Album Review: Devin Townsend – Empath: Live In America

Devin Townsend Announces Live Album

Album Review: Devin Townsend – Empath: Live In America
Reviewed by Richard Oliver

Devin continues with his series of Devolution albums which offers curiosities on the side from his main album releases. We have had so far in the series an acoustic live album and one of his many live streams released during lockdown but this time round we have a live album taken from the 2020 US tour which was unfortunately cut short due to the covid pandemic. These shows followed on from a UK and European tour which was represented in the live release “Order Of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1” but this was a far more stripped down line-up with guitarist Mike Keneally, keyboardist Diego Tejeida, bassist Nathan Navarro, drummer Morgan Ågren and co-vocalist and guitarist Ché Aimee Dorval making up the band for the short-lived tour.

Much like the European shows of this tour, it sees Devin and his band in a more “free-form” style with more loose and interpretive versions of the songs with no backing tracks and no click tracks and a more back to basics raw and fully live approach. Helped immensely by the staggering musical talent of his band with a repertoire including Frank Zappa, Haken and Joe Satriani amongst others, these are cool off-kilter takes on Devin’s material and the band sound like they are immense amounts of fun whilst performing.

Album Review: Devin Townsend – Empath: Live In America

With this being recorded on the tour for the “Empath” album three songs make it onto this album - Evermore, Why and Sprite - with plenty of fan favourites from the Dev archive making up the album such as March Of The Poozers, Hyperdrive and Kingdom as well as a few improv jams and a song each from Casualties Of Cool and Strapping Young Lad resulting in a nice mix of material and a well rounded show. Devin is on fine form throughout with his insane vocal range ensuring hairs stand on end and his goofy sense of humour getting some belly laughs from this reviewer. One thing that helps elevate this live performance is having Ché Aimee Dorval up front and centre sharing vocal duties with Devin and sounding absolutely stunning.

Despite being an ‘on the side’ live album it sounds absolutely fantastic and is mixed and mastered to perfection but then again with Devin’s levels of perfection it was never going to sound anything less than spectacular. “Devoluton Series #3 - Empath Live In America” isn’t going to particularly appeal to a casual Devin listener but his legion of rabidly loyal fans (myself included) will thoroughly enjoy this live release as it captures what is so joyous, zany, fun and so bloody brilliant about the Devin live experience. It has definitely got me very excited for his headlining appearance at ArcTanGent Festival in August.

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