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Devin Townsend – Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 Award winner

Devin Townsend
Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1
by Eric Poulin at 10 November 2020, 6:39 AM

DEVIN TOWNSEND is a Progressive/Avant-Garde metal artist based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and who has had numerous projects (DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND, DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT, PHYSICIST, OCEAN MACHINE to name a few) over the last 30+ years, and this is his latest live recording entitled “Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1” released through Hevy Devy Records on October 23rd 2020.

The live recording as the title suggests has a multitude of songs from his latest studio endeavor “Empath” including the opener “Borderlands”, “Evermore”, “Spirits Will Collide”, “Why?”, “Sprite” and “Castaway/Genesis”. You also get some other gems on this one from his numerous albums such as “War” from the “Infinity” album, “Deadhead” from “Accelerated Evolution”. “Coast”, “Heavens End”, “Ain’t Never Gonna Win” and “Gato” from “Ki”. You also have “Lucky Animals” and “Kingdom” from the “Epicloud” album. There are also 2 other additions to this live album, a cover song in “Disco Inferno” as well as a new song under the name “Gigpig Jam”.

Now that we have gone over what the setlist covers in terms of Devin’s extraordinarily vast catalogue of music, let us dive a bit deeper into the highlights of this live recording. One thing that has always been the backbone of his concerts has been his amazing sense of humor. He states at the beginning of the show this is a 2-hour vacation, quite fitting as the show starts off with the very trippy journey that is  “Borderlands” a song that goes from jazz to progressive to atmospheric rock, filled with all sorts of different choirs. The “Empath” album was already packed with changes, variations and an amorphis of musical styles, so I am not going to even try and categorize the songs from the album, played here in a live setting (listen to the originals or this live recording and you will understand my hesitation at going into detail.

Devin has always been good at putting a lot of emotion in his vocals, despite some from very lyrics at times, but it is a lot more straightforward in “Evermore” which does lend more on the progressive side of things and has some really well performed choirs. It also has its fair share of aggression that we were more accustomed to with STRAPPING YOUNG LAD“War” dates back over 20 years and here sounds as fresh as ever with its odd-timing, weird sound effects and prominent keyboard sounds. The song has never sounded better (even though you could make the case that Devin’s material never seems dated). If you compare to the very complex structures of the songs from “Empath”, this song is a bit simpler and an easier listen, but you need that mix in this kind if live setlist.

To be perfectly honest I am not familiar with every song released by Devin over his long career, so some of these songs are my first audio encounter with these recordings and his last album was incredibly challenging to listen to (like a fine wine, you need to listen to it a few times to appreciate its complexity) but the song “Sprite” shines nicely here with the little storytelling bit at the beginning, and some really majestic vocal harmonies. The show really dives into a more atmospheric vibe with the beautiful instrumental song “Gigpig Jam” that reminds me a lot of the smoother passages in RUSH and YES songs of he 1970s. Again, you need these slower parts because they quickly transition into more intense, guitar-driven melodies, which this song also possesses (similar in some ways to JOE SATRIANI).

One of the standouts on the recording is by far the very emotion-based song “Deadhead” that just screams loud energy and atmosphere, especially when presented on stage. The entire second cd is as strong as the first one and really shows off the different eras and sounds of Devin’s incredible career so far. I could have gone one for many pages on each song of this live album, as there are some many layers to this sound and very eclectic collection of musical compositions. It also allowed me to discover some songs I had never heard before, and there is no weak point on this live album. If you have never listened to his discography, and you enjoy more of the concert variety, you can definitely give this one a few spins.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Intro
2. Borderlands
3. Evermore
4. War
5. Sprite
6. Gigpig Jam
7. Coast
8. Gato
9. Heavens End
10. Ain’t Never Gonna Win
11. Deadhead
12. Why?
13. Lucky Animals
14. Castaway/Genesis
15. Spirits Will Collide
16. Disco Inferno
17. Kingdom
Lineup:
Devin Townsend - Guitars, Vocals
Nathan Navarro - Bass
Morgan Ågren - Drums
Mike Keneally - Guitars
Markus Reuter - Guitars
Diego Tejeida - Keyboards
Ché Aimee Dorval - Vocals, Guitars
Arabella Packford - Vocals (backing)
Samantha Preis - Vocals (backing)
Anne Preis - Vocals (backing)
Record Label: InsideOut Music
     


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