October 19, 2020 Devin Townsend – Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1 (Live Album Review)
Genius is a term that certainly should not be thrown around lightly, and in order to reach that heightened status level, you must go through much struggle. However, it is the term that best describes the musical endeavors of Devin Townsend.
Nicknamed Hevy Devy, which is also the name of his own record label, Devin Townsend has created a wonderful catalog of Extreme Metal along with Progressive Metal absorbed into the atmosphere over the past 30 years. With his past struggles over his bipolar personality disorder, and distaste for the corporate music world, his path to success has taken some very interesting twists and turns.
Devin Townsend started the most well-known portion of his career in his Extreme Metal band Strapping Young Lad. Since then, he also has created numerous solo albums, plus the few year stints of The Devin Townsend Project, and The Devin Townsend Band. Fast forward to the present, and he has an in-the-works album called Lightwork that will be released sometime in the near future. Until then, he is also set to release a live album titled Order of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1 on October 23, 2020 through Inside Out Music.
Lately, Townsend has been touring with only himself on stage, and it is quite amazing to see the sheer volume one man with an acoustic guitar can release into a large audience. He, of course, switched up to electric guitar at times, but the one man show has been an unusual display of success.
This all in mind, Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1 was recorded in London on his 2019 tour in support of the well-renowned Empath. With this live concert he had an entire entourage playing with him; something that is like watching the other side of Townsend’s brain in full effect. Live performers include Guitarists Mike Keneally of Dethklok and Markus Reuter of Stick Men, Drummer Morgan Agren of Kaipa, Bassist Nathan Navarro, Keyboardist Diego Tejeida of Haken, as well as Guitarist/Vocalist Ché Aimee Dorval. There are also backing vocals from Arabella Packford and Samantha Anne Preis. Mixing in the ethereal vocals of these ladies is a signature style he uses which is a very dynamic enhancement in a live setting. Plus, Townsend himself has a one of a kind vocal range that is absolutely all over the map, visiting all the most exciting countries.
Overall, the live album features 16 tracks covering the majority of the Empath album, along with a few treats. And it is an unforgettable experience that is best served start to finish through all of its one hour and forty-nine minute runtime. In fact, it feels like your brain is exploding with love, joy, and torturous excitement in all directions simultaneously. Empathy is a difficult emotion to control, and Townsend has found a way to just enjoy every waking moment of it, even if it hurts a little. The track “Castaway/Genesis” is exactly about this concept, and it could not have resulted in a more brilliant live rendition for this album.
One aspect anyone can count on with a Hevy Devy concert is his commentary and mixing in of extras to the arrangements which are always top notch. Only Townsend can sing some raunchy lyrics as a joke, and mix them into a serious song, which results an ironically eloquent moment. Sometimes, he will just rip apart, re-work, and renew a song for a live performance. Leaving fans breathless, this is true for the very different, serene version of “Spirits Will Collide” as heard on this live album.
Overall, this live album captures all the great moments Hevy Devy is known for, but the beauty of his artistic mind is that it is constantly fluctuating, so no two experiences are ever the same. Even if you cannot understand the complexity of this man’s mind, you can certainly appreciate the hard work and dedication it must take to reproduce this type of skilled volume in Heavy Metal.
Unfortunately Townsend was forced to pushed off this three-part tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, 2021 will bring him, and other bands, back into the souls of fans. Until then, enjoy experiencing this live album, Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1. Enjoying this live broadcast, even with the unexpected wild version of “Disco Inferno” that takes over the pre-ending, along with the great finale of “Kingdom,” Cryptic Rock gives it 5 out of 5 stars.