First Listen: Devin Townsend Project, ‘Failure’

The Proglodytes team gives our first impressions for the latest Devin Townsend Project track, ‘Failure’, from their new album, Transcendence, which will hit the stores on September 2, 2016.


Arthur: My first impression was, ‘this is definitely prog.’ More proggy song structure (a lot of the song is in 5), orchestral elements, protracted guitar solo over syncopation, several movements, etc. I know Devin has been ambivalent at best about whether he is a progressive musician, but this particular song seems to be very much in the vein of traditional prog rock and metal. I’m hearing U.K./Holdsworth, Empire-era Queensryche, and Dream Theater. I doubt this was intentional. I don’t think Devin sits around listening to Dream Theater. But he’s tapping into the same aural space. On my third listen it’s really growing on me. It’s really getting me excited about his new project. I heard Anneke is going to be on this project and I’m not hearing her in this song, but other than that this is a really cool sound. Prog fans are going to love this.

Thomas: It is no secret that Devin Townsend is one of my favorite artists of all time, so I am going to try and be measured here. The song starts out with heavy, epic guitars that are playing in a chunky ostinato pattern. Devin is at his most operatic in this song, as he glides up and down his register, from his traditional, aggressive mid range to his falsetto. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that he’s one of the most versatile voices in progressive metal, and this song shows that. The guitar solo took me by surprise, and is very Vai-esque in its phrasing. My favorite part of this song is the chorus, which has Devin harmonizing with himself, singing flowing notes over orchestral waves over the repeated, heavy guitar ostinato. The word epic is so overused in modern vernacular, but it is the best fitting word to describe the sheer size of the sound- it’s like a musical tidal wave. I look forward to blasting this on something other than my desktop speakers. All in all, this song reminds me of the darker, heavier moments of Synchestra, but with a bit more sonic refinement.

Xerxes:  If I were to Facebook status my opinions on Devin Townsend, it would definitely be, “it’s complicated.” I think he’s a musical genius, but he releases enough stuff that I don’t care for that I haven’t purchased a full album by him to date, despite his frequent collaboration with Anneke van Giersbergen, whom I adore. If this is that can be expected from Transcendence, his new album, I’ll have to consider changing my ways. I really love the scope and vocals here. I absolutely hear the Steve Vai phrasing in the solo, which demonstrates that Townsend is both technically proficient and versatile, as it isn’t the approach one generally hears from his soloing. In this song, I hear a little Nightwish, and little Evergrey, but with Devin’s distinctive vocals, which are spot on. I really like this.

Jared: Devin Townsend said in a Metal Hammer interview that he wrote 50 or 60 songs leading up to this album, and then whittled it down. My first impression was, “if the rest of the album is anywhere near this good, I’m going to be very happy.” I have to go with Arthur on this one… this is a very proggy track. Devin also stated on his twitter feed today, “next track we’ll release is a bit more proggy and neurotic.” So, we’re off to a good start!

The track opens with a driving guitar riff that drones over orchestral chord changes. Devin’s use of heavily reverbed falsetto vocals adds an ethereal element to the track. I love Anneke van Giersbergen’s vocals, but its cool to hear Devin fill this vocal space himself. The chorus has the dense wall of sound that we’ve come to know and love from Devin. The extended guitar solo is an awesome addition to Devin’s sound. The end of the solo is very reminiscent of movement 4 of Rush’s “La Villa Strangiato,” with the interplay between the drums and guitar. Anytime I can get Devin and Rush in one track, I’m happy. It sounds like there are new creative forces at play on this album, most likely the result of his new approach to get more input from the band rather than dictating every detail himself. It will be interesting to hear the result of this new creative process.


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