DOT a positive new offering from Dream Theater.

‘S2N’ stands out in part because of its musical arrangement.  Needless to say, the song’s arrangement is classic Dream Theater all the way around.  Bassist John Myung’s impeccable work once again shows why he is nicknamed the octopus.  John Petrucci’s guitar line joins with Myung’s bass line to take listeners back to Dream Theater’s heyday while Mike Mangini’s time keeping and Jordan Rudess’ work on the keys strengthens the foundation even more.  Mangini’s ability to seamlessly keep time while utilizing every single inch of his kit is impressive to say the least.  The whole of the arrangement harkens back to the works featured in the band’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity while also adding a bit of a modern metal vibe – again thanks to Petrucci – at times.  That element is just one part of what makes the song so engaging and entertaining.  The seeming social commentary contained within the song’s lyrical content adds its own share of interest to the song.

LaBrie sings in the song’s lead verse, “Are we paying attention or are we drifting/Too much negative action/Not enough positive reaction/What’s the state of humanity/Where’s the peace and harmony/Free the signal/Your inner voice/Time to transcend/Block out the noise/Signal to noise becomes the answer/the world keeps turning as we latch onto the wheel.”  He adds in the song’s second verse, “Have you heard the news/A surging sea of circumstance/Pain, starvation, war, abuse/Sterile gloves hide dirty hands/Shocking truth/Climate change/Floods and fires/Hurricanes/Overdose, suicide/Innocent die/Fear and race/Endless lies/Sex and faith, terrorize/Drugs and guns taking lives/Innocent die.”  There is little doubt that this is commentary about the current state of the world, and a wake up call about it all.  Given, it is hardly the first song to ever address how bad things are and the need for people to do something about it.  That does not lessen its impact or importance, as people always need to be reminded and aware so that they do not become complacent about the state of the world.  Things can potentially only get worse if people become complacent.  To that end, this content is just as important as the song’s musical arrangement.  When they are coupled, they make ‘S2N’ another example of how much DOT has to offer audiences.  It is definitely not the last example of the album’s strength.  The album’s finale and bonus track ‘Viper King’ is one more example of that strength.

‘Viper King’ stands out in part because of a musical arrangement that is largely unlike anything the band has previously crafted.  Rudess’ keyboard line and Mangini’s steady hi-hat beat conjures thoughts of Deep Purple as the song opens.  Once the rest of the band comes in, the overall heaviness creates a sense of something similar to some of today’s biggest hard rock acts.  At the same time, that link back to Deep Purple remains throughout.  The whole makes the song’s arrangement perhaps the album’s highest point.  That is because, again, it finds the band moving in what would seem to be previously unexplored territory.  It is a welcome and successful venture.  Of course it is only part of what makes the song overall stand out.  The song’s lyrical content adds its own share of interest, again harkening back to Deep Purple even here.

Looking at the song’s lyrical content, one can’t help but make a comparison to Deep Purple’s Highway Star.’  That is because LaBrie seems to be singing about…well…a car; a Dodge Viper at that, thus the title ‘Viper King.’  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “Venomous by design/Lying idle, biding time/Bore down the clutch/Tore up the road/Six hundred horses/Genetic code/Lightning speed/The road she bends/Slammed down the brakes/Losing my ass end.”  One can’t help but figure that this is something about a car and simply going out driving in said car.  It’s possible that is completely the incorrect assumption, but one can’t help but imagine the noted topic is what is addressed.  The chorus adds to the supposition that the song is “auto-centric,” as LaBrie sings, “Drive on/pushed to the limit/My Viper King/We’re flying high/Drive on/Filled with desire/Nothing to fear/I feel alive/My Viper King.”  He even goes on from there to sing, “Speed demon/Tempting fate/Do or die/in the blink of an eye.”  Once again, if this is not a song about a car, it will definitely be interesting to discover the song’s actually theme.  If it is a song about a car and the simple joys of being behind the wheel on the open road, then it has been presented quite well.  That is just as much the case considering the song’s musical arrangement.  When that element is considered along with the song’s engaging lyrical content, the whole of the song makes for a great final statement from the band on this album, and yet another example of how much the album has to offer.  When the song is considered along with the songs previously discussed here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of DOT proves to be a positive return to form for Dream Theater and a sign that the band has finally gotten back up to speed.

