It’s been three years since Canadian musical contortionist Devin Townsend confused the hell out of everyone with Empath, an album of such relentless eclecticism and stupefying eccentricity that even now it remains almost beyond comprehension. A kitchen sink album in every respect, our heroic Canuck threw literally everything into the mix. From death metal and jazz to Chad Kroeger and cats, Empath was the mindfuck to end all mindfucks.
We chatted once again with the great Devin Townsend – all about his new album “Lightwork” now releasing on November 4th, 2022 via InsideOut Music! Devy discussed the last few years and releases in his life, his creative process, and then a track-by-track breakdown of the new album with songwriting and lyrical inspirations, and a hint at the next Devy album.
VOLA playing at Rebellion Manchester Credit: Rich Price
Opening up tonight were Nevada three-piece Four Stroke Baron, a band who are difficult to classify. Heavy slabs of groove-laden prog smash funkily across a packed audience. The set is marred only by the fact that in a couple of songs the singer notably loses his voice and the band without missing a beat goes on to deliver their first instrumental set from the dark smoke-laden stage of Rebellion and its notoriously bad lighting. Handling an awkward situation very well indeed they still delivered a solid and enjoyable set that had the audience’s heads bobbing along in time.
Four years after previous studio outing, Heir To Despair (Candlelight), Japanese avant-garde black metal act Sigh switch record labels once again and return with twelfth full length album Shiki (Peaceville). In their native language, the title translates into many different things such as ceremony, colour and motivation but the main themes present here are “four seasons” and “time to die”. A concept derived from a traditional Japanese poem, frontman Mirai Kawashima takes an existential approach to the seasons, watching cherry blossoms (a symbol of Spring) in full bloom while going through the Autumnal stage of his life with Winter just around the corner.Continue reading →
One of the most influential thrash metal acts of the eighties, progressive Canadians Voivod have never been content with sitting back and churning out the same record over and over again. A constant desire for change and reinvention has meant the quartet from Jonquière, Quebec has had to endure much unnecessary and often ludicrous pigeon-holing over the years. Post-Thrash. Punk. Speed. Proto-Industrial. Avant-Garde. Progressive. And even Nuclear Metal (whatever that is).
“Progressive rock” is a term that can encompass a wide variety of sounds. At one point or another in their 35-year history, Porcupine Tree — the brainchild of Steven Wilson — have probably touched upon most of these. Having put out several albums of electronica-infused psychedelic space rock since their formation in 1987, the band reached a peak of critical and commercial success in the 2000s with the metal-influenced experimental songcraft exemplified by In Absentia and Fear of a Blank Planet. By the start of 2011, however, Porcupine Tree appeared to be no more, with Wilson announcing a hiatus to focus on his solo career; he stated as recently as 2018 that getting the band back together “would seem like a terribly backward step”.
For every rush of adrenaline there’s the eventual lull. For each euphoric high there’s the comedown to follow. Thunderheads (Aqualamb Recordings) — the debut record of LaMacchia — plays like the 3am winding down of a night of excess. Thrills and sensual desires wedded to a shadow of sadness and introspection.
Good story telling is key to engaging a listener. Everygrey captures the listener with both words and music with their newest album A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) (Napalm Records). The lyrics tell a coherent story that is augmented by the composition; both what is played and in the silence in between. The album runs like a play; it has a first, second, and third act clearly delineated. There is rising action, a climax, falling action, and a denouement; a tragedy in 10 parts. Everygrey’s A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) creates an impression of being an open love letter to Vittorio de Sica.
Having amassed a discography of over twenty albums as the lead vocalist (of which this is the fifth solely under his own name), and nearly two dozen guest appearances across a thirty year professional recording career, you could have forgiven James LaBrie for taking some overdue and well-earned time off when the 2020 Dream Theater world tour was halted. Instead, he and Eden’s Curse (whose Trinity album was adorned by his distinctive a glorious pipes) guitarist Paul Logue began trading the musical ideas that would grow into Beautiful Shade of Gray (InsideOut Music).
As one cycle ends, another begins. The flamboyant, dancing Cardinal Copia has been anointed Papa Emeritus IV and the plague-ridden doom of the 14th century is gone. Taking place hundreds of years after Prequelle, Tobias Forge and his band of Nameless Ghouls, otherwise known as psychedelic doom rock popsters Ghost, leave the rats behind as latest chapter Impera (Spinefarm/Loma Vista) tells of new empires built from the ashes of the old.