It’s 2016, and nearly 2 years after the release of Z2 (Dark Matters/Sky Blue) Devin and his band of bearded, bald men have returned to save the world. The promise of a new Devin record has the ability to set the progressive music community ablaze, and that was certainly the case late last week when “Failure”, the first single off of the Devin Townsend Project’s latest “Transcendence”, began streaming. I, as an ardent fan and follower of all things Devin, immediately dove in, excited to see what Devy had in store for his nerdy legions.
After the last few records, critics pointed out that Devin’s prolific pace may be working against him, and it seems that for one reason or the other the man decided it would be beneficial to take a break. Pre-release chatter surrounding “Transcendence” indicates that the writing for the album was more of a collaborative effort this time around, with Devin’s last few records and live jaunts serving the dual purpose of solidifying a lineup. It is interesting then that the “band” vibe is conveyed pretty naturally over the course of “Failure”. Whereas some previous DTP outings sounded like exactly what they were, a bunch of excellent studio musicians coming together to realize one man’s vision, “Failure” plays as a song the same talented group of people wrote in someone’s basement, after playing together for years.
While not the most technical display in Devin’s catalog, there are some really cool elements at play on “Failure”. The vocals and main melody are absolutely enormous sounding, and the trademark “wall of sound” that Townsend is so adept at utilizing seems to be back in force on this record. While some aspects of the instrumentation are stripped down (a solitary Djent-y guitar drives the verse) other unusual flourishes abound, including a killer spaz-fusion guitar solo that breaks through at the halfway point and immediately grabs the listener’s attention with extended passages of unorthodox melodies and tasty playing. There isn’t any way of knowing yet if the album will prove to be the next step for Devin, or a rehash of former glories, but “Failure” is certainly an exciting prospect of things to come, and the hope that Devin’s creative juices are still flowing as strongly as ever.