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The rain will always be. - 100%

TheMeh, August 18th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1997, CD, HevyDevy Records

I find it difficult to put certain music to words. Most of the time, I see myself able to describe full albums with relative ease to friends... perhaps even full artists within an hour's time, if I'm lucky. Hell, I've written enough reviews that encapsulate all the exact and perfect thoughts I have about these sorts of things! That being said... not a single artist has had more transgressions with me than Devin Townsend. This man's been making music for just about thirty years, and you'd think by now that it'd be easier to put all that to simple words. It is - hence why I'm reviewing his full discography in the first place. But there are certain albums that are simply harder to understand, harder to decipher with eccentricity. There are none in my mind more difficult - but perhaps, more deserving of it - than Ocean Machine: Biomech.

This album, at the time, was much different to anything Devin had ever released. Previously, and most recently to this album, Devin had released "City" with Strapping Young Lad, and some may argue that to be one of the angriest releases to come from the band's discography overall. Compared, however, Ocean Machine is a much more mellow project, almost perhaps a foray into that of progressive rock, if you were willing to go that far by definition. The course the album wanted to take you on ended up being of a more retrospective, somber path, and thus becomes a more... "emotive" experience, by proxy. Such a way of building the music works wonders, and I feel that the album benefits in many areas from this. Most of the lyrics tend to lend a rather well-placed hand to the songs, and almost create their own mood throughout their own singular resonating impacts. With songs like "Funeral" and "The Death of Music", you can almost feel what Devin wants you to feel from those words - the way he says "it's just a spring clean for the may queen", or "the rain will come, the rain will always be", the pure passion and power that shimmers through them - and it just... acquiesces. It becomes a lot bigger than it initially was when you started to listen, and... somehow, you can just feel that. It's... almost weird.

Coming from that, the music itself is... rather broadened, if not almost experimental, by proxy. As normal as it starts, it progressively becomes more indicative how intimate and different Devin really wanted to make this album, with songs like "Sister" and "3 A.M." resembling something of a purely ambient tone. This kind of tone almost becomes a focal point for the album to lean upon, but not in a way that feels dependent on it. Notwithstanding where the album chooses to build itself with more of a melody, or pace, either. Each song feels like it takes its time to build, never stopping from distraction, and never veering from a path. To that, it builds, and does so in a way that makes each song feel... important, or made an impact, as if you had just finished a good book and can feel that freshness of knowing how satisfying its end was. In a way, that could describe all of Ocean Machine, if you wanted to look at it as so.

I really wish I had more words I could use to describe this album. I really, really do. The fact that I seem to lack enough feels like enough of a disservice as is. But, truly, what more is there left that I could say? Ocean Machine stands as a relic of its time, and a shining example of what happens when an artist wholeheartedly cares about the message of his product, or the core value of producing said product in the first place. This is the type of album that convinces me that Devin Townsend truly cares for his music... and such a thought stands as the type of thing that ends up making me come back, again and again.

I can't think of many other albums out there that are more deserving of my first 100% than this. If you want to look back into Devin's older discography, or wish to see what worth his other projects have held, you should start here. It is completely and entirely worth your time.

BEST TRACKS: "Life", "Regulator", "Funeral", "The Death of Music", "Things Beyond Things".

Simply the best album I have ever heard. - 100%

ConnorF, November 10th, 2011

This was the first I'd ever heard of Devin Townsend, and it's perhaps because of this album that I've become such a huge fan of his. It remains my favourite album ever recorded, and I have given it a 100% rating because I cannot think of a single way it could possibly be better.

The very first thing we hear is a twenty-second quote from the poet Tennyson, before the monstrous opening riff to Seventh Wave kicks in. The quote is from Tennyson's poem "In Memoriam", and there are references to the sea, perhaps the biggest underlying theme of the whole album. The quote is read in an echoey, synthesized voice that sounds slightly mournful, while also sounding rather amusingly "1997" in technological terms - voice synthesis tech has obviously come a long way since the album's release. The quote itself is quite apt and provides a nice little introduction before the huge riff that starts the first track, Seventh Wave, is awoken.

Seventh Wave is a solid track to start the album with, starting with the aforementioned riff and a ponderous half-speed drum rhythm which builds up into an insistent, driving pulse. The track is quite heavy by the standards of this album, but nowhere near the kind of extremity that Devin was exploring with his other band, Strapping Young Lad, at the time. From Seventh Wave we are led into Life, easily the catchiest and most easily accessible track on the album. And when I say catchy, I mean REALLY catchy. It sounds like a potential radio hit, and it surely would have been if there was any justice in the world. It also plays host to one of Devin's only solos on the whole album, a short but sweet melodic piece which ends with an ascending run that is Devin's only real "show-off" guitar moment on Biomech... one of relatively few in his entire discography, in fact.

While we're here, I should probably examine the musicianship on the album in a bit more detail. The drums are pretty solid, while never being too flashy. However, the drum sound is something quite different - they sound almost synthesized, and are drenched in reverb. It also sounds like Marty Chapman was having an irritating day when the drums were recorded - he beats the crap out of them. JR Harder's bass playing is very solid too, but it's often hard to tell because it's not very loud at all. When it can be heard (the verses on Life, for example) it's just chugging along with the root notes and not doing anything too special, but this album isn't about showing off the chops of the men making it so I'm not overly bothered by that. The bass tone is really good as well, quite obviously picked and using a fair amount of distortion that makes it sound a lot grimier, and that adds to the texture as a whole.

Devin's guitar playing, as always, is superb. He isn't a shredder by conventional means, and is firmly against the whole "wanky-wank-wank" shred scene, but he can certainly do it. And his use of open C tuning means that he comes up with some amazingly original riffs that wouldn't come at all naturally on a standard-tuned guitar. Solos on the album are few and far between but when they're there, they're good. Devin also, as always, provided some killer vocals to go with the rest of the music. He rarely ever uses an out-and-out scream when delivering vocals here, but instead sticks to his trademark half-sung, half-screamed rasp and, more often than not, a softer conventional singing voice. This album came fairly early in his career and his voice was nowhere near as developed overall as it is now, but if he was good enough to sing for Steve Vai at the age of 17, he's more than good enough to sing for the rest of us. And don't mistake "less developed overall as it is now" for "bad", not at any cost. Because the vocals on this album are always good, and sometimes flat-out astounding. And Devin, of course, produced Biomech with his well-known "reverb up to 11" style that really suits this album down to the ground.

