Release Date: Sep 9, 2016
Record label: Inside Out Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Arena Rock, Pop-Metal, Progressive Metal, Power Metal, Guitar Virtuoso, Symphonic Metal
The seventh album released under the DTP banner, Transcendence is bookended by two cover songs; winding down with a version of Ween’s Transdermal Celebration, things get underway with a cover of Devin’s own Truth. If the Infinity version was visceral, chaotic and sublime, then the Transcendence version is glossy, bullish and enchanting. Now to the meat of the sandwich, the eight tracks in between.
His follow-up to 2014's Z² double-album (half of which was DTP's Sky Blue) finds the musical polymath and self-admitted control freak working in a new way: collaborating directly with the other Project musicians during the writing process. Musically, this offering follows the modern arena rock aspect of that predecessor. There is metal here (of the symphonic and power varieties), but it's woven into a fabric of prog folk, hard rock, and dreamy, catchy pop.
Devin Townsend's Twitter bio reads "Strive to Be Happy!," a piece of advice the Canadian metal stalwart has applied to both his personal life and music since he chopped his signature skullet, disbanded Strapping Young Lad and began his journey to sobriety. It's a change that has resulted in Townsend creating some of the most uplifting music of his career, and new album Transcendence is no exception. Townsend takes his fusion of weighty progressive metal and string, horn and choir sections to lofty heights here, not unlike what he achieved with Epicloud and Sky Blue.
Since he entered the spotlight as a vocalist for Steve Vai, Devin Townsend has been one of the most eclectic artists in metal. 'Transcendence,' the seventh release by his group is a diverse, multi-hued, cinematic offering that incorporates elements of prog, psychedelia, orchestral, and operatic metal without ever losing grasp of the importance of strong melodies. For example, the closing track “Transdermal Celebration” evolves from a dense, but euphoric assemblage of layered Broadway-worthy instrumentation and vocals into an atmospheric, beat-free mélange of ambient electronics.
Review Summary: The Devin Townsend Project has outlasted its purpose. The Devin Townsend Project has outlasted its purpose. Originally conceived with 2009's Ki as the vehicle for Devin to compose and release a quartet of albums that veer off the trail blazed by his solo career (while still being a part of his broader solo catalog), The Devin Townsend Project has largely hit a period of creative stagnation following 2011's dual release of Deconstruction and Ghost.
Canadian musician/producer Devin Townsend is an enigma. His career and discography is mind-boggling both in the quality and variety of material within, but also the sheer volume. To date, he has released something approximating 25 studio albums (nine as a solo artist and 16 in collaboration with others), and that's before we begin to scratch the surface of his early musical career.