Devin Townsend is a music extraordinaire who is well-known for his many different and successful projects that he has participated in over the last 25 years or so. Whether it be Strapping Young Lad or Devin Townsend Project the man has always thrown his heart into it. He is a Canadian machine that expertly and consistently generates epic-scale music in many diverse forms. Last year he released his latest solo album, Empath (InsideOut Music). He took his essence to a new level of eccentricity with a masterful embodiment of bonkers meets serene. Many cling to the wilds that is Dev for his honest presentation, whether that be in Jazz, Metal, or whatever genre he chooses to express himself with. His devotees gather in the masses at his shows for a guaranteed excellent and entertaining performance. Last December he brought his uncommon magic to England and much like his actual works, the presentation was a little unconventional. Dev is about to release his new live album, Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 (InsideOut Music) documenting that European tour. It will be released as a limited deluxe 2CD/Blu-Ray/DVD artbook package, a limited 2CD+DVD digipak, gatefold 3LP+2CD vinyl box set, and more.
Ah, gigs. Remember them? Well, I Am The Empire – Live From The 013 (Napalm Records), the new live release by veteran power metal act Kamelot is a welcome reminder of what live entertainment looked like in a pre-Covid world.
Since their 2009 reunion Accept have released three stellar albums, with 2014’s Blind Rage (Nuclear Blast) reaching number 1 in the charts of their native Germany. Long term guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes rejoined the fold but sadly original frontman Udo Dirkschneider did not, his replacement the American Brian Johnson lookalike Mark Tornillo. Restless and Live (Nuclear Blast) comes in a variety of formats including a double album recorded throughout Europe and a live DVD. Continue reading
In some circles, Ministry are spoken of in tones reserved elsewhere for Slayer. Reverence for their classic material combined with dissatisfaction over their current direction marks them as one of the “Untouchable Greats” in their field. This live DVD shows them touring their 2012 comeback album Relapse shortly before the death of guitarist Mike Scaccia, and is dedicated to his memory.
Having not paid serious attention to the band since 96’s Filthpig, my first observation about Last Tangle In Paris (UDR Music) was how the band have changed. Focussing heavily on tracks written without Paul Barker, we see a band operating comfortably somewhere between generic Groove Metal and mid-period Sepultura – crunchy, thrashy Metal built around repetitive grooves and simple choruses. Where Al Jourgensen once adopted a different vocal style for each song, he now employs the same angry sneer throughout, and their genre-defining “industrial” elements are now largely restricted to the use of samples and effects.
No band with their reputation can completely ignore the past, of course, and a barrage of four tracks finishes the set. Certainly crowd-pleasing, this section unfortunately raises its own problems; not only the contrast with the newer tracks, but also the authenticity of Jourgensen’s vocals. Put simply, the vocal performances on the classics are absolutely note-perfect imitations of the versions recorded two decades ago, and sometimes visibly out of synch with what Jourgensen appears to be singing.
A live DVD is about more than just the music, of course, and Last Tangle… aims to show us a band struggling to come to terms with their grief. Rehearsal footage featuring Scaccia is interesting for fans, but the poor sound quality reduces the value of these sections. Interviews with most of the current line-up cast light on their grieving process, and Jourgensen in particular speaks humbly and openly about the impact that Scaccia’s loss has had upon the band and his own life. Laudable and occasionally genuinely touching, but overall Last Tangle… is unlikely to be of much interest to anyone other than serious fans of their recent material.
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