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The Devin Townsend Band Biography - The Devin Townsend Band Discography - All Heavy Metal Bands


Synchestra, Devin’s sixth solo project outside Strapping Young Lad (the second as DTB), turned out to be a very enjoyable experience for the unique and legendary Canadian musician/sound whiz and band. He worked on this project stress-free and in typical Devy style, did practically everything from song writing to mastering and engineering. Synchestra is a thirteen song collection of Devin stylings, with five or six ”big Dev songs” and is a very refreshing change from the rest of the DT catalogue; stylistically closer to Terria or Ocean Machine, yet like all of his projects, still very much in a world of their own. Says Dev, ”The main difference being: Synchestra is not music that ’tells you what to do’ …more like it invites you in to be a part of it, and through relatively vague lyrical content and some quasi instrumental tracks, allows you to experience it without being besieged with uncomfortable or particularly strange lyrics… for once, a record that is heavy, epic, melodic, and joyful… and it’s fun to listen to”. Old bandmate Steve Vai even contributes a guitar solo on the song Triumph, truly an honour for Devin to have him involved. Synchestra also features the usual Devin Townsend Band stalwarts: Ryan Van Poederooven (drums), Brian Waddell (guitar), Mike Young (bass) and Dave Young (keyboards) as well as other guest musicians and out of the ordinary instruments. It is indeed, an orchestra in synch with itself.

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  • If somehow, there are those out there not convinced that Devin Townsend is a mad musical genius, here’s even more proof. I find it remarkable that there are musicians who can continuously come up with interesting ideas, without a slack in quality, and without falling into a rut. It’s just a shame that can’t be true of every band.

    Devin Townsend once again has created something distinctive, novel, and downright awesome with “Synchestra”. If “Accelerated Evolution” was too “normal” sounding for you, then you’re in luck, because he definitely went in the opposite direction here. Aside from perhaps “Infinity”, this is some of the most bizarre and out there stuff he’s done to date. And, like every Devin album, it is an entity unto itself. In some ways, it’s what you expect from Devin, with the huge metal sounds, and complex production, but sonically it’s like nothing he’s ever done before. In fact, I would also say that musically, compositionally, and productionally (is that a word?), this is the most complex, daring, and challenging thing he’s ever done.

    Any specific description of the songs here will inevitably be crap, but I’ll give it a go. You’ve got a lot of variety here, with insane, unpredictable progressive metal epics, like “Pixillate” and “Triumph” (the latter of which features a weird bluegrassy interlude that comes out of nowhere, and a truly transcendental solo from Steve Vai), “Gaia” and “Babysong” are massive melodic metal (with lyrics that once again prove that Devin thinks about things a bit differently than most of us); “Vampolka” is a wacky Mr. Bungle-like instrumental, which serves as an intro to the thrashy metal of “Vampira”; “A Simple Lullaby” is neither simple, nor a lullaby, and is full of complex, multi-layered riffs and melodies; “Sunset” is a short but sweet melodic instrumental, leading into the super-infectious “Notes from Africa”, in which Devin does these sort of odd tribal chants (this will probably be the most memorable moment, upon your first listen). And of course, the album ends with a curve, as the closing track, “Sunshine and Happiness”, contradicts the whole album with its straight-forward pop hooks.

    Music is a polytheistic religion, and Devin Townsend is among the mightiest gods of them all. I’m not yet prepared to say how this album compares to his other work (other than to say it certainly doesn’t fall short), but I will say this: I haven’t heard every single album released this year, but trust me, this one’s the best. And yes, I have heard the new Tool, and yes, it is pretty freakin’ amazing in and of itself, but you can believe me when I say that this is brilliance beyond even that. I don’t recommend this as a starting point (go with “Terria” or “Ocean Machine” for that), but if you’re already a Devin fan, this will not disappoint.

    Posted on February 17, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • First of all- I have never written a review on Amazon, mostly due to my obscene laziness. However…after hearing this album today for the first time…I felt…required to write a review.

    This album is the greatest piece of musical composition I have heard in years. This is complete brilliance and is almost overwhelming in its grandeur. This is Devin Townsend’s masterpiece- if you have any appreciation for brilliant composing, second-to-none producing and soulfully moving layers of sheer sonic bliss- buy this album now. I don’t use the term ‘genius’ lightly, but Devin Townsend is truly a living musical legend- GET THIS ALBUM.

