Posted on by Oran

Canadian Prog Metal God, Sir Devin of the Townsend delivers another instalment from his Covid-induced live albums with a much more loose vibe than previous outings.

Devin is no stranger to the live circuit as this reviewer can atone having seen the man live in all of his musical guises well over 80 times.

This time around Devin gifts the masses with another live album, this one taken from his cut short US Empath Tour due to the Covid-19 pandemic, where he and his bandmates were mid-tour when the world hit pause and the subsequent dates were never fulfilled.

Throughout the pandemic, Devin was one of the most prolific and active artists, delivering countless live stream concerts and jams on both his YouTube and Twitch channels, even releasing some of these in physical format, purely because the man does not settle for second best when it comes to production and quality of sound, so here we are with the third instalment of his Devolution Series – Empath Live In America.

Recorded in the early dates of this ill-fated US trek, this is a much more stripped back live ensamble compared to his European line up in the previous year, and unlike many other tours where his live shows were heavily dependant on backing tracks, Devolution Series #3 feels almost like a jam, with several impromptu moments throughout the 60 minutes on show.

Obvious live cuts like ‘Kingdom‘ and ‘March of the Poozers‘ sound just as good here as they have on previous live albums, and the inclusion on the Strapping Young Lad anthem, ‘Love‘ is a welcome surprise.

Deeper cuts like ‘Hyperdrive‘ and ‘Evermore‘ sound glorious and the live Disney-esque pomp that is ‘Why?‘ is even better here than on Empath. Even a Casualties of Cool rarity ‘Forgive me‘ pops up, more so as Ché Aimee Dorval is present as a supporting band member on guitar and backing vocals.

The touring band as a whole also features musical genius Mike Keneally (guitar), Nathan Navarro (bass), Diego Tejeida (keyboards) and scandinavian multi percusssive loon and alround nice guy, Morgan Ågren (drums). Check out the track ‘Gigpig jam‘ to hear Ågren and Townsend fool around for four odd minutes and become creative gods of the absurd.

This album may not be for everyone and more for the completists, lets not forget Devin has already released a full blown, bells & whistles version of the Emapth Tour live album entitled ‘Order of Magnitude‘ not too long ago, along with the other half dozen or so official live albums throughout his career. But whereas a majority of these are all shiny and borderline perfection, Vol 3 here almost feels like you are in the room, hearing six people having an hour of fun, jamming Devin songs… and although it is not by any stretch perfect, it’s actually endearing to hear Dev let go of the reigns and just have fun. You can feel the comaradrie amongst the players, and that is what makes Devolution Series #3 – Empath Live In America a bit special.

In recent news Dev has said he is taking a time out from the live scene to fully focus on unfinished projects, so this could be the pill to cure you live Deviness until his return. May it not be that long. 9/10

Empath Live in America’ will be available from August 4th via Insideout Music. Pre-order your copy here.

DJ Pennell 2023