Dream Theater’s 14th full-length studio recording Distance Over Time is a welcome return from the veteran prog-metal band.  That is because, having finally parted ways with Roadrunner Records, the band has finally returned to form on this outing.  That is evidenced through all three of the songs discussed here and the rest of the songs not directly addressed.  From start to finish, the album offers longtime fans just as much to appreciate as those who might not be as familiar with the band as those longtime fans.  Simply put, Distance Over Time proves itself to be a record that shows Dream Theater is finally back up to speed and its members have no intention of slowing down for the foreseeable future.  More information on Distance Over Time is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.dreamtheater.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dreamtheaternet

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and 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.

Fates Warning Officially Announces Tour With Queensryche

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Fates Warning announced a new slate of live dates this week.

The veteran progressive metal band officially announced Thursday, that it is joining Queensryche for the band’s tour in support of its forthcoming album The Verdict, which is currently scheduled for release on March 1 via Century Media.

Queensryche recently made the announcement of the tour along with announcements of its new videos, which feature music from The Verdict.  The tour is currently scheduled to launch March 2 in Orlando, FL. and run through April 3 in Seattle, WA.

The tour’s schedule, which features performances in cities, such as Dallas, TX; Baltimore, MD and Detroit, MI, is noted below.

FATES WARNING – Live 2019:
Sa March 2nd – Orlando, FL – The Plaza Live – w/ Queensryche
Su March 3rd – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room – w/ Queensryche
Mo March 4th – Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbit’s *
Tu March 5th – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade – w/ Queensryche
Th March 7th – Baltimore, MD – Sound Stage – w/ Queensryche
Fr March 8th – Sellersville, PA – Sellersville Theater *
Sa March 9th – New York, NY – Irving Plaza – w/ Queensryche
Su March 10th – Worcester, MA – Palladium – w/ Queensryche
Tu March 12th – Cincinnati, OH – Bogarts – w/ Queensryche
We March 13th – Detroit, MI – Diesel – w/ Queensryche
Th March 14th – Chicago, IL – Concord – w/ Queensryche
Fr March 15th – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave – w/ Queensryche
Sa March 16th – Medina, MN – Medina Entertainment Center – w/ Queensryche
Su March 17th – Lincoln, NE – Royal Grove *
Tu March 19th – Tulsa, OK – The Shrine *
We March 20th – Dallas, TX – House of Blues – w/ Queensryche
Th March 21st – Houston, TX – House of Blues – w/ Queensryche
Fr March 22nd – San Antonio, TX – Aztec – w/ Queensryche
Sa March 23rd – Albuquerque, NM – El Rey – w/ Queensryche
Su March 24th – Tucson, AZ – House Of Bards *
Tu March 26th – Tempe, AZ – The Marquee – w/ Queensryche
We March 27th – San Diego, CA – Observatory – w/ Queensryche
Th March 28th – Los Angeles, CA – Fonda – w/ Queensryche
Fr March 29th – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s – w/ Queensryche
Sa March 30th – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades – w/ Queensryche
Mo April 1st – Redding, CA – The Dip *
Tu April 2nd – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom – w/ Queensryche
We April 3rd – Seattle, WA – Neptune – w/ Queensryche
* FATES WARNING headline show

The Cringe will also serve as support during the tour.

Fates Warning’s tour with Queensryche is in support of its latest live recording Live Over Europe, which was released June 29, 2018 via InsideOut Music.  According to Fates Warning front man Ray Alder, the tour is also in support of the band’s most recent full-length studio recording Theories of Flight, which was released July 1, 2016 via InsideOut Music.

Live performances of the songs ‘Firefly,’ ‘The Light and Shade of Things, ‘Life in Still Water‘ and ‘Point of View‘ were released leading up to the release of Live Over Europe.  Live Over Europe can be ordered digitally and physically now.

More information on Fates Warning’s upcoming live dates is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.fateswarning.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/fateswarning

 

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.

 

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.

Fates Warning Debuts ‘Point of View’ Lyric Video

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Fates Warning has released another video in support of its new live recording Live Over Europe.

The band debuted the lyric video for the song ‘Point of View‘ today via YouTube.  Created by John Kaimakamis and the Nightwatchers, the song is the partner to the song taken directly from the song from the recording.  The video’s design places the song’s lyrics over a blueprint style background, with the lyrics written on sheets of paper on said backdrop.  Pictures of the band performing live are also incorporated into the final design, adding even more depth to its presentation.

The band is scheduled to perform live in October at a trio of South American shows.  Those dates are also in support of Live Over Europe.  Drummer Craig Anderson (Ignite, Crescent Shield) will fill in for regular drummer Bobby Jarzombek for those shows.  That is because Jarzombek has previous commitments on said dates, which are noted below.

