Let’s get this out in the open before we go any further. I am not some raging fanboy of THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT. I obviously know who the man is, realize what an excellent guitar player he is, and have heard some things over the years, but I never sat down with an album from start to finish until this new one Transcendence (Sept 2, InsideOut Music). And the main reason I took some time with this one over a slew of other releases on my plate is that I trust the opinion of one of our writers/photographers Dana Zuk (check out her work HERE!), who strongly urged me to give it a go. Now she LOOOOOVES his stuff, but her suggestion was made without the usual fan bias. So here we are.
The first track “Truth” is evidently a remix of an older tune. I liked it because it serves as sort of an overture for the grand spectacle that is to come. “Stormbending” has a slow and deliberate tempo and builds a massive wall of guitars, bass, drums, and synth to go with Townsend’s rather unique voice. Then at the 1:40 mark his guitar takes off and leads the song in a different direction, like some rock and roll Pied Piper before unleashing a brief but mighty solo at 2:25. Next up is “Failure” and for six minutes it too has a rather large and full sound and some fantastic instrumental work, most notably the guitar and drums. These songs really sound great in my headphones down here in the depths at A&GS HQ.
One of the shorter tracks on the record is “Stars”, but during its tenure it manages to put you on this sonic cloud and have you floating back and forth while humming the chorus the whole way. Title track “Transcendence” plays out like a mini-movie with its larger than life feel and tone, and it’s very easy to get caught up in that. Everything comes together in such a way, unlike anything I’ve heard before. Now we come to a pair of winners, starting with “Offer Your Light”, which has a perfect blend of pop, heavy rock, and fast groove. The synth is straight out of the 1980’s and the guitar is simply riff-tastic from beginning to end.
This is followed by my runaway favorite “From the Heart.” This track starts with a bang and stays at ten for a while. Townsend’s vocal line on the verses hasn’t left my head in days, and the bridge-into-chorus is sweeping, broad, and majestic. With a running time of 8:23, it takes us into the eye of the storm at the halfway point and then gets more mellow as the guitar slowly hypnotizes and lulls us. Closer “Transdermal Celebration” is another eight-minute plus epic and ends the record on a very high note. All told, Transcendence is an excellent album, and it’s safe to say that my first full experience with THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT has been a great one. Now it’s time to go back and see what I’ve been missing all these years, eh? Thanks, Dana!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “From the Heart”, “Offer Your Light”, “Transcendence”, “Stormbending”, “Transdermal Celebration”