In the middle of the album come two short interludes, Sister followed by 3 AM. The former is rather livelier and leads directly in from the previous track, the galloping and uplifting Hide Nowhere. Sister features some acoustic strumming and a cacophony of ambient sound clips looping away in the background. The lyrics don't have much to them - it's just the one word "Sister" repeated over and over again, with some other unintelligible words forming an extra melodic phrase. The track finishes with the fading-out acoustic guitar and a gigantic crack of thunder, after which the quieter, more introspective 3 AM begins. There's a brief lyrical section from Devin, followed by a beautiful chord progression played softly on a keyboard. Then, as soon as the listener gets used to the track, it crashes into Voices in the Fan.

The heaviest track on the album, by far, is the ninth track, Regulator. Featuring some of Devin's only "true" screaming on the whole album, as well as an opening riff that could knock down a building, it's the only track that could almost be substituted to one of Devin's SYL albums without being too out of place. However, this track pales into insignificance alongside Biomech's (and in fact Ocean Machine's) closing salvo...

Funeral opens with some unusual panned delay parts from the guitar, which seem to overlap and create a pretty cool atmosphere, before the drums crash in and a series of delayed, distorted guitars come in, sweeping around each other and adding layers and layers of moody, mournful texture. This was the first Devin Townsend track I ever heard, and it's still one of my favourites of his. Devin's vocals here are some of the most impassioned I've ever heard. In the middle section much of the guitar texture fades away and we are left with just the drums, bass, fading background vocals, and the sound of seagulls, before Devin begins singing again and the texture builds up almost imperceptibly before reaching a climactic finale. From the end of Funeral, the start of the next track, Bastard, fades straight in.

As a side note, I always like to listen to the last four tracks on the album (from Funeral through to Things Beyond Things) as one long piece, because they all flow into each other and complement each other perfectly.

Bastard is noticeably darker than Funeral, which despite its gloomy title isn't actually that depressing - in fact, towards the end it has quite the opposite effect. Bastard, however, is dark, and gloomy at first. It has a lurching, moaning riff that drags along seemingly against its will - one of the heaviest riffs on the album. Devin's lyrics are rather bleak too, painting a picture of grey futility and depression, of being trapped in a lonely, miserable city that saps the life and joy of everyone there. Then, around six minutes into the ten minutes Bastard lasts, it all changes... the tempo goes into double-time (seeming to speed up) and guitar melodies build up in layers, before a great heaving riff lurches up and takes the music somewhere different... not somewhere happy, because this is never a happy song, but somewhere hopeful. It sounds like a light at the end of the tunnel that was the first section of the song. The chord progression shifts into something altogether less mournful, and the newfound energy in the drumming brings a climactic explosion of joy to the song, before the next section of the song comes in. The lyrics in this section are altogether more poetic, but still quite bleak. This epic of a song dies away after ten minutes and seventeen seconds, seguing straight into The Death of Music.

This track, the official end of the album, is something of a break from the rest of the disc, not featuring any guitar, bass or drums throughout. The rhythm is provided by a soft electronic pulse, and there's a barely audible sub-bass frequency being synthesized in there as well. There's an abundance of random sound clips through the whole song, seemingly not chosen for their relevance to the lyrical themes of the track while still somehow managing to add to it. Then Devin's first whispered verse comes in, a rather ominous-sounding diatribe that is quite hard to make out, and harder still to penetrate for a meaning. These whispered or spoken verses are featured a few times in the song, including one very powerful passage about the end of the world, almost Biblical in its written style and prophetic undertone. There are sung verses as well, broadly the same lyrics each time but sung with increasing force and intensity, with more background ambience each time to add more to the texture. After a lengthy bridge/build-up section the third verse comes in, almost screamed with true, raw emotion, rendered even more powerful by the lyrics, which explore being totally alone, against the world and everyone else who has betrayed the writer. Then, the final chorus hits you like a tonne of bricks, before building up into a towering crescendo that you wish would continue forever. It sounds like not only the Death of Music, but the death of the entire world. It sounds like a musical apocalypse, but a strangely beautiful one. Then, with the sense of humour that Devin has become famous for, there's an ending spoken-word monologue over the beat, a quiet, lo-fi sound clip of Devin talking to someone about what sounds like a Japanese city - it has no real relevance to the song, it's just something Devin must have decided was cool to stick on the end.

Just when you think it's all over, some mournful clean guitar chords strike up out of nothing and take us into Things Beyond Things, the "hidden" final track on the album. It's a rather plaintive song, with lyrics about loss and depression, although the song is actually not too depressing itself. It has a fairly sparse texture, which is unusual for Devin, but it actually makes the song more effective. It sounds slightly more intimate, more human. It's also one of the only other times the bass guitar is particularly audible, and is going beyond the root notes a bit more. There are some nice little fills here and there, and it actually makes a real contribution to the texture of the song. The song is like nothing else on the album, but is still very enjoyable in its own way. It's quite relaxing, with some beautiful jangling guitar lines in the chorus. Then, in another flash of cruel humour, Devin blows the calm mood of the track with a gigantic ten-second scream after the song has died away. It sounds like Devin screamed his lungs out and then pitch-shifted it. If you thought the scream near the start of Oh My Fucking God by SYL was bad, you need to hear this. It's certainly an odd way to finish an album like this, but since when has Devin been predictable?

This album is a work of towering majesty. It might sound like butt-kissing fanboyism from me, but it's true. It's an epic work that might take you a few listens to get into, but it's worth every second of your time. In my humble opinion, there has never been a more perfect album than this.

An Auspicious Start - 92%

Djol, May 27th, 2010

This entry inaugurates my run through all the major releases of Devin Townsend’s solo career discography (though I am absenting myself from reviewing both Devlab and The Hummer, Townsend’s two completely ambient/drone releases). Devin Townsend has long been one of the hardest working men in heavy metal, and absolutely one of the most talented, rating extremely highly in the categories of guitar playing, songwriting, singing, screaming, and producing; the fact that this, his first solo album (originally released under the name Ocean Machine with the album title Biomech), is so excellent is magnified approximately one million-fold when you stop to remember that 1997 was also the year in which Strapping Young Lad (Devin’s “proper” band, though now defunct) released their skullcrushing (and never topped, by themselves or any one else in industrial-tinged heavy fucking metal) beast of a sophomore album, City. Dude’s pretty busy, I guess is what I’m saying.