    This album should be lauched into outer space to show those aliens that humans know how to make the best music in the UNIVERSE.

    This album is sweeter than a hundred ninjas jamming on guitars after killing a thousand pirates.

    If YOU were a ninja- you would buy this album right now.

    Posted on February 17, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’ve been waiting for this Disc for quite a while… since I first heard “Alien” by Strapping young lad actually. I had a feeling that good things would be coming from this man in the near future. 2006 seems to be a good year to be a Townsend fan, with “Synchestra” already out, and a new one from Strapping due out in the summer. There was quite a bit of hype behind Synchestra. And Im happy to say that this disc lives up to all of the hype, and even manages to become my new favorite release by The Devin Townsend Band. It puts everything that is great about dTb and SYL onto one CD. At times it will even blur the line between the two sides of devin’s music making something you have to listen to to believe.

    Synchestra starts off amazingly with “Let it roll” and “Hypergeek”. “Let it roll” is a sort of folky intro with acoustic guitars leading the way until the last 30 secs of the song. Which then leads into “Hypergeek” which is where things really start going. “Hypergeek” also starts off with a folky feel to it, its like the morning light rolling over country fields. Then, near the minute mark, theres a small pause before the biggest tidal wave of music ever created lauches itself at your ear drums.

    After “Hypergeek” comes “Triumph”, another amazing song. It has a couple dangerously catchy chorus’s on it. along with a toe-tappingly groovy banjo/bluegrass like passage that, strangly enough, fits absolutely perfectly in with the rest of the song. “Triumph” also sports a beautiful solo by, none other than guitar legend Steve Vai. Who gave Devin his voice in the music industry by having him as a guest guitarist/vocalist on his 1993 album “Sex & Religion”.

    Next up is “Babysong”, which is a pretty soild track. It reminds me of Alien a little past the half way mark of the song with UFO like synth work, and strange xylophonic beats in the background.

    This leads Into “Vampolka” and “Vampira” Vampolka being a circus/big top rendition of the upcoming Single “Vampira”. “Vampira” definitly sounds like a single, coming from this album anyway. It is still a great track, it was a wise choice to end it at around three minutes, because while it is good, it is pretty predicable song. Think of it this way, its a 4.5 on a whole album of 5s.

    Then comes the Proggy instrumental “Mental Tan”. This is very well done for an instrumental passage, which usually result in me only listening to the passage the first few times I sit down and listen through an album in its entirety. “Mental Tan” then flows into “Gaia”, which has some great synth work throughout the song. And a great guitar Riff at around 1/2 way through the track. Another Great track, I think that the singles of Synchestra should have been This and “Triumph”. actually Gaia feels(not necessarily sounds) simmilar to Triumph, im not quite sure as to why..but then again this whole album has a consistant “feel” to it.

    Then its “Pixilate”. Which mostly suffers from being a little too long at nearly 8 and 1/2 minutes. It does however make up for it with interesting and complex guitar work, and some unsuspected (and well done) female vocals.

    Up next is “Judgement” which has a Scream one line then Sing the next plot to it. Which works out better then I thought it would. It has its ups and downs. Then “A Simple Lullaby” starts up, which is like a heavy-metal lullaby. It starts off with a hypnotic riff sequence before really starting. It does have a bit of a lullaby-like feel to it. I think that this track goes into the record for being the only lullaby with the phrase “Ready, Aim, FIRE!” in it. Its a very cool song…just don’t count on it puting your kid to sleep!

    “Sunset” is a track where Keybordist Dave Young really shines.( He wrote the guitar and keys for this track.) It is another great instrumental that dosen’t feel like the average instrumental at all. The last track, “Notes From Africa”, has an african like chorus to it…its sort of hard to describe why it sounds african…it just does. This ends with the sounds of the rainforset flowing through your speakers. Depending on what edition of Synchestra you bought, (There are many out there.) you may have “Sunshine & Hapiness” Which is a fun/happy track Which is just as great as all the others, but I think it would have been better to have the album end with the rainforest ambience, but hey, who can argue with a bonus track?
    If your a Fan of The Devin Townsend band or Strapping young lad, you can’t miss out on this release i don’t think you will be dissapointed. Now lets hope The next release by strapping can be even better then Alien like Synchestra is To Accelerated Evolution.

