The New LoFi

Ten Years

Devin Townsend Demands Attention With New(ish) “Genesis” Video

It’s weird. It’s fast. It’s epic. It’s totally Devy. And it demands your full and utter attention as Townsend debuts first offering from upcoming album “Empath”.

“Heavy Devy” is surely one of the great jesters of the metal arena – and that’s what makes him and his multi-genred music cut through the wallpaper time and time again. Personally, I’ve always preferred the outsiders anyway. As a metal fan, this truth is self-evident, metal can get all full of itself. Devin’s the kid pulling out the plug and letting all the hot air out.

Let’s face it, though, he’s a pretty prolific guy. But this latest video of his for the song “Genesis” (off his upcoming and now heavily anticipated release “Empath”) demands your attention.

And it’ll get it too. You literally cannot take your eyes off this thing. And the best part is it’s just another Devin move that’s become his signature: lull an audience in with a goofy concept, and they’ll stay for the pure spirited, emotionally charged and sonically amazing songs that makes feet tap, heads bang and eyes water. But before you watch below, here’s a little primer to wet the whistle.

With Devin Townsend Project’s Deconstruction, Townsend delivered blistering and hypnotic metal with manic ambition, recalling his Strapping Young Lad darkness, but in contrast, his blues-jazz duet with Ché Aimee Dorval in Casualties of Cool showed off his tempered, soft, dreamy side, like much of his solo output. He’s a very ying/yang kinda guy.

With “Genesis”, one can’t help see how everything he’s done (and he’s done a lot) is somehow reflected here. And he intended it to, too.

On his Facebook page, he teased the following:

“On this album Devin has decided to see what would happen if all the styles that make up his current interests were finally represented in one place. To finally shake the fear of expectation, and just do what it is he was meant to do creatively, EMPATH, true to the name, is about allowing the audience a feeling for a variety of musical emotions. The musical dynamics represented on this single album are broad, challenging, and immense. To approach this sort of work with a long history of what makes heavy music ‘heavy’, allows this to be done with a type of power rarely heard.”

So essentially, it’s Devy 360.

And yet, as the first single, it’s still pretty weird. But to be sure, this is classic Devin firing on every weapon in his rainbow-coloured, 90s, “nerfgun” arsenal. Giving a bit more structural flair while retaining his catchy, pop-orientated notions and phrases ­– signalling a new level of songwriting maturity – this is simply red meat for the cult. The thing bops along like a bouncing ball – ricocheting off the walls at a moment’s notice. And then coming straight at you.

Oh, and there’s lots of cats.

And a cow’s moo. Not even kidding. And most definitely the least surprising thing about “Genesis”.

There’s nods to his Project, his Band, his solo output, including a faint crackle of Casualties from Ché – but throughout the album, notable names like Steve Vai, his former guitar mentor, as well as Mike Keneally, Morgan Ågren from Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects fame, regular Anneka Van Giersbergen, and even (get this) Chad Kroeger, get in on the fun. Yes, that Chad Kroeger.

We start off with one-twos of punctuated stabs, both in your face and coolly aloof. The song here has a sprightly manoeuvring about it that feels joyful and restless – lots of Dream Theatre-esque fills. From then on we experience a hyperdrive of “wall-of-sound” blast-beated bits that recall’s the fury of Keep of Kalessin, soothing, angelic passages, his super dynamic vocal gymnastics, and a pretty weird-at-first song structure that immediately grabs you and drives your curiosity through a labyrinth of motifs, riffs and general badassery. The funk near the end here is compelling, no word of a lie. Which brings me to the video itself.

Sat at a table, he plugs in his headphones, presses play on his iPhone, and just sits there and bops his head to the music. Brilliant. You bald-headed bastard, you’ve done it again. Video of the year. Okay, maybe not. But there’s more. In front of a green screen, the visuals show us advancing in symmetry ala The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” video, as we fly through everything from dreamy beaches, distant galaxies, ancient monuments, some silly memery, and some pretty stunningly garish but quintessential Devin typography. Oh, and lots of cats. And why not.

It’ll be released on March 29. Listen, I could rap, wax and slap lyrical about this thing all day long. Press that play button and marvel at more from the now be-beanied, once be-scullet skull of this musical genius.