As I already mentioned, although this eventually saw a reissue under Devin’s own name, it was originally released under the band name Ocean Machine. This wouldn’t really matter much, except that the album actually sounds relatively different from most of Townsend’s other solo (or should we say solo-ish?) works. To be fair, the differences are slight – it’s not like you’d throw this on and mistake it for Dream Theater, Malevolent Creation, or John Coltrane – but I think it’s still worth noting. To my ears, the two biggest differences between Ocean Machine – Biomech and Devy’s other solo stuff are the songwriting and the placement of his vocals. Though it doesn’t follow this outline perfectly, I’m going to suggest as a tentative argument that his solo works became gradually more intricate and complex over time, so that by the time we get to Synchestra, we’re hit with banjo breakdowns and tuba-led polka interludes. Following this notion, then, it stands to reason that Ocean Machine – Biomech is among the simpler of Devin’s solo recordings; I will say that this is true, but that I don’t mean that by way of criticism. This is, quite frankly, a tremendous album, and which I only hesitate to call astounding because it is exceeded in brilliance by a few of Townsend’s later solo albums (full discographic reviews to follow).

Much of this album is, as I’ve already suggested, relatively simple or straight-forward in comparison to later works; many of the songs (particularly from the album’s first two-thirds or so) are based around melodic yet rhythmic riff-figures (I wouldn’t quite call them “riffs,” per se) which are subsequently swathed in backing synths and multi-tracked choral vocals (most of which are provided by Devin himself). One of the reasons this album stands apart from others by (or including) Townsend is that his vocals seem somewhat less upfront in the mix; they are still central, of course, but they blend in a bit more with the overall tone of the instrumentation than in other albums. This tactic works extremely well in the context of this batch of songs, but because Devin’s vocals are one of the major attractions for me, I can’t help but prefer other albums in which the vocals are more centrally highlighted.

Of course it is a hopeless cliche when reviewing albums, but it really is true that the whole of Ocean Machine is much greater than the sum of its individual songs. The effect that this music has, I would say, is less to impress with virtuosity or produce particular standout songs, and more to induce a particular mood of overwhelming calmness. I know it seems counter-intuitive, because this IS a heavy metal album after all, but I think the overall tonal effect, which is furthermore amplified by the songwriting, is to induce a relatively sedate, nearly meditative state in the listener. Because this is the case, I don’t feel that there are any tracks on here which absolutely jump out at the listener more than any others, although there are certainly moments that stand out. I love the massively reverbed bass drum that carries the intro of album opener “Seventh Wave,” for example, and I particularly enjoy the overlapping of live drumming and programmed percussion on “Voices in the Fan,” which also features an outro featuring a choral chamber quartet singing what sounds like either sacred vespers or leftovers from some of Therion’s more recent studio shenanigans (Secret of the Runes – Lemuria/Sirius B, particularly).

The second track, “Life,” is a bit too bouncy, almost veering into a pop mawkishness, but this slight misstep soon fades from memory, given that the album’s first four tracks seem to function as a suite, each flowing smoothly into the next, and only really seeing closure with “Sister,” which surrounds its acoustic guitar in noisy harmonics and digital chatter. In terms of notable songs, “Greetings” is really the first place to finally feature some truly epic, grandiose riffing and stirring chord progressions. Think of these progressions as the polar opposite of the equally-stirring minor tri-tone riff which opens “Black Sabbath” (from Black Sabbath, by Black Sabbath – gotta love it); maybe these chords are Devin’s attempt to stretch back a helping hand to Ozzy in 1970, rescuing him from existential dread (“Oh no, no, please God help me!”). “Regulator” is probably the heaviest song here, but it stays pretty midpaced throughout, and Devin’s highest-pitched screams are fairly muted in the overall texture of the piece.

I wouldn’t quite call this a concept album, but it definitely maintains some continuities throughout, both in the frequent use of samples and narration which hover just under the noise at the start and end of several tracks, as well (and especially) in the overall tonality. It is, of course, another cliche to describe music in visual terms, but the fact that this album was originally recorded under the name Ocean Machine is no accident – the riffs employed, and the actual texture and wide-screen mixing of the guitar tone seem to mimic the rhythm and structure of waves and tides, and to evoke an extremely oceanic mood. Sampling some actual waves and seagulls towards the end of “Funeral” doesn’t hurt this case, of course, but even penultimate (on the reissue, at least) track “The Death of Music,” which eschews metallic elements altogether, is for me extremely evocative of flight across the vast expanse of the sea. Devin’s vocals begin with whispers and eventually gain in strength as the clear synth tones swell beneath him; by around the ten-minute mark, his clear wailing seems to channel his inner Bono, but honestly, I kept being reminded of Moby’s track “God Moving Across the Face of the Waters.” The songs sound very little alike, but they both produced similar imagined landscapes for me.

If you’re looking to this album for individual songs, you will of course prefer the first one-half to two-thirds of the album (all the way up to “Regulator”). Without meaning to downplay the strength of many of those songs, I actually prefer the second half of the album, and especially the eighteen-minute stretch of “Funeral” and “Bastard.” Each song has its own notable components, but work in tandem to produce in a seemingly more intentional fashion the sort of meditative suspension and tonal calm that I have been arguing the album as a whole creates. The bonus track, “Things Beyond Things” could be removed without damaging the whole, although I do think the instrumental opening of the track is a nice release from the somewhat anticlimactic ending of “The Death of Music,” which would be fine if it had restricted itself to just fading out with the soft, programmed percussion and spare sound effects (which were, actually, somewhat reminiscent of early 1990s ambient/IDM such as The Orb, or especially The Future Sound of London’s excellent Lifeforms album); instead, we get some more dialogue (which may be idle band chatter, or may be sampled from somewhere, I couldn’t quite tell) about a driving range on the sea or some such nonsense. Kind of killed the mood for me at the end (speaking of which, the very end of the bonus track is not so quiet as it might seem as it fades out – goes to show that Devin maintains a healthy sense of humor even in this, which seems in many ways to be one of his more serious and straightforward solo endeavors).

Bottom line: Much of this review has probably sounded like damning with faint praise, which is really only the case because I think Devin’s later solo works got even better. On its own terms, though, this is a very strong progressive/heavy metal record, and manages the quite impressive feat of being both busy and simple, complex and contemplative, heavy metal and (arguably) ambient. This is hardly the first, and will definitely not be the last time I say this: Devin Townsend is my favorite musician in heavy metal, and you could do a lot worse for yourself than buying up every last damn thing he has done.

Overall rating: 92% (I was originally pegging it as an 85% or so, but listening again to those chord progressions in “Greetings” and “Funeral” [especially just after the "Jesus was a poor boy" lines] sends beautiful fucking chills down the spine.)

