Devin Townsend likely needs no introduction, but for those unfamiliar, the guitarist’s career has spanned 25 years, through multiple solo acts, Strapping Young Lad, work with Steve Vai, and plenty more impressive things that all adds up to one incredible portfolio, including a metal opera concept album about an evil alien overlord coming to take all of our coffee.
With Empath releasing March 29 through his own label, Heavy Devy, as well as Inside Out/Sony Music, Devin has pushed the experimental and progressive aspects of his composition further with an epic-length, prog-metal, genre mashup with a special edition that includes a whopping 10 bonus tracks, essentially a whole other album, though I haven’t yet had the privilege of listening to these. Not to worry, though, because even if the standard album was all we’d gotten, I’d still be blown away.
Empath is intensely ambitious, with progressive metal, classical, free jazz, country, Hawaiian, EDM, and other styles crammed into one song a lot of the time, let alone the whole album, and the best part is that it works. It works so well, with seamless transitions and catchy lines throughout, backed up by an all-star team of musicians. Highlights include the tracks “Sprite,” featuring a fairy tale intro and odd meter, “Why,” a Westside Story-esque aria, “Borderlands,” with its empathetic chorus about the simple want of a good life, and “Singularity,” the epic, 22-minute-long closer in six movements.
It’s early in the year, but I can confidently say that this is most likely going to be one of my top albums of 2019. Absolutely phenomenal.