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CD Review: The Devin Townsend Band – Synchestra

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What’s the 4-1-1?
Latest solo project album from the Strapping Young Lad frontman.

Hard rock / progressive / experimental

The Good
With the opening track “Let it Roll”, you’d have no idea that this is a progressive hard rock album. The song recalls a sound similar to the Beatles (a far departure for Townsend). “Hypergeek” keeps that kind of vibe going with its clean guitar strumming and nature sounds, although you start to get the feeling something big about to happen. That’s when the seven minute epic “Triumph” kicks in. To say it barrels along like a train on the tracks would sound cliché if the dominating riff didn’t actually sound like one. Townsend takes you on an emotional journey as more and more heavy instrumentation is thrown into the mix. The building tension is undeniable, and the tracks conclusion is a little Steve Vai-ish.

“Babysong” is a fluid instrumental with lots of highs and lows. Haunting riffs run rampant of “Vampira”. Townsend’s vocal pattern mimics the main guitar lick as he expands upon the evil that lurks in the darkness. “Gaia” is a perfect example of prog-rock at its best. There are lots of tempo changes, progressive elements, and twisted drum patterns. If that one doesn’t convince you, than the eight minute “Pixillate” will. A repetitive riff set the pace for “Sunset;” one of the more straight-up rockers (sans words). I have to say that “Notes From Africa” is hands-down my favorite track on the album. There’s just something about its charging rhythms that draw me in. There’s a hidden track thrown in for good measure (possibly titled “Sunshine and Happiness for All”). It has a great classic rock feel to it, in the vain of Chuck Berry boogie-woogie.

The Bad
Nothing notable

The Verdict
Synchestra was quite a surprise. I had listened to The Devin Townsend Band when they opened up for Symphony X a few years back. I had heard of them, but never heard their work. The show was disappointing. The band sounded like crap and I couldn’t get into the music. Come to find out, Townsend was very happy with the tour itself, so it was reflected in their performance. Synchestra takes progressive rock to a whole new level with twisted textures and arrangements. I can honestly say I’ve heard nothing like it. Even though the majority of the album leans on the mellow side of things, the album still rocks when necessary.

Did You Know?
At 19 years old, Devin Townsend contributed vocals and guitars to Steve Vai’s Sex & Religion album.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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About George Dionne

  • Triniman

    I recommend you try out some of his other solo albums, particularly Infinity and Terria. He is an absolutely remarkable and unique artist, at least as a solo act. I’m not terribly familiar with the SYL material. I can think of no other “metal” musician who I am more excited about today.



  • George Dionne

    Makes sense to me. Thanks.