(Note: Originally posted at http://spinaltapdance.wordpress.com/)

Records To Hear Before You Die. - 100%

Perplexed_Sjel, May 25th, 2009

Considering the amount of Devin Townsend projects, it comes as no surprise that some people mistake which band is which and what full-lengths come under which particular project name. What makes it worse is the fact that Devin, the maniacal originator of half of these bands, likes to insert his name into the titles of two of these bands, making it difficult to know which project we‘re assessing unless one pays particular attention. I myself have had some trouble distinguishing between the bands as their sounds tend to change drastically from record to record. Take the project known as The Devin Townsend Band, for example. ‘Accelerated Evolution’ is a juxtaposed idea in relation to ‘Synchestra’, so confusion is a part of daily life when dealing with this band and this man who, adhering to my initial beliefs about progressive music in general, likes to spread his name and his influence across the music he contributes to in a way that could possibly be deemed as rather arrogant, egotistical or even pretentious. However, these beliefs could all come undone if he were to give a sterling performance that shook the listener to the core on a personal level, moving us emotionally to the utmost, causing a U-turn in our opinions of what it means to be pretentious within a world that requires experimentation to live like we need air to live (hopefully highlighting the essential nature of experimentation within this eclectic and surreal world of music).

Musicians who can showcase their abilities to the extreme with technical prowess that tears them apart from the inner circles of mediocrity are necessities and therefore, it isn’t so strange that Devin proceeds to make himself the center of the universe when it comes to his multiple projects, despite the fact that other musicians contribute to the overall product and deserve credit themselves. After all, his position within the band is as sole creator. So, in essence, he is playing God. He controls the outlets, he makes the music. Given these facts, which are obviously portrayed by Devin himself by plastering his name everywhere like some form of political propaganda, it strikes me as normal that he should wish to receive the chunk of the plaudits that come with being assessed and analysed in depth. He even went as far as renaming the record on re-release just so his name could visibly be seen on the cover. Progressive metal has always been a genre, in my mind, that exhibited the most amount of arrogance between musicians. Perhaps alongside the twinkling presence of power metal, these two genres have stood side-by-side in forming this opinion that made the genres instantly disagreeable from afar. In my youth I experienced some trouble with accepting experimentation as an integral part of the music world. I loved the subtleties of black metal and in my elitist utopia and felt threatened by the presence of experimentation within the music I listened to.

It was almost as if I had the presence of death stalking me from the shadows of the dark city I used to inhabit and in this formation of beliefs, I became accustomed to thinking experimentation was as useful as a penis is to a lesbian. Certainly not in all cases, but the majority seem to acquire the desireable personality traits of maturity and wisdom as they experience life through the years, well into their 20’s and beyond. Though I still consider myself to be relatively young, I can see myself growing into a person who’s level of acceptance and understanding is growing towards things he once saw as a threat to his individuality. Youth often obscures our vision with naivety that makes our feelings, opinions and thoughts inconsistent so, thankfully, this era of my life is passing by with a whimper and not the aggression it once had. I’m beginning to see things for how they truly are and this is where Devin’s project Ocean Machine come into it with their aquatic and oceanic themes that spread as far as the eye can see like an ocean of immense emotions. As we sink into mire that scarcely resembles the ocean at first, Devin and the other members of Ocean Machine, begin to narrate the aspects of life that make it worth living for, and worth dying for. This record progresses like the stages of life, through adolescence to adulthood and then, eventually, culminating in songs like ‘Funeral’ and ‘Thing Beyond Things’ which exemplify connotations of the afterlife that is marred with all the insecurities that make up the foundations of human life in the mortal world.

There are people who claim to dislike Devin and his music purely because of his reputation as a much loved music genius. With bands like Strapping Young Lad exalting his to greatness, I myself turned my back on him for a long, long time. I had ‘Accelerated Evolution’ for years and even liked it in my misguided youth, but neglected it after the age of 16 until this year, at the age of 22 when I stumbled across it again whilst moving houses. I dug it out, blew away the cobwebs and decided it was worth a shot since I was going through a funk at the time. Nostalgia and memories of the past flooded back to me in vivid detail. I understood why Devin was held in high esteem for the first time in a long time, too long. His reputation often proceeds him and is a turn-off to a number of people who follow metal, mainstream or otherwise. There is something intimidating about listening to a record you know is heralded as one of the greatest in its field and that is precisely how I felt when first listening to ‘Biomech’, which is, unfortunately, the only full-length record to ever be created by Ocean Machine before Devin started focusing solely on his solo projects. In life, there are only a select few who are worthy of the recognition they receive. With numerous bands receiving the unappealing “fan boy” treatment, it becomes difficult to distinguish what is, and what isn’t a classic. Believe me when I say this, THIS is a classic! No hyperbole intended.

This isn’t just music, this is life explained in detail to those who have only gotten so far. The record has a gravitational pull as strong as the Earth’s, keeping us firmly rooted to the inner workings of the instrumentation as the experimentation fluctuates between repetition and variety. The strongest elements are all expected, adding a hint of cliché to the appeal, but when the material is good, what does it matter? The guitars, the keyboards (which have becoming integral to progressive over recent years) and the vocals, which includes backing vocals, all surface as the leading traits for this records supreme style that oozes a sense of class that most other records envy with green eyes. Again, the idea of pretension begins to seep back into my thoughts as I expect a select few to hate this record given its God-like view. Devin seems to believe his tale of life is universal, and some of it is. Songs like ‘Funeral’ are perfectly acceptable when thinking about universal songs. It displays vivid illustrations of what it is like to be in the company of death, to deal with the extended grief that death brings to a family and its friends. Not only are songs like this a reflection of the typically brilliant lyrical content, but they also acts as fine examples of how terrific the instrumentation can be.

A big part of the conception of this record, of course, comes from Devin’s intellectual mind and whilst some may refer to him as a pseudo-intellectual, his concepts do precisely what they intend to do -- cause mass debate. His music not only serves an enjoyable factor, but it has conceptual themes that make us truly think, a part of music which is sorely missed in my world of repetitive and simplistic black metal. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy these styles of music, but there comes a time when one must challenge themselves with something life affirming and this is it, ‘Biomech’. As well as this, the content makes it easy for the listener to relate to the material on a purely personal level, highlighting areas of their own life that they’ve gone through, are going through and that they will be going through in due course. The accessibility of this record is probably the highest I’ve seen on any record. Make no mistake, this is about your life and the inner works of your mind. With smart lexical fields and the use of words like “you” and “we” repeatedly, its almost as if Devin is singing directly to us with his strongest vocal performance to date (based on what I’ve heard from him).