FATES WARNING – Live 2018:
October 9th – Santiago (Chile) – Club Subterráneo
Tickets: https://www.eventrid.cl/eventos/spiderprod/fates-warning-en-chile

October 11th – Arequipa (Peru) – Jarawa / Lima Metal Fest Sideshow

October 13th – Lima (Peru) – Lima Metal Fest III

Tickets: https://www.joinnus.com/PE/conciertos/lima-lima-metal-fest-3-2018-20073

 

‘Point of View’ is just the latest single to come from Live Over Europe.  The record — mixed by Jen Bogren (Opeth, Kreator, Symphony X) and mastered by Tony Lindgren at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden — has also spawned the singles ‘Firefly,’ ‘The Light and Shade of Things‘ and ‘Life in Still Water.’  Those songs and the others featured in the record were culled from eight different cities in which Fates Warning performed earlier this year across Europe in support of its most recent full-length studio recording Theories of Flight.

Liver Over Europe is available now in stores and online.  It is available digitally and as a 2CD and 3LP set.  The CD and LP sets can be ordered here.

More information on Fates Warning’s new lyric video is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://www.fateswarning.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/fasteswarning

 

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.

Deep Set List, Solid Sound Production, Band Performance Form A Solid Foundation For ‘Live Over Europe’

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Veteran progressive rock outfit Fates Warning has been entertaining audiences the world over for almost forty years, having originally formed in 1982.  In the three decades-plus since the band’s formation, it has seen numerous changes in lineups and labels, yet still managed to release so far, a total of 12 full-length studio recordings.  The most recent of those recordings was 2016’s Theories of Flight, which was released via InsideOut Music.  Interestingly enough, the band has only released three (yes, three) live albums.  Though it has released a handful of live DVDs  The most recent of those live albums was released just late last month – June 29 to be precise – in the form of the 2CD recording Live Over Europe.  The recording’s 23-song set list, which forms the foundation of its presentation, was culled from the band’s extensive European tour in support of Theories of Flight.  That set list will be discussed shortly.  While the recording has been made available only on CD instead of DVD/BD, one can still garner much from the band’s performance, just not as much as could be taken from a full audio-visual experience.  That being the case, the band’s performance of the featured songs bears its own importance to the recording’s presentation.  It will be discussed a little later.  Also despite the recording’s limited presentation, its production also should be considered, and will be later, too.  Each element noted here is important in its own right to the overall presentation of Live Over Europe.  All things considered, they make this recording another welcome offering for the most devout Fates Warning fans, regardless of those fans’ opportunities to experience the band live in person.

Fates Warning’s brand new live recording Live Over Europe is a welcome addition to the music library of the band’s most devout fans.  This applies regardless of said fans’ chances of experiencing the band firsthand. This is proven in part through the recording’s extensive set list.  Composed of 23 tracks, the set list paints a rich picture of the band’s life.  Given, it’s not necessarily a career-defining or spanning recording, but it certainly does do a good job of presenting the band’s history.  It reaches all the way back to the band’s fourth album, 1988’s No Exit and all the way up to Theories of Flight (2016).  Every album between that pair is also represented, including the band’s landmark 1997 album A Pleasant Shade of Grey, the equally talked about 1991 record Parallels and of course FWX (2004) among others.  Why the band’s first three albums – Night on Brocken (1984), The Spectre Within (1985) and Awaken The Guardian (1986) – were omitted in this recording’s featured set list is anyone’s guess.  That aside, the set list presented here is still a healthy sampling of the band’s catalog, showing where the band has been and how far it has come and changed since its infancy.  Keeping that in mind, the foundation formed through the recording’s set list is strong to say the very least.  Strengthening that foundation even more is the band’s performance of the featured songs.

