With each new album, Devin Townsend Project shows another side of itself and ‘Transcendence’ is no exception. What was once Townsend’s backing band has now become something just as large and majestic as the legacy that he created, and ‘Transcendence’ proves that with just a single listen.
Though the record itself is not overly heavy and seldom uses harsh vocals, it is a deeply complex and heavily passionate experimental, symphonic and progressive metal album that seems much stronger to me that their previous effort, ‘Z² (Sky Blue)’. Though it has a slow start with a new version of “The Truth,” which originally appeared on Devin’s solo album from 1998 ‘Infinity,’ and which was rearranged for the new album, things really kick into gear with the explosive and spacey “Stormbending.”
“Failure” starts out rather softly, but builds into one of the most threatening songs on the disc. That’s probably why this song was picked up as a lead single from the album. It’s grandiose thanks to the huge walls of sounds built from the ground up by the symphonic backbone, Devin’s impeccable singing and a top-level execution by the band. “Secret Sciences” (un)surprisingly makes a turn towards more atmospheric approach developed, once again, around orchestration, and that turns to be the main approach Devin and the band were going for in the writing process of the album.
The strongest point I feel on this record is that of a vocal one — this is odd for me to say, as Devin Townsend Project has always been about its massively entwined structures, but it’s a safe bet that ‘Transcendence’ is the project’s catchiest recording in their career, although Devin stands for one of the best and most diverse vocalists in the world of progressive metal and beyond. Songs like “Higher,” “Stars” and “Offer Your Light” are all incredibly catchy numbers that should appeal greatly to modern rock and heavy metal fans alike. Anyway, I think that fans of progressive metal will flock to this one far more than those who prefer heavier extremes, even though I can say in no uncertain terms that this record as a whole is quite extreme regarding the amount of passion, precision and performance utilized with it. It’s definitely the kind of record that people will be talking about in either a positive or negative viewpoint, and I think that’s the best thing for the band right now.
One cannot say where Devin Townsend Project goes after this, but I can assure you that there is more than enough material to chew on and the majority of Townsend fans should be pleased. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to get “Failure” out of my head… This is music without boundaries, without barricades and without limits.