Above all this, there is a really soulful vibe presented even in the short songs like ‘3 AM’ with its weary tale that exudes emotion in Devin’s voice that brings a tear to the eye as he lays his heart on the line like a lovelorn teenager professing his undying feelings towards a girl who does not even know he exists. The contrast of happy and sad emotions isn’t the first time we experience juxtaposition during the record. From ‘3 AM’ and the nostalgic ‘Voices in the Fen’ to the jovial ‘Life’ and ‘Night’. The record, once again, suggests a theme of a universal nature, expressing the optimism of youth in the quirky soundscapes at the beginning of the record and then slowly descending into pessimism with the residual tides of the oceanic soundscapes that slowly, but forcefully portray themselves in songs like ‘Bastard’ with its mesmerising use of keyboards and complimenting guitars. As an end note, I cannot say strongly enough how epic this record is. It is the epitome of progressive and despite some issues with egocentrism, it exudes everything you’d ever want to hear in a progressive piece. Not only this, but it stretches beyond its boundaries with music that cannot be contained in its small field. Whatever you do or don’t do with your life, make sure you hear this record before you die.

Devin's best and a monumental album - 100%

RoivasUGO, December 6th, 2006

Devin, being a workaholic with an imressive musical career, is best known for his insane arrangements, his diverse but uniqure style and his overall madness. But as everyone, he had to start somewhere, and basically Ocean Machine is where the Devin Townsend band started off. Though he often got close (Terria anyone?), Devin never managed to reach the heights he got to in this debute. Maybe he should giver it another try to shoot for the moon as he did here.

The feel of the album is indeed, as the band name suggests, like a flowing ocean, rolling waves of sound passing by in tranquillity with an occasional gust blowing the foam up high. The latter, stormy feel comes mainly from the first four tracks, and Regulator, of which the best is Hide Nowhere with a chorus so powerful it shatters your skull. Devin goes into a rampage and bellows "HIIIDE! HIDE NOWHERE!" The songs are catchy but never fail to keep a style entirely of its own, something not many bands can say.

The tranquillity first kicks in with Sister and 3 AM, but it's perfected with The Death of Music and the subsequent album closer, Things Beyond Things. Death is the most atmospheric song of the album and never fails to send chill down my spine as Devin fits syncs and vocals together as he softly sings, "It's like a death becomes musical". There's many vocal clips mixed in the background, and ends with a long, hardly audible and kind of odd conversation with the electronic beat softly kicking over it.

Things Beyond Things, however, is even better, and starts off with some of my all-time favorite lyrics, about old dreams and the pain of them not coming true. It ends with a wake up call from Devin with an inhuman shriek that is sure to get you startled the first time you hear it.

This album is a monumental masterpiece. Sadly it can't be said to 'mark a change in the history of music' because of it was no commercial hit. However, it IS a milestone in musical artistry, in originality and emotion. One by one Biomech touches every emotional string in the human body until the album ends, leaving the listener with a feeling of being complete and numbed with beauty. Everyone should listen to this album at least once. This album is what marks the difference between beat and melody on one hand, and music as a whole.

Why hasn't this sold a million copies? - 95%

caspian, September 16th, 2006

Even though I've never listened to Devin TOwnsend's stuff before, I never really liked him. That was mainly because Devin fanboys are almost as annoying as Tool fanboys, so for the sake of annoying said fanboys I didn't like him. (Lame, I know.) HAving finally caved in to curiousity though, I bought this album, and I wish I'd bought it earlier.

This album does something not too many bands can.. that is, make an album that conforms (for the most part) to the usual song structure, to the usual western music conventions, and yet is totally unique as a piece of music. I've never heard anyone that sounds remotely like this. Still, it's very accessible. Life could/should have been a number one single. It's uplifting, atmospheric and very melodic, with some super cool lead lines. Sister is a tranquil and intoxicating mix of synths and acoustic, creating a very oceanic kind of thing, which moves into 3 AM, which, as another reviewer said, really describes the soothing, calming, tranquil kind of atmosphere you get late at night. Regulator is fairly bleak for this record, but it's a great song, with some pretty cool vocals, some good synths, and just a feeling of desperation permeating throughout the whole song.

Of course, after this point, we move away from the more normal songs, with the next three songs taking up about 30 minutes. Luckily they're all done good. Funeral, despite the name, isn't all that depressing. Clean guitars quickly change into distorted, spaced out guitars, and it's fairly awesome. Vocals come and go, and the guitars slowly build and come back down. The constant 8th note beat does get a bit annoying, I guess, but overall it's a fantastic tune that slowly overwhelms you. Eventually, it breaks down to just drums, before coming back for a glorious finale. This song flows into Bastard, which is full of fairly similar ideas to Funeral, but it's a little bit darker. The guitars and great use of synths and vocals are again overwhelming, and this song is super powerful. It's a draining, exhausting bit of music. It's not something you'd listen to every day, but when you're in a crappy mood, this song will fit you perfectly. The ending is awesome, with massive waves of guitars and vocals washing over you. The Death of music is a great tune too- It will need a few listens to sink in, but the slow electronic drums and sound FX grow on you more and more. Devin's vocals are so emotional, and when it fits with the synths, it's incredible. Definetly one of the best songs ever written.

In the end, is a great record, with everything in it's perfect place. The vocals are done really well, and the guitars and synths fit in perfectly. The rythym section is hardly noticed, just keeping the beat. (WHich I think is the point.) Highly recommended for fans of mind-expanding music.

Gone Fishin' - 96%

Bash, September 10th, 2006

When a reasonably original band reaches a certain level of fame and publicity it doesn’t take long for it to gather a following of imitators and copycats. It seems like a natural cause of action, like swarms of smaller fish following the big ones, feeding off of the giants’ scraps. Like so do the followers try to feed off of the same fanbase and travel routes already paved for them in the music scene. This is not the case with Devin Townsend. I have never heard anyone even begin to try to explore the same musical land(or water-)scapes as he does. The Ocean Machine project is a perfect example of why this is the case. While many other Progressive Metal bands tend to focus on technicality, Townsend uses industrial elements and layering to create soundscapes that rely on atmosphere. Listening to a Townsend record may not always give you those “Wow, what a cool riff” -sensations, but they will sure as hell take you to a whole different place, and that is something you cannot imitate without having the talent and most of all the vision to back it up. Trying to achieve the same ends as his work will only result in something that comes out hollow, emotionless and bastardized, like a used-up prostitute. This is why Devin Townsend suffers no hangers-on, and will always remain in a league of his own.

