First Listen: Devin Townsend, “Genesis” (from new album, Empath)

One of the most anticipated (and potentially controversial) releases of 2019 is Devin Townsend’s Empath. According to Devin himself, this is one of his most ambitious albums, and has featured an over-the-top, “kitchen-sink” approach from beginning to end. Watch the video below.

On “Genesis” as the first single, Devin Townsend said:

“As the musical nature of Empath shifts from track to track, (from musical theater, death metal, prog free jazz and more commercial things) it was a hard decision. Some people wanted the relatively straightforward song ‘Spirits Will Collide’ while others wanted a more cinematic banging track like ‘Evermore’. We ultimately chose to go with the opening track, ‘Genesis’, as it not only features around five different stylistic shifts (some quite jarring, to be fair 🙂 but also includes all three drummers, the choir, the orchestra, and basically the kitchen sink as well. This song is ultimately about facing fear, as well as analyzing one’s relationship with one’s past in order to progress.The record has an overarching theme of what I like to view as ‘hope’ in chaotic times.

I have been working on this record for more than a year, and it represents a kind of shift for me in my personal and professional world that I am quite proud of. It’s the first time in quite a few years I have made an album like this, and I think if nothing else, ‘Genesis’ represents the chaotic nature of the project (and the world at large currently) in the most accurate way I can do at this stage of life.”

Here are our first impressions here at Proglodytes:

Thomas: I have been a fan of Devin Townsend for almost 20 years now (almost 2/3 of my life!), and so I have been able to see him explore various genres and styles practically in real-time. This song seems to be everything he said it would be- an amalgamation of everything he’s ever done, all wrapped up in one song, with a choir and an orchestra and 3 drummers to boot. I hear echoes of Infinity, Addicted!, Deconstruction, and Epicloud in this track. And despite being 7 minutes (7 minutes barely contains this HUGE track), I have been enamored with this song since I first heard it, and I have not been able to get that “LET THERE BE LIGHT” part out of my head all day.

I can tell from press that Devin and the label might have had some hesitation regarding the structure and intensity of the song from the way they’ve framed it in the press releases. My initial thought was “This will be like eating candy for Devin fans, but I wonder if a non-Devin fan would find it interesting or even listenable.” So, I tested that question out with a few friends, and all of them have reported back with positive reviews (especially in regards to the very trippy video), so I am very interested to see what this song and album will do for his career.

Rylee: A major theme of Devin Townsend’s career seems to be reinvention. Through the years, he has been known to periodically switch directions dramatically. With Genesis, it seems he’s accelerated that timeline, and is now reinventing himself every few measures. This song is a fun mini-epic that gives us a brief snapshot of about a million genres, all of which he seems to pull of with incredible proficiency. The production is top notch, and the video is excellent. This definitely leaves me curious and excited to hear what the rest of the album has in store.

Iris: Here’s a metaphor to describe my initial reaction. Imagine. You’re in an amusement park, and you see that they have a new rollercoaster. It’s huge. Tons of loopings, twisters, and fast bits. You already liked the previous rollercoasters, so you’re definitely going to try this one out. The waiting line is not as long as you expect, and you get seated fast. Before you get buckled up, one of the employees comes to you and gives you a kitten to hold on tight during the ride. You’re confused, but you do love kittens, so you’re actually quite happy. Right when you and kitty are snug in the safety belt, you get launched with 100 miles an hour into space, hell, heaven, and back to the amusement park. Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a kitten and a happy face.

What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments below.


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