    If you managed to read this entire review, and didn’t feel like kicking me in the teeth after doing so, or found it remotely interesting, appealing, or helpful please take a second out of your busy day to press the “yes” button next to “Was this review helpful to you?”
    Thank you,
    -Igar the Terrible

    Posted on February 17, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Synchestra is by far Devin Townsend’s most varied work to date. It is underscored with every single trait that makes his music so unique and his artistic expressions so powerful. The album is characterized by complex guitar work, creative mixing, densely nuanced rhythmic anchor, and Devin’s unmatched vocals. Stylistically, Synchestra seems like a combination of the production of Terria and the quirkiness of Infinity. Musically, however, it’s a completely different piece of work, emphasized by Devin’s two diametrically opposite approaches to songwriting.

    As you might know, Synchestra is supposed to be the antithesis to Strapping Young Lad’s last album Alien. That said, the album is neither as SYL-influenced as Physicist nor as atmospheric as, say, Ocean Machine. It does present an alternative to the Alien track “Possessions” in the form of “The Baby Song”, which basically addresses the responsibility required if you want to have children. Its poppy, big chorus that repeats, “Why don’t you have a baby? / Why don’t you have a child?” becomes utterly engaging and sticks to your mind for days on end. With great dynamics and a big symphonic backdrop underlying it, the song then morphs into a textured number with awesome piano and concludes with a mercilessly heavy and fast outro section. Contrary to this catchy piece, the album has a slower, almost dramatic start. Beautiful acoustic segments on “Let It Roll” segue into the earthy tones of “Hypergeek”, a track reminiscent of Terria, with lots of roosters, frogs and birds humming in the background, amidst insanely heavy, rapid-fire machine-gun riffery and plodding kick drums. The band wastes no time achieving that huge wall-of-sound vibe synonymous with any Devin Townsend work, be it solo stuff or Strapping Young Lad. Now with two brief tracks, the atmosphere is set and the colour of Synchestra defined. The first real track, “Triumph”, kicks off with soaring melodies, great drumming, both clean and harsh vocals, awesome keyboards, until its first breaking point in the middle – a country type of acoustic jam will surprise many, including the biggest Devin Townsend fans, but the song then goes back to where it started, only to be interrupted by a dreamy guitar solo by Steve Vai.

    The brief hook-laden “Vampolka” is busy with phenomenal bass (fretless?), some classical influences, raging organ, and awesome percussion. The piece immediately leads into its counterpart “Vampira”, where Devin’s vocals are so unusual and off-the-wall that I had to think of Infinity. His singing is catchy, yet at the same time very aggressive. This track would be a killer choice for a live performance, considering those “hey, hey” chants at the end. “Mental Tan” is a nice keyboard instrumental that once again brings to mind the more peaceful moments on Terria. It is followed by two of the album’s most progressive offerings. “Gaia” (which was originally titled “Nail Broth”) has a steady rhythm guitar throughout its six minute duration and features Devin singing in both gentle and growled styles. The piece then makes a foray into a challenging unison lead where each member finds the opportunity to display their chops. “Pixillate” may be a personal favourite for me. Going from the intense, stormy depths of Arabic vocals’ dirge-like effect to the heavily pronounced bass and crashing cymbals, the track also a female singer who contrasts Devin’s beast-like screaming with her beautiful vocal harmonies.

    The vulnerable throbs on the densely layered “Judgement” lead into “A Simple Lullaby”, which climaxes the album, thanks to its live vibe overall. Mixed with a wild concert crowd in the background, the song is mostly instrumental punctuated by “Earth Day”-like dynamics, but it does contain a lullaby sung in classic Devin Townsend fashion. Similarly, “Sunset” is also instrumental save for the melodies in the end, and it’s highlighted by lush acoustic guitars, hand drums, organ sounds, and piano. If memory serves, “Notes From Africa” is a song that didn’t make it onto Terria and has perhaps the strongest rhythms on the album. Drummer Ryan Van Poedervooen plays stunning polyrhythms whilst Mike Young on bass has a great bass bottom. It has a tightly-knit pattern that Devin follows with a complex counterpoint vocal line at the end.

    Synchestra is another powerful musical statement by Devin Townsend. The deluxe edition is even better, as it comes with a DVD where the band performs live. This is bound to become another top release of 2006.