Listening to Biomech is like coming home to a warm, peaceful place that allows one to relax and leave behind the anxieties and adversities of day to day life. Not as much a corporeal location as a place in the consciousness existing only for introspection and understanding of oneself. Not coincidentally, this serves as the polar opposite of the themes Strapping Young Lad’s City album deals with; vast, suffocating concrete wastelands of urban angst and misantrophy. These two albums serve as siblings, much like his recent efforts, Alien and Synchestra, do. Humans are the Ocean Machines, seeking refuge in the only place that they can truly claim their own: what lies in their mind; an ocean of serenity. Though the atmosphere keeps pretty much the same throughout the album, the way it presents itself is always changing. Sometimes it’s calm, clean and blue, the sky is clear and life is all smooth sailing, like for example in the uplifting Life, and sometimes the winds are strong and the sea is restless, like in Regulator. This album totally engulfs you and lets you be taken by the currents to whatever destination it chooses. Biomech is, apart from Devin Townsend’s vocals, nothing technically astounding. Of course this can also be thought of us a good thing, as many Progressive Metal bands result to empty wankery and pointlessly drawn out song structures. The aforementioned atmosphere is the leading motif for Townsend, leaving none of the bullshit and all of the awe-inspiring musical genii.

This album can be easily put in three distinctive three parts, the first one being the straightforward (though I do use the term loosely here) rockers, including the tracks one through four: Seventh Wave, Life, Night and Hide Nowhere. The album kicks off with an oddly distorted, placid spoken part quoting the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, perfectly setting the mood for what is to follow. Seventh Wave gives you some deep, heavy, wave-like riffs that immediately remind you of the crushing power of the sea. The song gives out a sense of tranquillity though, like it’s sure of its age-old power and feels no need to showcase it any further than merely hinting towards it. “You’re never alone, even when you’re alone… watch the ocean”. This song is just perfect from start to finish. The second part (Sister, 3 A.M, Voices In The Fan, Greetings, Regulator) consists of the more ethereal material. It also shows the first flaws on the record. The two interludes, Sister and 3 A.M, in a row get a little tedious. They aren’t bad tracks, it’s just at least one of them is pretty much obsolete. Voices In The Fan, even though only 5 minutes long, is also a little drawn out. I fail to get much out of the choir part in the end. These are all small things though and don’t change the fact that apart from their minor shortcomings all these songs are pure gold. Especially Regulator, with its heavy riffing and Devin’s ballsy half-scream that is guaranteed to send chills down your spine.

The three monoliths, Funeral, Bastard and The Death of Music clocking in at 8, 10 and 12 minutes respectively, form the final part of Biomech. They’re all peaceful, meandering songs progressing without hurry. Bastard is the only song on the entire album that shows any signs of bleakness. Devin sounds like he’s struggling to get his voice heard from under the majestic repetitive riff playing throughout the song. It radiates regret and desperation: “Same thing, every time, they always seem to need what I’m not. To all the hopeful ones: nobody gives a fuck what you’ve got”. The protagonist, be it Devin, the listener or whoever you want it to be, is now dealing with the bad things in his life instead of hiding from them in this blue dream. This song has become one of the definite Devin Townsend classics, and rightfully so. The last, song, however is the real winner here. The Death Of Music can’t really be classed as metal, it consists of nothing but electronic percussion that doesn’t change thorough the song, accompanied by some random sounds of life somewhere deep in the background and with the vocals on top, with some ethereal keyboards emerging from out of nowhere to back them up when needed. Despite the degree of minimalism that is expressed musically, there is more content in this song than in many bands’ careers. The Death of Music is above all sad, yet strangely beautiful. Devin’s vocals are practically dripping with emotion. Not many people would have dared to even try to make a song like The Death of Music, let alone succeed so magnificently, and for that I applaud him. This song is among my favourite songs of all time.

This album undoubtedly holds many different meanings for many different people and I wouldn’t dream to claim to have the one true answer. All I know is this album has altered my view on music since the first time I heard it. Not many artists could ever make me succumb into fanboyism, but Devin Townsend has undeniably done that, and how could I even resist something as mind-numbingly fantastic as what he’s been releasing for years now? I shan’t even attempt at doing so, instead I’ll fully indulge in the serenity of the masterpiece that is Ocean Machine-Biomech.

The death of music (as we know it) - 100%

Mayday, August 22nd, 2006

"O earth, what changes hast thou seen?" A calm voice starts reciting a small fragment from a poem for a couple of seconds, just to be interrupted by a rather strange and distant sounding guitar riff. "This is different", you think from the first moment, but can it change anything? I believe it can. It certainly did change the way at how I look at music and has expanded the range of feelings perceived through music, beyond any belief.

For first time listeners of Devin Townsends solo efforts, this record may be confusing and irritating. The sound, the melodies, the song structure and most important, the general feel of the music - everything is different than anything else you've heard before. The main theme of this album is the ocean and the album itself is really as deep as the ocean in terms of intensity and power of the music, and as endlessly wide, in terms of musical variability. It is an album which has to be listened with care and with an open mind. It's as if you'd be sitting next to the ocean and trying to distill it into musical form and absorb it. All of it. It won't go so easily. It's huge, deep, endless...and there's a lot of things swimming in it. This is exactly what this album is all about - to absorb all of it, just to be able to enjoy all of the endless joys it brings and look (in the case of the album listen) at all the details swimming in the sea of layers and layers of sound.

The album itself starts off pretty rocking and straightforward with the thrashy, yet wonderfully melodic and majestic "Seventh wave", right into "Life", which is a wonderful, uplifting song about life itself and in a world, where artistic expression would be considered more important than prefabricated mediocrity, it would have been a #1 hit. The next song, "Night" is a very uptempo, rocking song with lots of great vocal work, melodies and one of the catchiest (in a good way!) choruses ever. "Hide nowhere" slows things down a little bit with some of the most surprising rhymes and a very weird, yet perfect chorus, leading into two shorter interludes called "Sister" (which evokes the splashing of waves on a nice seashore) and "3AM". while Sister portrais the ocean by day, 3AM, shows, how it is like at night. calm. soothing. relaxed.

Next is "Voices in the fan" and the whole ride continues, but more relaxed, and laid back, than in the first four songs. gradually and unnoticed, the whole journey gets darker and more epic. The wonderful peaceful choirs at the end of the song lead us into the next piece, called "Greetings" which begins with a little guitar solo, which once again shows us how different and yet brilliant Devins approach to music is.

Beware, because it is going to become more and more epic from this point on. The first track of what is often referred to as a "trilogy" starts with "Regulator", a track which showcases the ocean in a harsher way, with heavy riffing in and half-screamed vocals over the top of all the layers of sound. It manages to be chaotic and clear at the same time. Devins voice strikes like lightning through all the sonic waves and it's beautiful. It's really one of Devins best vocal performances, where his unique style of "melodic screaming" really shines.