In regards to the band’s performance, interpreting said performance here requires a certain extra attention as audiences have to interpret that performance from an audio-only presentation versus a full audio-visual experience.  Longtime front man Ray Alder’s vocals are just as powerful throughout this recording as they have ever been.  The depth of the emotions in each song translates relatively well thanks to his vocal talents.  Mark Zonder, who has handled drumming duties for Fates Warning for several years is just as solid throughout each song, adding his own touch to each composition’s impact.  His work handling the polyrhythmic patterns of ‘One’ clearly supports that statement.  The verses present some rather difficult patterns, yet Zonder makes handling those patterns seem so easy.  Meanwhile, the guitar/bass team of Jim Matheos, Frank Aresti and Joey Vera gets its own moment to truly shine on ‘The Light and Shade of Things,’ too.  The brooding bass and guitar combo that opens the song shows just as much, the band’s ability to convey power in subtlety just as much as through much harder rocking moments.  As the song builds, so does the power from the band overall, and in turn listeners’ engagement is insured even more.  It’s one more moment that shows the band’s full commitment to entertaining audiences, and the success therein.  ‘Wish,’ which comes immediately after ‘The Light and Shade of Things,’ does just as much to exhibit each band member’s talents, and at the same time, each man’s solid performance, as it also starts with that brooding intro before building to a powerful climax and finale.  It’s just one more way in which the band’s performance shines through in this recording, even with the recording having been presented only in audio format versus audio-visual.  Much the same can be said of so many other moments throughout this recording including ‘And Yet It Moves,’ with its full-on power metal assault, ‘The Eleventh Hour,’ with its 80s metal style arrangement and the absolutely moving acoustic approach of ‘Falling.’  Between each of these songs and the others more directly addressed here, it becomes clear how dedicated the band was throughout its tour, to entertaining its audiences.  Even in an audio-only setting, that dedication translates very well from start to end.  That dedication strengthens even more, the foundation established through the recording’s set list.  The two elements together do more than enough to make this recording another offering that Fates Warning fans will appreciate.  Even with this in mind, there is still more to note in examining the recording’s whole.  That final element is its production.

The production of Fates Warning’s new live album Live Over Europe deserves its share of applause.  That is because of the balance between the vocals and the instruments in each performance.  It would have been nice to know the size of the venues where each song was recorded.  That’s because it adds a certain amount of appreciation to the work put into balancing the sound.  Even without knowing the size of the venues, one can tell certain efforts were taken to make sure that each performance translated as best as possible in each song.  That includes those responsible for on-site sound management and those who handled the sound in post production.  To that end, hearing these songs on CD is almost as good as being there in person if not as good.  With any luck, this recording will eventually be complimented by a companion DVD and/or BD release to show even more clearly the work put in to balance the vocals and instruments in each performance while also accenting the venues’ sizes.  When this is considered along with the band’s performances and the featured songs, the whole of the elements makes this audio-only presentation of Fates Warning live, an experience that fans will appreciate.  Again, it would have been nice to have had an audio visual experience to compliment it, but even without that element, it’s still one that said fans will enjoy.

Fates Warning’s latest live recording Live Over Europe is an impressive collection of live performances from a group that is one of the most respected names in the progressive rock and metal community.  It’s hardly the band’s first live recording, what with two other live recordings and a handful of live DVDs and Blu-rays.  Recorded during the band’s most recent tour across Europe, this extensive 23-song set gives both the most seasoned and the least seasoned fans alike a healthy listen to the band’s catalog.  The band’s performance is just as critical to the compilation.  It strengthens the recording’s foundation even more.  The audio production in this recording puts the final touch to its presentation.  Each element is key in its own way to the recording’s whole.  All things considered, they make Live Over Europe a live recording that any of Fates Warning’s fans will appreciate.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Live Over Europe is available now online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.fateswarning.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/fateswarning

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and 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.

‘Ocean Machine: Live…’ Is A Strong Finale Live Statement From Devin Townsend Project

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Devin Townsend has a new live recording on the way. The Devin Townsend Project founder announced Friday that the band will release Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv on July 6 via InsideOut Music.  Originally recorded September 22, 2017 at the noted venue, the concert was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Townsend’s landmark solo album Ocean Machine.  It was more than that though.  It also offered audiences performances of other classic DTP songs complete with accompaniment from the Orchestra of Plovdiv State Opera.  That extensive set list, which runs nearly three hours in length — 2 hours 51 minutes to be exact — forms a solid foundation for the recording’s presentation, and is only one of the recording’s most important elements.  It goes without saying that the performance by the overall collective plays its own important part to the recording’s whole, too, so it will be discussed later.  The recording’s bonus material puts the final touch to its presentation.  It will also be discussed later.  Each element is key in its own way to the whole of this new live recording from DTP.  All things considered, they make Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv a presentation that DTP fans across the board will enjoy and appreciate.

