Devin Townsend – Lightwork: Album Review

May your heart be filled with peace! Grandiosity rules! Devin Townsend and the clarion call to positivity.

Release Date: 4th November 2022

Label: Inside Out Music

Formats: digital / CD / vinyl + special editions

Sounds like it could be the sequel to Devin Townsend And The Pandemic Of Fear or even Devin Plays Out In His Pyjamas. Lightwork is the new album that plays on the strength of the analogy of the lighthouse as a beacon of hope in troubled times. Not only that, we’re promised a set that’s his most ambitious yet most accessible.

The latter statement could be record label hyperbole, but in a brief chat we had with DT he actually called it, “in the top three most difficult records to do. This one, Infinity and Alien were amongst the most difficult to do and maybe this one at the top if you add the pandemic. But I went into it with the idea of working with other people and with the intention of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I did find parameters I was unwilling to go past, but I think that the struggle that came from being pushed is the reason why it’s a success on some level.

However, who’s usually their own harshest critic? For many who don’t miss some of the extreme Metal challenges that Hevy Devy throws at us, Lightwork is a gloriously uplifting and at times, transcendent experience. The devastating Metal with which DT heralded his post-pandemic return in shows such as Bloodstock, has been reined in and with the help of co-producer GGGarth Richardson, the ten tracks offer a little bit of everything.

Pondering over the gentle swing and bounce of Moonpeople, there’s an increasing sense of excitement in our hero that builds from a stark rhythm and singsong vibe into a full bodied and full blooded crecendo. The sense that Devin is just holding back on some of those screams for later on in the running order. Not too late as the DT wall of sound returns via Lightworker, switching to an operatic vocal intro and then Devin roaring out “Tell me there’s another, lead me to the mother, We are all of us!!!” is pure and sure DT, even down to the carousel sway.

The trademark vocal is muted on a couple of occasions, the whispering screm on Equinox becomes more of a relaxed lullaby on the dreamy Summer vibe of Vacation. The latter may well have you seeking out your Hawaiian shirt long since stored in the drawer from the Empath tour. Thta’s the kind of vibe that comes through on Lightwork. And while we’re taking a trip down Memory Lane, some of the bombast of the Devin Townsend Project years sneaks back in via Heartbreaker whose thunder is enhanced by another angelic choir.

In a stream of musical references to the Devy of old, Heavy Burden is carried on another bouncing rhythm, reminiscent of the days when Anneke Van Giersbergen added her angelic vocals to DTProject work, along with a hint of Ziltoid playfulness. The grand march at the core of Celestial Signals has a little U2 shaped guitar line sitting in the shadows along with the clarion call and inspirational “never regret for a minute” as the key lyric.

Any voicing of worries that Devin had delivered a U2 or even a Tears For Fears record as some may have mentioned, well, you may concede that Children Of God might have some TFF-ness although the ambience with which the track concludes and brings the album to a close is pure Snuggles/Puzzle. It brings a suitably relaxed close to an album that for many, us included, will be seen as a return to the songcraft of Devin Townsed at his best.

Here’s Call Of The Void from the album. Devin says: “The concept of the song is based around the ‘call of the void’ as an analogy for intrusive thoughts. I first heard the term describing ‘the temptation to hurl yourself over the cliff when your driving a car’… or to ‘put your hand in the fire when you know you’ll get burned’ etc… thoughts that you know are wrong, but you fear that you won’t be able to control the impulses to deny it. The point being: often I feel we have a choice, and trying not to lose sight of that was very important to me during recent difficult times.

Devin Townsend  online:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

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