Next is "Funeral", which has pretty strange lyrics (but then again, which Devin song hasn't?), starts off calm and slowly builds up into a majestic, soothing piece of music, with lots of effects, layers and sounds to give it depth. It's like you're becoming liquid and flowing among the beautiful calm sounds, of this majestic piece of music. It took me a great deal of listens to get into this one, but it's worth every second of it. "Funeral" fades out among the majestic sounds of keyboards which seemingly effortlessly imitate the back-and-forth flowing waves. Enter "Bastard"

"Bastard" may be the most difficult piece of music on this album to get into, at least for me it was. It's majestic. Epic. Desperate. And yet somehow strangely beautiful, in the same way as when you drive alone through the city at nigh, the rain pouring down hard on your car, leaving you alone, sheltered from everything and everyone else, reflecting about the despair, loss and hopelessness of the moment. And when you think, it cannot get any better, it stops and you hear waves. You don't only hear them, you can literally see and feel them through the music. They're coming, in majestic, yet destructive beauty, one after the other, overwhelming, crushing you, letting you scream out every time one of them hits you, leaving you overwhelmed by your meaninglessness in comparison to the vast, uncompromising and cruel beauty of the ocean. Then you die...and along with you, dies the music. Enter "the death of music".

This, ladies and gentleman, may be the sole most unbelievable piece of music, I've ever had the pleasure to listen to. "The death of music" is a piece so unbelievably epic, powerful, brooding, dark and beautiful, it takes you to a far away place, onto a high cliff endlessly high in the skies from where you can watch the ocean absorb everything. Everything, including the earth, the air, yourself and your mind. It's mostly an electronic track, which starts with a simple drum beat, adding more and more layers of dark sounding keyboards, providing samples, to give the atmosphere even more depth. As the layers build up an impenetrable wall of liquid sound, Devin starts singing. "It's like a death becomes musical", he sings, emotional, desperate and this is exactly what it feels like. Apocalypse by water, the end of all life, all things, everything. And yourself standing on that tall cliff, watching the world crumble, fall apart, taken out by the rain and crushing waves of the ocean.

As The death of Music fades out after its climax, you've led to believe, that everything is over now, but in fact it isn't. There's one more track, a bonus track called "things beyond things", which somehow manages to create a beautiful, melancholic and comforting atmosphere using just one (!) chord, leaving you peaceful, calm and wondering, what the fuck just happened with you after listening to the masterpiece that is Ocean Machine. At the end you'll get a little reminder that takes you away from your dreams, back into reality, but I won't spoil anything for you.

"O earth, what changes hast thou seen?". Many indeed and this is one of them. This record has changed music forever and you should be part of it. Buy it. Listen to it. Drown in it. And bow to the genius that is Devin Townsend.

Stand back. Genius at work. - 100%

AngelofBreath, August 21st, 2006

Ocean Machine was, I thought, in the Devin Townsend section of Metal Archives, but I checked recently and it seems to have either been my imagination or just to have been moved. The latter would be strange because it is by rights a Devin Townsend solo project. As far as I’m aware Devin’s responsible for just aboot everything on here barring drums. But to the album in question, it’s an absolute classic work of industrial/ ambient heavy metal that we’ve come to associate from the mad hatter known as “Hevy Devy”. This is in my own opinion the second greatest thing he’s ever released after the mighty “City”, and, baring in mind that’s one of my favourite albums of all time, its worth mentioning that it doesn’t miss out on being his best work by much.

Devin’s solo work is always different to what he coughs up with SYL and sometimes it yields rather dissatisfying results, “Terria” for example just hasn’t connected with me as much as I try, however no two Devin Townsend CD’s sound alike. As a result, in trying to describe the sound of any of his albums one usually comes out with saying “it’s a cross between the ____ and ____ albums”, or something similar. This isn’t terribly helpful though, especially if you’ve never heard any of Townsend’s solo work previously. In describing the overall sound, it’s fair to say that it does sound very oceanic, there are seagull like noises at one point on the track “Sister”, yet it’s much more organic and less forced than that. It’s a type of atmosphere, one of wateryness, landscapes and horizons that floods through nearly every track. I would go as far as to say that all Devin’s work is not aboot the smaller elements like riffs or solos, but all aboot the atmosphere and the overall impression created, indeed it hinges on it. If an album of Devin’s has the wrong or no atmosphere it often leaves fans scratching their heads in the same way that the recently released SYL album “the New Black” did. Nobody’s saying it’s bad, yet it doesn’t fill quite what is expected of Devy. If you don’t “get” or appreciate atmosphere on metal albums and are solely interested in crushing guitar riffs and blistering solos (not that that’s in any way at all a bad thing) then it’s a fair bet this isn’t going to be your cup of tea. This is just something else. A completely different proposition which relies on electronic and industrial sounds and overtones to create a state of sound which does sound like the ocean in its various phases. Devin’s bipolar disorder can be seen in the overall sound as one of tranquillity and nature, acting as a counter point to the mechanical hell of “City” released around the same era (the pre “Skullet” era!) so much so that on the song “Night” it includes the lyrics “say you’ll come back to the city with me, come back with me please!”

But don’t be fooled. Tranquillity there may be and a slowish tempo, but it is far from unthinking and idiotically naïve. Many of the songs are sinister, and have an edge of misery and regret to them.

Getting, at great length, to the songs themselves; its all great! Not a single track out of place, nothing I dislike or feel doesn’t belong or disrupts the flow. The beginning kicks off with a hippy like narration aboot the sea and nature before “Seventh Wave” gets under way, a great opener that moves at a solid pace and has a cool determined feel. The next two songs are probably the most pop like and conventional on the album; “Life” and “Night”. The former is almost so pop-like I was shocked when I heard it. Was this the same man who’d made such ear-bleedingly heavy songs as “Home Nucleonics” and “SYL”? Believe it, and it fits so well that what might be thought of as the lack of credibility that a song like this might engender is simply, to me, not an issue. “Night” is a little stronger and is tinged with ragged experience and emotion but, again, you can actually sing along to it.

From here the album gets more settled and goes down a gear and goes through “Hide Nowhere” at good pace but with a less hum-able style. “Sister”, which follows is just a linking transitional track and doesn’t have too much to it. Having said that its obvious that in the scheme of the album that its not meant to, and a track which is comprised of sound effects, ambience and a few simple riffs on acoustic guitar simply is exactly what is required at this point. It also fits with the ever loveable sound of thunder breaking, which never goes amiss.

It continues and gets interesting, “3 AM” is tricky to explain because to some it’ll be a pointless linking track, to others it’ll be a very honest interesting track. Lots of looped echoing samples with thoughtful vocals. Either way its short and crescendos into the following track “Voices In The Fan” , which doesn’t again do very much but it sounds good and finishes with some choral voices doing some very nice unaccompanied singing with some strings and extremely slight electronic sounds run underneath it. “Greetings” up lifts and raises the listener followed by a full song proper “Regulator” which runs on nicely and, again, there’s not necessarily too much to it but it’s a great song. It fits perfectly, nothing fancy, just what feels right and builds into the chorus with expert precision.

