Devin Townsend – Devolution Series #1 – Acoustically Inclined, Live In Leeds
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 19/03/2021
Running Time: 60:56
Review by Beth Jones
The last year’s been pretty weird, right? I’ve felt it, in particular, in the last couple of months. And even though there is now a light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t think any one of us can say we’ve come out of these strange times completely unscathed. There’s going to be a lot of healing to do, and it’ll take a long time. But thankfully, as a community, we’re all connected by one thing. Music. And we should never underestimate the healing powers that it possesses. It calms the mind and soothes the soul. It doesn’t matter what sort of music you dig, if it connects to you, then it consumes you, and brings you back to a place of centring and peacefulness. If ever there was an artist that has that power over me, it is Devin Townsend. His spectacular voice, intricate composition, and flawless understanding of technique and musicianship make him, for me, one of the greatest composers of the modern age, who is in possession of a very special mind. He’s the type of creative who finds, and taps into, a euphoric Nirvana of music, to channel and challenge the woes of life. The last person to do this was Freddie Mercury.
So, it probably comes as no shock to you that I was ecstatically happy to receive his latest release to review. “Devolution Series #1 – Acoustically Inclined, Live In Leeds” is the first part in a series of recordings that Devin will be releasing, to exhibit a culmination of work, including the quarantine project, and live shows from the past few years. Devin describes these as “a grouping of oddities and interesting material that I would like people to hear, but don’t necessarily want to present as a major release.” The double bonus for me with this release is that it’s an acoustic album, and not only do I worship Devin Townsend as a god amongst men, I’m also a sucker for an acoustic album, because it strips everything back to focus on raw talent, rather than modern methodology.
This whole album is essentially a stripped back, acoustic whistle-stop tour of the history of Dev, interspersed with amusing anecdotes, like his dad’s view on life, and how Ziltoid became a thing. The album starts with a 6 minute ‘Intro’. The majority of this is talking – the opening banter of this intimate performance. Here, we see another reason why I hold Devin in such esteem. His jovial, light-hearted, but completely unassuming character is just joyful. He’s funny and quick, but also shy, and not afraid to admit his flaws. And crazily, he still finds it difficult to comprehend why audiences love him so much. He sees himself as just a guy playing some music. In a world full of egos, it’s refreshing. Anyway, I digress, again… So, the music. Well, that’s just as spectacular as the persona of Devin. Even in the intro, where he’s essentially just tuning up.
This sheer perfection continues without effort in ‘Let it Roll’. Stunning vocals, with strength but tenderness, and a ridiculous range, that most would give their eye teeth to possess. He even takes a brief pause, to have a chuckle with the audience after a top end note, then effortlessly drops into crunchier vocal tones. And this is essentially how the entire album continues. Faultless and flawless. Particular highlights for me are ‘Funeral,’ ‘Deadhead,’ ‘Love?’ and ‘Solar Winds.’ But in all honesty, there really are no weaknesses in this recording. Stunningly performed (and damn how I would have loved to see it live), and beautifully produced, mixed, and mastered. Another complete masterpiece from the mind of a genius. And, with every release that this magnificent human drops, my respect and admiration for him only grow further. Thank you Devin.
‘Hyperdrive’ (Acoustic – Live in Leeds 2019) (Official Video)
02. Let It Roll
10. Solar Winds
11. Thing Beyond Things
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.