REVIEW: Devin Townsend – Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1

Devin Townsend is a music extraordinaire who is well-known for his many different and successful projects that he has participated in over the last 25 years or so. Whether it be Strapping Young Lad or Devin Townsend Project the man has always thrown his heart into it. He is a Canadian machine that expertly and consistently generates epic-scale music in many diverse forms. Last year he released his latest solo album, Empath (InsideOut Music). He took his essence to a new level of eccentricity with a masterful embodiment of bonkers meets serene. Many cling to the wilds that is Dev for his honest presentation, whether that be in Jazz, Metal, or whatever genre he chooses to express himself with. His devotees gather in the masses at his shows for a guaranteed excellent and entertaining performance. Last December he brought his uncommon magic to England and much like his actual works, the presentation was a little unconventional. Dev is about to release his new live album, Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 (InsideOut Music) documenting that European tour. It will be released as a limited deluxe 2CD/Blu-Ray/DVD artbook package, a limited 2CD+DVD digipak, gatefold 3LP+2CD vinyl box set, and more. 

Dev wanted to present his tunes in a human way while perfectly performing them. He found the ideal set and backup band to make that happen. The recording begins with the roar and ruckus of fans at The Roundhouse, a music venue in London. The applause roles in and Devin’s charming introduction is embraced by cheers. They kick off with several Empath tracks in a row setting a brisk and breezy vibe that carries a causal tone that lasts throughout the performance. They dive into Dev’s catalog and give attention to 2009’s Ki (HevyDevy Records), which was Devin Townsend Project’s first full-length record. Every Moment during this show feels frisky, perky, and pleasant. There is more presence and depth in this live recording than a lot of the original pieces. The jovial and video game-like glory from each player’s whimsy is engrossing. The prominence of the guitar in this mix highlights the virtuosos he got for his band. Alumni from acts like Crimson ProjeKct, Haken, and Frank Zappa all showed up to jam and jive. These important players provided the right amount of interesting instrumentation to bring Devin’s music to life. 

There is a fluidity between each song, yet with clear moments of improvisation keeping the happy-go-lucky wall of sound circus act engaging. The ease and edge to Dev’s massive vocal range cuts to the heart and is especially highlighted on ‘Deadhead’, a favorite from The Devin Townsend Band‘s album, Accelerated Evolution (HevyDevy Records). There is a command yet invitation to his effortless, emotional cleans and screams. His additional vocalists provide this transcendent emotion that adds a sweet frosting to the already delicious cake of production. Tracks like ‘Sprite’ and ‘Spirits Will Collide’ carry such heavy, introspective lyrics that there is a darkness amongst the fun. Dev broods playfully and laments good-naturedly. 

The crescendo of the night comes from the last two pieces played. A Frank Zappa cover, ‘Disco Inferno’, and another favorite off of the album Epicloud (InsideOut Music), ‘Kingdom’. The playful pep and atmospheric feelings created a carefree and captivating mood. The constant gratitude coming from Dev’s narrative throughout the show is truly touching. His animated banter connects with his audience and he chats to his fans as if each one of them were a close friend. His genial and genuine interaction with the crowd is admirable and humorous. Truly his upbeat absurdity makes him and his performance extraordinary. His continual mark in music exemplifies the hard work and honesty his projects have. This live record is an eventful journey of experimental sound and authenticity. His unrelenting enthusiasm and the vigor that he and everyone in the band plays with inspires, and the aesthetic of the DVD visually takes his wonders to new heights.  

Buy the packages, music and merch here:

7 / 10