Album Review

Devin Townsend- Empath

One of my personal musical heroes Devin Townsend has released another masterpiece today “Empath”.  Sure he’s talented, has a great operatic and dynamic voice and has a unique approach to guitar.  What’s impressed me the most is when I discovered his solo music when Strapping Young Lad was around. Sure SYL is the gateway for most people who love Devin and his music. I dug the band, and it was great for that time in his life.  He had other music while he was constantly playing SYL shows! And it sounded nothing like SYL, and had several albums by the time they released “Alien”.  He’s a very diverse and well rounded musician who can sing and write in a plethora of styles, and does a pretty good job at it.

He’s gotten into ambience a lot more in his older years, more progressive and experimental music as well.  Devin even wrote a bluesy album “Casualties Of The Cool” with this great female vocalist Che Aimee Dorval.  He wrote extreme metal with SYL, and super ambient albums like “Ghost” and “Ki” under the “Devin Townsend Project” name.  This mind blowing new release “Empath” is a legitimate bunch of all of these styles, and even MORE.

There were so many guests on the album it’s time to list them all!

  • Devin Towsnend- Lead vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, programming, production
  • Nathan Navarro- Bass
  • Morgen Agren- Drums
  • Samus Paulicelli- Drums
  • Anup Sastry- Drums
  • Elliot Desgagnes- Additional Vocals
  • Che Aimee Dorval- Additional Vocals
  • Anneke van Giersbergen- Additional Vocals
  • Chad Kroeger- Additional Vocals
  • Ryan Dahle- Additional Guitars
  • Steve Vai- Additional Guitars
  • Elektra Women’s Choir- Choir


PHEW! Sure, he writes his own music but needs other musicians who work well with this different phases.  This album has so many great guests it’s basically mind-blowing at the different backgrounds of these artists.  Sometimes it’s viewed as cheap or a cash great promotion, which is pretty true in most cases……but definitely not here.  Devin is a legitimate visionary and KNOWS what his music needs, has to sound like, and the such.


Devin on a horse in out space with a laser gun and a random astronaut floating to his demise in outer space. Sweet!

One thing I’ve loved he’s progressively gotten better at every album is how wide, beautiful and melodic his choruses are.  Catchy isn’t the right word, fabulous might be the right word.  He employs a serious talent of finding the right melody, chords to go with it, and not always using his voice.  Devin uses all these guests in such manners, and is infamous for doing duets in some parts.  His operatic voice enhances everything (even when he adds a bit of sandpaper, but not necessarily growling) especially when there’s synthesizer and string tracks in the choruses.

Devin fans haven’t had anything wildly heavy to chew on since his modern day shredderpiece “Deconstruction” from 2011.  “Empath” believe it or not has some really heavy moments, and the visionary AGAIN knew who he needed……Samus Paulicelli, famous youtuber and studio drummer for Decrepit Birth.  We all know how beautiful his blast beats are, but man his fills will always be as awesome.  Devin knows Samus is a madman of extreme metal, and the Canadian duo really hit it off.  Having a few different drummers (Anup is a modern metal drummer with prog tendencies, and Morgan is a jazzy fusion type drummer) really set the mood on the songs, and he knew exactly what styles he needed.  You expect a jazz drummer to blast their way through a heavier song? Or a death metal guy to get jazzy? Not really….but crazier things have happened! 😉  And Devin even stated that in his cool documentary videos leading up to today’s release.  It wasn’t an insult at other drummers or who he chose, everyone just has different styles and traits.


A super rare photo of Devin actually trying to be serious and look it.  Holy cats!


We all know how great and diverse Devin is.  Maybe it’s a stretch calling him a modern day Zappa, but hell I’ll talk to you all day about that stretch.  The man has gotten into production, as well.  What ISN’T on his resume? Maybe world instruments? Shit I bet he can play Sitar too! Diversity is the spice of life, my friends.  He even went out of his way to record highway sounds in a traffic tunnel somewhere in Canada (Vancouver I think it was) for a track from “Ghost”.  He’s used orchestras so many times (REAL deal folks, like another big idol of mine Steven Wilson) it’s been expected in his most recent albums.  They’re not cheap either, assembling a larger group of 15 to 25 (give or take) strings players of violin, viola and cello with a conductor.  And his lavish personality makes him an even more likable character!

Devin won’t give you a bad album, and “Empath” bleeds that statement.  This phenomenal masterpiece of epic proportions has proved my obsession with this guy’s music, and also another proof for great musicians coming out of Canada (besides Bieber).  Thank you Devin for the inspiration and flawless music you have given us YET AGAIN.  Thank you SO MUCH.




Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.