“Funeral” feels what can be described as atmospheric, but it really is inadequate as a description. It builds and flourishes with even more sea gull noises and plateaus nicely into “Bastard/ Girl From Blue City”, a song with the usual brand of honest, isolated emotional lyrics (“grey people stare at a static sky, ours is not to question why…to all the hopeful ones, no one gives a fuck what you got”). Here you have the feel of the ending tracks summed up. Of retrospection, of loneliness, isolation and sadness, all accumulating in “The Death of Music”, a track that I’m loathed to listen to alone because it makes me cry. The song is not so much aboot the instrumentation (there’s no guitar or drums, merely percussion, keys and electronics) but the lyrics build on and on changing each verse and heart-breakingly climaxing (“it’s like a death becomes musical!…don‘t die on me, don‘t go away, when I need you here in my need”) from despair to reconciliation and back again, ending with a audio sample of someone talking to someone aboot a golf driving range where you shoot golf balls into the sea. If ever there was a more philosophical image on life, I don’t know of it. This song is a work of terrible beauty to me in the same that Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” is but infinitely deeper, the lyrics aren’t all discernible because some are spoken, but it echoes onto each other so it feels all way too much. I’m slightly drunk right now listening to this and I can’t describe how it makes me feel. Everything feels irrelevant, only this song matters and its beautiful. It makes you think of a glistening panorama of spent power, regret and holding onto life despite what the bastards throw at you and you’re consciousness.

So how do you follow that? “Thing Beyond Things” is acoustic led and, again, it’s all aboot the lyrics. They convey images of retrospection and harkening back to childhood and that idea I used to have of you and you’re significant other against the universe, and when you had so much time (“once when I was young I used to dream for hours and hours, I dreamt a world that wasn‘t small”). A perfect sequel to “the Death of…” and the last track, ending with silence followed by the sound of a horrific, terror-stricken scream. Make of that what you will.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this at first, I thought it had some catchy tunes at the beginning and then sort of phased together in the middle and end. That’s not what I think now. I leant this to my ex-girlfriend (yep, that significant other I used to share everything with) and I actually missed it over the holiday. Even if you’re not sure, please, give it the time and effort I feel it deserves. It’s one of the extreme polar opposites of a man at an unstable time in his life and its currently where, at 20, I feel I am now. You may just hear some extraordinary things. As has been conveyed when I’ve tried to explain what each song is like, there’s nothing exactly brilliant aboot some of the tracks in the conventional sense by themselves. There’s no particularly memorable guitar riffs nor an amazing thrashy break down change of rhythm, which is presumably why it's reffered to as "prog". There is just the atmosphere I described at the beginning of the review. Of landscapes, awe, sadness and isolation.

Try as I might I can’t think of enough of the right words to tell you of my undilated love of this album. I can only think of “thoughtful”, “awesome” and “overwhelming”. I only hope I’ve done it justice.

Well then. What you got to lose?

EDIT: I've come back to this album recently (over a year since the original review) and decided it is the best album I've ever heard. It's the only truly perfect album I've heard (City comes close :P )

A perfect 100%.

Weird... - 78%

Sean16, May 20th, 2005

Could we expect such a piece of progressive metal from Devin Townsend, the man behind Strapping Young Lad? Considering his later pieces of work (Terria, Physicist, Accelerated Evolution...) the answer may be yes. Anyway here is his first solo album, Ocean Machine – Biomech, a strong progressive metal release.

The opening track, Seventh Wave, is truly great. It sets up the standards for the whole album: mid-paced tempo, solid - though not amazing - guitar work, slightly distorted vocals and, above all, this odd atmospheric background we will find in every song here. This might be due to the keyboards use as well as to the production that, let’s admit it, has it flaws: non-existent bass (what doesn’t bother me that much) and vocals sometimes lost in the mix. The drumming too is rather impersonal – the average prog-rock drums, nothing special, Devin Townsend could as well have played the drums himself it wouldn't have been worse. Though, the song manages very well to recreate this “ocean” mood suggested by both its and the album’s title. Good job.

The following tracks (Life, Night, Hide Nowhere), though still being fully enjoyable, are more mainstream progressive metal – or even prog-rock, sometimes featuring some annoying pop-ish vocals (Life, the most radio-friendly track here). Night also offers nice electronics in the background (yes, nice electronics - though I’m not fond of electronic music, believe me), while Hide Nowhere finishes on this puzzling ambient interlude, Sister – a few guitar chords, “sister” repeated again and again, backed by ocean sound and seagull screams. Tell me the meaning of that. Ocean Machine, that is.

3 A.M is an interlude as well, then, Voices in the Fan is easily one of the best songs here, Devin’s voice becoming more aggressive in the verses (not Strapping Young Lad, though), while being again almost pop-ish in the chorus. And then... what’s this? A Gregorian choir?! Oh, I understand. The “voices in the fan”, I presume. Unexpected stuff, but unexpected is what makes this release interesting. The following track, Greetings, is still good but has nothing new to offer.

And then, here is the best track here... Regulator! Apparently random drums to begin, Devin shouting “I’mmmmmm regulated” again and again, almost the only lyrics there... yes, this is no more pop-ish, this is metal, and, above all, this is ART. And again tell me the meaning of that... I know. The ocean works as a regulator of climate or something like that, right? Regulator of Devin’s mind too? hum... Anyway, a masterpiece.

Unfortunately the end of the album won’t be so brilliant. The last three tracks (Funeral, Bastard, The Death of Music) are just... boring. I mean, not awful, the atmospheric, “oceanic” feeling is still there, but obviously too long. Why having put the three longest tracks altogether? Indeed the main problem is not really the songs length, but rather the fact they seem to never begin. An eight minutes introduction for a song which will never come. And too similar, these songs just don’t stick in my mind anymore after I stop spinning the CD, I can only remember this funny “Jesus was a poor boy” verse from Funeral, even after several listens. And above all, they lack of energy...

Eventually the “bonus” track, Things beyond things, brings on nothing special in itself, but at the end features... the most amazing shriek I have ever heard! It sounds like a man on the electric chair, a pure moment of madness by Devin Townsend. Wait, Devin IS mad. Nothing surprising, thus.

To sum up we have here a good progressive metal album I can only recommend to any Devin Townsend fan, any prog metal fan in general and anyone loving... ocean and/or weird atmospheres. Personally I would tend to fall asleep after Regulator, fortunately the final shriek would wake me up just on time to change the CD. Or to listen to the first songs, again.

Highlights: Seventh Wave, Voices in the fan, Regulator... and the ending shriek.