This year has been the perfect time to release live albums, it seems. We are all so hungry for live music that these releases are the next best thing. Devin Townsend has jumped on that train, and has released what appears to be only the first volume of his Empath tour, called “Order of Magnitude”. The live album/DVD released on October 23rd through Inside Out Music.
Devin Townsend needs no introduction. He’s been “Hevy Devy” for basically 30 years now, and his eccentric, quirky, and often hilarious style of extreme progressive metal is his alone. No one else sounds like him, either vocally or musically. On this live release, he is joined by some major players in the progressive music, namely Morgan Ågren on drums, Nathan Navarro on bass, Mike Keneally on additional guitars and keyboards, Che Aimee Dorval on guitars and vocals, Diego Tejeida on keyboards, Markus Reuter on touch guitar, and backup singers Samantha Preis, Anne Preis, and Arabella Packford. It is quite a group of musicians he has gathered, and they play their hearts out.
The first thing you will notice about this live video is the atmosphere. Devin is a master showman and he knows how to keep the crowd engaged. Sometimes, that could be through little games or maybe short monologues, or sometimes it can be through his evangelical use of f-bombs. Yes, this release isn’t exactly kid-friendly, either because of the language or because of the sexual innuendos and jokes. I only mention this because my kids love to watch his videos from “Empath”, but I will probably skip showing them this concert.
The atmosphere is more than Devin’s showmanship, though. There is a casual air about the stage. The musicians seem very comfortable with each other, though that is probably due to Diego making cocktails at various points throughout the show. In fact, the release begins with Diego cranking out some drinks. It’s a fun and different aura for the show, and it seems like the crowd feels like part of the show itself.
As for quality, this show is a real winner. Devin sounds amazing vocally, and the mix is perfect, allowing Diego’s keys to slice through the heaviness with ease. Additionally, there aren’t very many shortcuts taken, so you will see many of the cartoonish accents in Devin’s music played and sung live. That really impressed me. There are several camera angles, the light show is above average, and the direction is fantastic.
One thing I need to mention is the inclusion of Che Aimee Dorval. In my opinion, she makes the show. Her vocals are smooth and powerful, and she hits every single note she attempts. She has a calming presence next to Devin’s chaotic personality, and she brings soul to the entire affair. I found that my favorite parts of the show were her moments, more than often.
Below you will find the tracklisting, and it’s a good one. Several favorites from “Empath” are present, such as “Borderlands”, “Sprite”, and “Why?” You will hear “Spirits Will Collide”, only an acoustic version with Che Aimee singing the lead. You will also hear some instrumental musings, such as the riveting percussive brilliance of “Gigpig Jam”. All in all, I was happy with the songs chosen from “Empath” and from Devin’s overall discography.
Two of my favorite songs of the night are “Heavens End” and “Kingdom”. The former is one of Che Aimee’s best performances as she hits high notes above the roar of the music. I really enjoy that one. I also love “Kingdom”, the song which closes the night. Fans will already know how wonderful this song is, but it has a certain zeal and atmospheric power on this live release that I absolutely adore.
Overall, “Order of Magnitude” is a must-buy for Devin fans, and I think it is a good starting place for listeners who are either curious, or maybe became fans with “Empath”. This show balances professionalism with peculiarity, performance with familiarity, and high production values with inside jokes. It’s a great release, through and through.
1. Borderlands (9:30)
2. Evermore (5:44)
3. War (7:00)
4. Sprite (5:25)
5. Gigpig Jam (7:03)
6. Coast (5:08)
7. Gato (5:32)
8. Heavens End (11:03)
9. Ain’t Never Gonna Win (4:08)
10. Deadhead (7:58)
11. Why? (8:14)
12. Lucky Animals (3:43)
13. Castaway / Genesis (8:03)
14. Spirits Will Collide (6:31)
15. Disco Inferno (6:37)
16. Kingdom (7:35)
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