Devin Townsend Project’s new forthcoming live recording Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv is an interesting new live offering that DTP fans across the board are certain to enjoy and appreciate.  That is due in no small part to the recording’s extensive, nearly three-hour-long set list.  The set list is anchored by a full performance of DTP’s landmark album Ocean Machine and is bolstered by a full, 12-song set of songs pulled from the group’s previous albums.  Given, not every one of the group’s albums is represented in that set nor are all of Townsend’s solo albums, but it still offers a healthy sampling of those records.  DTP’s 2016 album Transcendence gets the most nods in the first set, with four songs while Townsend’s solo albums Infinity and Terria get nods.  Terria gets two honors while Infinity receives one.  The lead set even reaches into his exclusive Japanese-only EP Chrsiteen with a performance of ‘Om.’  There’s even a selection from his 2006 Devin Townsend Band album Synchestra in the form of ‘Gaia’ included in this set. Of course, the first set is the only one featuring the orchestral backing.  Even with that in mind, the second set — which is just Townsend and his fellow musicians – is just as powerful as the concert’s first set.  All things considered, the overall set list presented here creates a solid foundation for Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv.  That foundation is strengthened even more through the performance of all involved in the show.

The actual performance put on by Townsend and his fellow musicians throughout the course of the concert is so important to discuss because, as with any concert, it does just as much to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the set list itself.  That is evidenced from the start of the concert to the end.  Townsend’s vocal chops at their peak, needless to say.  This includes not just his screams, but his more soaring almost operatic style vocal delivery, too.  The power in each musician’s part comes through clearly thanks to the work of those behind the cameras and sound boards.  The guitars and orchestral instruments together create a truly lasting musical impact.  That is the case even with the concert being experienced on screen.  The work of those mentioned makes the power in those performances translate so well.  Even in the moments between songs when Townsend interacts with the audience, there is just as much enjoyment.  Townsend comes across as such a laid back, personable figure, a total contrast to the power and often times fury in his music as is evidenced early on when he jokes with the audience about trying not to be one of those uppity type of musicians.  When the fans tell him to “talk s***,” his reaction is so funny.  Even in the concert’s more subdued musical moments, there is so much power thanks to the band’s attention to the songs’ lyrical content and the emotion meant to be interpreted in each.  That attention to the songs’ emotional impact through their arrangements deepens the overall impact of the group’s performance in this concert.  That in turn proves even more the importance of the group’s performance to the concert’s overall presentation.  When it is coupled with the show’s set list – which by the way is presented in the same order both on DVD/BD as it is on CD – the whole of those elements makes the recording in whole all the more enjoyable.  Even with all of this in mind, these two elements are not the recording’s only important elements.  The recording’s bonus material rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material included in the recording is a nearly half-hour documentary that showed how the concert came to life.  From the pre-planning stage to the rehearsals to showtime, it’s all there.  Along the way, there is also an intimate one-on-one interview between Townsend and an interviewer during which Townsend talks about making the concert happen, his influences and also what led to his decision to disband Devin Townsend Project.  Audiences will be so moved by Townsend’s thoughtful response to that question.  He notes here his respect for his band mates and that he just felt that basically it was his own personal growth.  One can tell through his response that he was being honest and not just paying lip service to the interviewer.  In the same breath, there is also a much more light-hearted moment when Townsend appears on a local talk show to promote his concert.  His reaction to the host, who clearly was full of hot air, is classic.  The host’s reaction to being called out is just as funny.  Between these moments and the detail of the rehearsals and other preps for the concerts, audiences get in this bonus featurette, an in-depth look at just how much time and effort went into making this concert a reality.  It also shows a side of Townsend that most otherwise might not get to see.  That overall content proves the bonus material to be just as important to this recording’s presentation as the recording’s set list and featured performance.  When all three elements are considered together, they prove Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv to be a fitting finale from Townsend’s latest project, even though the album presented here is one of his solo albums.  That aside, Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv is a recording that every Devin Townsend fan will appreciate and enjoy.

Devin Townsend’s new live recording Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv is a fitting final live recording from Devin Townsend Project…at least for now.  Hopefully it isn’t the very last that audiences will ever get from the group.  Maybe some archived shows will be released later.  Either way, the recording proves to be enjoyable for any Devin Townsend fan.  As has been shown here, that is proven in part through an extensive two-set performance from Townsend and company.  That performance includes a full anniversary performance of Ocean Machine and a handful of select songs for a rich whole.  The performance of the songs by Townsend and company adds to the recording’s overall enjoyment.  The bonus material included with the recording puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each item is important in its own right in examining the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv a presentation that every Devin Townsend fan will appreciate and that is potentially one more of this year’s top new live recordings.  It will be available July 6 via InsideOut Music.  More information on Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv is available online now along with all of Devin Townsend’s latest news and more 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 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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.