    Posted on February 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • My first experience with Devin Townsend was when he opened for Symphony X about two years ago. To say the least, I was not impressed. In fact, I do not think I could distinguish a single note or lyric throughout the entire set. But no matter what websites or reviews I would read, his name would continuously pop-up. So I decided to check out Accelerated Evolution, and since that day I have become a fan of both Strapping Young Lad, and his moniker band. By no means have I ever considered either to be in my league of absolute favorites. Well, for the past 30 days or so I have been listening to a copy of this album on an average of once per day, and now I see the Townsend world with new ears. And although the grandiosity of Synchestra has given me a newfound level of appreciation for all of Devin’s work, nothing can match the scope, originality, and passion of this masterpiece.

    One of the greatest pleasures of listening to this album is when I finally received my pre-ordered copy. The crystalline production allowed the music to pulsate throughout the house, and there were no more one-second lags between tracks. Instead, the entire album flowed seamlessly from one note, one emotion, one composition to the next with not a moment of silence, demonstrating the cohesiveness and pervasive themes that make this whole infinitely better than the sum of its parts.

    This experience begins with two tracks running less than three minutes each, “Let it Roll” and “Hypergeek”. Neither is so much a song as they are the first steps on a magnificent journey. “Let it Roll” starts with scintillating melodies which echo folk music, even including a nod to Irish folk with the repeated “let it roll, lassie roll”. Though touching, the music starts out sparse. But of course, Devin’s production genius surfaces early as the bass and drums come in forcefully, but with overall volume still suppressed. Even after the electric distortion comes in with earth-shattering bass bombs, the song comes to a close before really foretelling of the storm to come.

    “Let it Roll” segues into “Hypergeek”, which takes the tranquilly paced folk of the opener, and turns the speed up a notch, conjuring images of mystical deep forest folk capering and drinking mead on a midsummer’s day. If you don’t believe me at first, wait until the saloon piano, banjo (or something of the like), and flute chime in, bringing this joyous melody to an invigorating peak. Then it stops…the only pause on the album…a muffled “AYE!”

    …and then

    …the wave.

    The music charges forth with no restraint and leaves you wondering where you will be whisked off to next, having already experienced something so epic in less than 8 minutes.

    Though both of Townsend’s main projects utilize a crushing avalanche of sonic force, it has always impressed me how The Devin Townsend manifestation actually sculpts this force into epic melody. And if this incarnation (as opposed to Strapping Young Lad) has become known for creating chugging monsters of larger-than-life grace, then Synchestra takes this grand sound to a whole new level.

    And that’s not to say that Synchestra is an all-out shiny happy fest, though that’s the way The Devin Townsend Band tends to lean in comparison to SYL. “Pixillate” begins with some haunting eastern chanting and a bass line that forewarns of something dark and twisted. An orchestra of sound ensues, all building on the warped foundation before morphing into a more triumphant exaltation led by some exquisite female vocals.

    Also present are a few tracks of more straightforward rock, most notably “Gaia”, “Sunset”, and the closer, “Sunshine and Happiness”, and one bizarre freak-fest “Vampolka”, which gives way to “Vampira”, a mind-blowing love child of dark power metal and 80s hair band theatrics. Whether rocking out, freaking out, tearing through, or building up though, Synchestra pushes its agenda through some of the best metal production around. It absolutely boggles my mind how Townsend can barrage the listener with such cluttered and distorted sound, yet each instrument is heard so clearly that the true intricacies of this seemingly simplistic music can be heard. Synthesizers, layered vocals, crunchy, distorted guitars, bombastic bass, orchestral flourishes, mesmerizing tribal drumming, and the trademark spectrum of emotive Townsend vocals (which have absolutely never sounded better) all fill the air until silence has not a grain of space in which to hide, yet any part of the sum can be isolated and appreciated.

    Unfortunately for many metal bands with early year releases, it seems that their albums are often over-looked at the year-end’s top lists. For rabid fans of music, this is most likely due to our insatiable hunger for new meat. Still, we all know of those rare dishes that come along whose savory flavors always lurk in the back of our minds. I predict that at the end of 2006, metal fans will not easily forget who gave them meat to start the year. I’ll second Mr. Batmaz’s call for a bound to be top release of the year.

    Posted on February 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now