Devin Townsend Project, ‘Transcendence’ – Album Review
The Devin Townsend Project have regrouped following 2014’s Z2 addition to the Ziltoid concept, delivering another album with yet another new sound. On Transcendence, Townsend’s mindset is made immediately clear by the striking artwork of a woman seated in the lotus position with the flower represented beneath her. The levitating feel of the cover aligns with Hevy Devy’s wall of sound production, this time invoking a weightless feel to the record overall.
A lush guitar melody draped in ethereal keys create a peaceful, floating sensation over the opening moments of “Truth,” (a re-working of the same Infinity album track) but this state is abruptly jarred with a flattening blow as the guitars begin to guide the mechanical, stunted pace of the track. The song serves as a bit of an overture for the rest of Transcendence with its schizophrenic mood shifts, as Devy never seems too comfortable staying in any particular mood for too long on this one. Featuring plenty of repetitive, driving rhythms and choir vocals, it’s also a glimpse into Townsend’s lyrical phrasing as the album finds the mastermind echoing various mantras from song to song.
“Stormbending” segues brilliantly from the crystalline tranquility at the end of the album opener with a roaring guitar slide. One of the more calming tracks on Transcendence, these moments “of clarity” (“Secret Sciences”) flow only to be ebbed by more somber elements as presented in the pensive “Failure.” The balance of light and shade is very much in place and DTP build up to enlightening moments and eruptions of light (the entirety of “Stars”), which feels especially radiant after the manic frustration of the nearly 10 minute personality clash of “Higher.”
The title track earns its name through its meditative quality, largely thanks to the tribal percussion. As Transcendence goes on, it becomes apparent that Townsend has become increasingly content through the use of these mantras as the music becomes more and more positive… for the most part, of course. One element of surprise comes on “Offer Your Light,” a too-hard-to-deny all out fun track that opens with a high pitched, dancey synth lead. The most energetic song here — not to be confused for most aggressive — provides a rush of power, nearly orgasmic in scope, and is positively all too catchy.
With 15 minutes split evenly between the closing tracks, “From the Heart” and “Transdermal Celebration” (Ween cover) slow the pulse after “Offer Your Light,” with the former coming across as the warming glow behind the woman on the cover art. Drifting off in glittery shoegaze and gorgeous vocal harmonies, these gentle passages rejuvenate the listener in a dream state. “Transdermal Celebration” feels like waking up from that dream state with the opening guitar chords, feeling refreshed and recharged.
Transcendence is another deeply personal look into the mind of Devin Townsend; a well never in danger of drying up with talks already stirring about an upcoming symphony from the visionary. He loosened his grip on the creative reigns this time around, allowing his bandmates (most of whom began working with him nearly 15 years ago) to dip into the songwriting and even let the final production come down to his engineers. The result shows no trace of weakness in any area, making for another fine inclusion in the curious canon of the Devin Townsend Project.
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