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Townsend, Devin: Lightwork

Devin Townsend is one of the most prolific and influential musicians in heavy music. His career has been so varied and high calibre that I actually find it hard to summarise it all into a concise paragraph to commence this review. Whether it is his outlandish vocal’s on Steve Vai’s Sex and Religion album, his uber-heavy work as the brainchild of Strapping Young Lad, or his vast array of ‘solo’ releases, he has covered a lot of ground over the course of a long and notable career to date. But if you’ve taken the time to read this review it is likely that you already know who he is.

Lightwork is the title of his latest release; it’s an album that has been pieced together over the COVID-19 pandemic with intentions to provide something beautiful, cathartic, powerful and clear, providing a lighthouse to lead people out of a dark time. In the lead up to the album’s release there has been a lot of noise about Lightwork being at a different end of the spectrum to EMPATH (2019) which was a diverse, musically dense, beast of an album.

The album gets underway with the mid paced dreamy track "Moonpeople". It’s formed on a simplistic beat and groove, no doubt consciously taking the less is more approach. The way Devy’s vocals soar over the stripped back arrangement is a joy, particularly during the chorus. There’s no doubt there has been some restraint shown to not overdo the orchestration on this one, and the result is a slightly different sounding track to what we’ve come to know from Devin’s work in recent times. Up next is "Lightworker" which is an uplifting anthemic track more in keeping with the material on his EPICLOUD album. I wont pretend Devy is reinventing the wheel here, but he does this sort of track particularly well. Just try not to be uplifted by that chorus.

The middle of the release is full of mid paced, dreamy tracks, with interesting ‘arty’ arrangements. Indeed, if this album didn’t have the Devin Townsend name on it (which essentially tells you not to try and pigeonhole it) I’d struggle to place this album in a genre. Objectively there is much more ‘art rock’ on this album than progressive metal (or whatever you’d typically call a Devin album). Having said that, tracks like "Celestial Signals" could have been on any of the last 2-3 albums quite seamlessly. The album is taken through to its conclusion with the mellow pop track "Vacation" and the spacey epic "Children of God" which fades out to the noises of waves breaking and seagulls at the beach.

I find this album to be a great companion for a long drive or a walk, as the mood and style of the album just seems to work really well with a changing horizon and the sort of setting where you can absorb the music without 100% focus. The reverb drenched tones and quirky arrangements reveal themselves more and more on each listen.

Devin Townsend is one of those artists that never lets me down. I really enjoy the direction taken on Lightwork. In terms of his previous work it lands stylistically somewhere in between Ki, Addicted! And Casualties of Cool, but clearly has its own sound. The album has been out for the best part of a month and continues to be in heavy rotation, it’s a top 10 album for the year to my ears and if it had been released earlier in the year perhaps it might have been even higher.

Track Listing
  1. Moonpeople
  2. Lightworker
  3. Equinox
  4. Call of the Void
  5. Heartbreaker
  6. Dimensions
  7. Celestial Signals
  8. Heavy Burden
  9. Vacation
  10. Children of God

Added: November 29th 2022
Reviewer: Chris Reid
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 838
Language: english

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