Review: Devin Townsend – Lightwork

Canadian musical genius Devin Townsend shows no sign of slowing down with this, the 26th studio release of his career. Following 2019’s ‘Empath’ record, work on his highly anticipated album ‘Lightwork’ was delayed. In that gap Townsend ever the workaholic released two stop-gap albums ‘Snuggles’ and ‘The Puzzle’ with the former being a calming listen and the latter a tad more chaotic.

So is the wait for ‘Lightwork worth it? Let’s find out.

Opening to an almost marching drum beat and Devin’s soothing vocals, first single ‘Moonpeople’ sets the tone for the record. Calming and breezy with very little in the way of guitar. Only really showing signs of Devin the metal musician in the final section of the song. ‘Lightworker’ starts with a gentle piano and some epic orchestral guitars before settling back into a beautiful lullaby. The chorus is one of Dev’s best and the first sign of anything heavy on the record! Huge and grandiose “Tell me there’s another, Lead me to the mother, We are all of us“ sings Devin in his inimitable style, followed by “May your heart be filled with peace, May your soul sleep well”. There’s a real sense listening to the lyrics on ‘Lightwork’ that Devin must be in a very good place mentally.

‘Call of the Void’ really feels like it sums up the miserable state of the world right now but tries to offer a glimmer of hope “Because when you feel the world’s insane, relax! Just follow your heart, the words will work out as they freak out”. Whilst many of the themes revolve around peace and unity there can be peace in solitude as Townsend states during Heartbreaker “Someday I’ll be on my own, In front of the ocean and you can all fuck off”. Despite this, the overall message of the song seems positive. Musically ‘Heartbreaker is by far the most progressive track on the record with intricate guitar and synth lines weaving in and out of the lyrics.

‘Dimensions’ is the only song on the album that could be considered fast in terms of the tempo. Most songs have a relatively gentle pace. It’s a densely packed song that includes some Steve Vai-esque soloing from Devin. A rare treat!

The production on the record is of the usual high standard for a DT record, this time Garth Richardson was in the producer’s chair. This allowed Devin to be pushed out of his comfort zone and also focus on his writing. There are tons of great hooks on this album that will stick in your head but it’s Townsend’s lyrics that really hit home with me. The importance of self-care, knowing who you are and being ok with that, and not being defined by the expectations of others are all things covered when I was in addiction recovery so these points really resonated with me.

Vocally Devin focuses more on his soothing vocal style but there are a few examples of his metal scream and vocal fry’s, notably in ‘Equinox’.

Closing with ‘Children of God’, a 10-minute mantra ending with the lyrics “Free your mind, Please be kind, Love” before fading to the crashing sound of waves presumably around the metaphorical lighthouse that is this body of work.

Themes of hope, love and peace (both inner and outer) in the wake of chaos and instability over sweeping progressive rock epics will leave the listener feeling very at ease. It’s a truly optimistic record that feels like a comforting blanket being wrapped around you and given the appalling state of the world right now its timing couldn’t be better.

Available November 4th via InsideOutMusic 

Review – Colin Plumb

Devin will embark on a European headline tour in early 2023. The full list of dates can be found below:

FEB 2023

21 Tues NO – Oslo, Sentrum Scene
23 Thu FI – Helsinki, House of Culture
24 Fri FI – Tampere, Pakkahuone
25 Sat FI – Oulu, Tullisali
27 Mon SE – Stockholm, Cirkus
28 Tues SE – Gothenburg, Pustervik

MARCH 2023

1 Wed DK – Copenhagen, Amager Bio
3 Fri NL – Tilburg, 013
4 Sat DE – Cologne, Carlswerk Victoria
5 Sun FR – Lille, Le Splendid
7 Tues DE – Leipzig, WERK 2
8 Wed DE – Frankfurt, Batschkapp
10 Fri CH – Zurich, X-tra
11 Sat DE – Munich, Backstage Werk
13 Mon AT – Dornbirn, Conrad Sohm
14 Tues IT – Milan, Live Club
16 Thu ES – Barcelona, Razzmatazz
17 Fri ES – Madrid, La Riviera
18 Sat PT – Lisbon, Cineteatro Capitólio
20 Mon FR – Toulouse, Le Bikini
21 Tues FR – Marseille, Le Moulin
22 Wed FR – Clermont Ferrand, La Coopérative De Mai
24 Fri BE – Brussels, Ancienne Belgique
25 Sat DE – Stuttgart, LKA-Longhorn
26 Sun FR – Paris, L’Olympia
28 Tues UK – Bexhill-on-Sea, De La Warr Pavilion
29 Wed UK – Bristol, Academy
31 Fri UK – Manchester, Academy

APRIL 2023

1 Sat UK – Nottingham, Rock City
2 Sun UK – Newcastle, University
4 Tues UK – Wolves, KK’s Steel Mill
5 Wed UK – Norwich, UEA



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