On Saturday, May 1st, Canadian musician Devin Townsend played his second studio album Ocean Machine: Biomech in its entirety in front of fans streaming from around the world. Throughout his career, Devin Townsend has released 25 albums across his solo career and various projects, notably the band Strapping Young Lad. Townsend’s music explores many genres including, heavy metal, alternative metal, electronic and hard rock. In Ocean Machine: Biomech Townsend put his own distinct twist on metal music as he opted for melodic vocals, atypical of a metal vocalist. The simple, sometimes repetitive lyrics allowed for the complex, intricate instrumental parts to shine.
Fans buzzed excitedly in the chat as the screen displayed a video of choppy ocean water with heavy metal music playing in the background. At 3 p.m. sharp, the camera cut to a high energy Devin Townsend who was standing outside on the patio of a homey recording studio set in the middle of the woods. Devin greeted fans, “I don’t know what to say, it’s been a crazy period…but I hope you enjoy this and it means so much you’re here.” Townsend wasted no time and kicked off the first song “Seventh Wave,” which featured lo fi, deep vocals and an eerie feel. After finishing the first selection of the concert, Townsend raised his hands up in triumph. “Life” began with a quick paced, bright guitar.
The screen cut to a zoomed-out shot throughout the concert, recorded by a drone, that showed off the beautiful view overlooking the forest and mountains. These shots evoked a feeling of adventure while grounding the audience in the reality that individual lives are insignificant as compared to the vastness of the world. The third song of the live stream, “Night,” included a prominent techno backbeat, an explosive chorus and repetitive lyrics. “Hide Nowhere” kicked off with a heavy guitar intro and a suspense-inducing riff set against a bright musical backing. For the slow and soulful fifth song, “Sister,” Townsend switched to an acoustic guitar. The song ended with the sound of thunder. The lively “Voices in the Fan” had an ominous feel and led into “Greetings.” What sounded like a prerecorded track of a chorus singing gave the intro to “Greetings” a religious vibe that later became dark and foreboding.
“Regulator” featured a brief electric guitar solo and very simple repeating lyrics. The musical backing on “Funeral” felt galactic, with a bright, ethereal guitar intro and reverb throughout the song. During “Bastard,” Townsend alternated between melodic vocals and scream-like singing. “The Death of Music” included an interesting drum pattern intro as Townsend looked out at the view. He alternated between growl singing, whisper vocals and robust melodic singing, which perfectly matched the creepy background noises that left viewers on the edge of their computer screens. This was the first and only song of the concert that Townsend did not play any guitar parts. “Thing Beyond Things” kicked off with a slow guitar and drum intro interrupted by the sound of Townsend burping into the mic. The soulful selection ends as the camera panned away from the patio, only to be brought back with a loud screech scream.
Lastly, he played the chorus to “Ocean Machine” because a fan in the chat requested it. Townsend signed off with, “you gotta have hope; this is not some self-help bullshit. We’re all going through it. I’ll see you sometime.”