Devin Townsend – Lightwork
The being known as Devin Townsend can be considered in many ways. Is his vast and varied work all tongue in cheek, is he just showing off, or is he just mad? Or…is the man a genius who really enjoys exploring every aspect of rock and metal? Of course, it is the latter that is true. I cannot pretend to be familiar with all his albums, but most of what I have heard has impressed me.
The small amount of his live shows I have witnessed have been entertaining and humorous. Usually, the start has been delayed for one reason or another. In Barcelona at the sadly now defunct Be Prog my Friend festival a supposed technical fault developed. This allowed Devin to entertain the crowd with jokes and funny anecdotes. Although I am not an avid follower, I can recognise talent and this man has it in abundance.
My limited knowledge of his portfolio includes Strapping Young Lad. With this in mind, I’m making a wild guess that his new album “Lightwork” is one of his mellowest albums. After all, the clue is in the title and apparently, Devin has a sort of ‘internal checklist’ of projects he has wanted to attempt. This is another one of those crossed off his list.
As we delve into the lighter side of the man, after what sounds like a foghorn, we encounter ‘Moonpeople.’ It is almost pop music, but with a rock element to it. I saw a comment on a thread somewhere that said “Devin Townsend – the artist that writes pop music for metalheads!” Very well observed I think, and it is so true of this track.
Devin Townsend – Moonpeople (click here if the video does not play)
Leaning more towards the rockier side, ‘Lightworker’ is a lullaby/anthem that, like the first track, is catchy. There’s no escaping that it’s Devin, the vocals are unmistakable, even the bit of spoken word.
Devin Townsend – Lightworker (click here if the video does not play)
Devin’s vocals get a little harsher at times in ‘Equinox’, despite the mellow nature of the song. ‘Call of the Void’ rolls along at a comfortable pace, never changing much save for the occasional increase in intensity.
Devin Townsend – Call of the Void (click here if the video does not play)
There are guest singers, musicians and a choir scattered around the album enhancing the whole effect. The details of who is actually on the album are sketchy, hopefully the full list will be in the booklet. I have listed the ones I know about, but I think there are more. Even Devin himself can’t remember everyone in this interview video.
Who Plays on Lightwork? (part four of seven) (click here if the video does not play)
A sparkling, fresh sounding intro takes you into ‘Heartbreaker’, one of the longer tracks on the album. This is repeated throughout the first half of the song, refreshing it between verses. Later the style changes several times with choirs, electronica, and eventually that opening piece returns.
For the first time Devin employed a producer to help with the project. His long-time friend GGGarth Richardson who introduced some effects that Devin wasn’t too sure about to start with. This is particularly evident in ‘Dimensions’ which stands out as something different.
Occasionally, what I consider to be part of the Devin “sound” makes an appearance, chugging little riffs and bouncy rhythms. This is quite noticeable in ‘Celestial Signals’ and ‘Heavy Burden’ but also in some of the other tracks.
A complete change of style is introduced in ‘Vacation’, and it’s almost Country Music. Perhaps that’s a bit extreme but it’s definitely the lightest of the “Lightwork.”
To finish, what quite often is the case on albums, a long epic track. In this case it’s the 10 minutes long ‘Children of God’. Everything is thrown at this one, the choir, orchestrations, melody, harmony and at the end, fog horn sees it out.
Bringing this idea to fruition was a difficult but wonderful experience for Devin. Not light work as the title might suggest. The material was written during the pandemic and represents him at this stage of his life. It is his reflections on what he (and many of us) have gone through and where we are post pandemic.
Whatever project is next on Devin’s checklist, this album is a re-assurance that it will be dripping with quality.
- Call of the Void
- Celestial Signals
- Heavy Burden
- Children of God