Devin Townsend
Lightwork


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dizchu USER (13 Reviews)
November 6th, 2022 | 41 replies


Release Date: 11/04/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An attempt to find order in a time of chaos

In 2018, Devin Townsend disbanded his touring band, The Devin Townsend Project. Originally a means to start anew after Strapping Young Lad, it had become its own institution. Able to headline festivals, play the Royal Albert Hall and have orchestral accompaniment at Plovdiv’s Roman Amphitheatre, it was a commercially reliable act. But Townsend’s release of the space country side-project Casualties of Cool the same year as the second Ziltoid demonstrated a divergent, conflicting creative path.

Attempting to clear the drawing board, Empath was released in 2019. A conscious attempt to reconcile disparate elements of Townsend’s sound, as well as push him out of his comfort zone. This maximalist spectacle was to be accompanied by extensive touring in the years following, only to be doomed by a seemingly apocalyptic global coronavirus outbreak. Confined to his home studio, Townsend’s creative drive became suffocating and chaotic. The first product of which was 2021’s sound experiment, The Puzzle.

Every Devin Townsend album relies heavily on the context of its creation, more so than usual for Lightwork. Described by the man himself as one of his most difficult albums to record, it comes as a surprise when listening to it. The album’s ten tracks are mostly laid-back, holding on steady grooves and soothing drones. Even its heavier moments feel relatively muted in comparison to the extremity of Empath, like distant thunder rather than a full-on tornado.

This works in the album’s favor, as it recalls the moody drive of Ki more than anything else. Its forward momentum is a steady pulse, accentuated by the increased electronic influence apparent on tracks like Moonpeople, Equinox and Dimensions. The latter being a synthwave industrial track which recalls SYL songs like Aftermath and Force Fed, only filtered through the gentle haze of the rest of the album. Heartbreaker sounds like a more concise and controlled version of the bloated Singularity suite from Empath.

Lightwork was the result of a creative process that produced a huge amount of material, which led to Townsend recruiting famed alt metal producer Garth Richardson to help structure into an album. The accompanying bonus disc Nightwork hints at different directions the project could have taken. Some tracks like Starchasm pt.2 and Factions sound like they’re from a mirror universe Ziltoid record, others like Boogus sound like they’d fit on Casualties of Cool. The song Celestial Signals on the main album was originally on Transcendence’s bonus disc, suggesting that the pool of available material might have been even larger.

This presents a dilemma. On one hand, the fact that Lightwork is such an enjoyable collection of tracks demonstrates the strength of Townsend’s and Richardson’s instincts when structuring an album. On the other hand, the album feels like a playlist. The revelation in interviews that Heartbreaker was a last-minute replacement for a song on the main disc is more questionable than endearing. It calls into question the entire point of releasing music in album format, especially since several songs on both discs had appeared previously.

Perhaps that’s the point. According to Townsend, Lightwork is the result of trying to make sense of one of the most disruptive worldwide events in human history. It is an attempt to pick up the pieces, collect one’s thoughts and find clarity. If Devin Townsend wants you to feel anything after Children of God fades into the sounds of an overcast seaside, it’s that life carries on. And so will Townsend’s career, though it’s anyone’s guess what comes next.



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user ratings (153)
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
pizzamachine (3.5)
One album to rule them all, and in the Devin-ness bind them....

TheCrow (2.5)
After three years of waiting and a couple of experimental albums in between, Devin Townsend returns ...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Dizchu
November 6th 2022


455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I might have relied too heavily on references to Devin's past work here, but the man's got like 400 albums by now and I don't think Lightwork is gonna be anyone's first.

kalkwiese
November 6th 2022


9293 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ye, gud review, pos

mkmusic1995
November 6th 2022


791 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, feel pretty similarly. Very solid album by Heavy Devy!

DarkNoctus
November 6th 2022


11978 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

had a listen or two of this and i'm still not sure about it. there's some lovely soundwork here but i can't help but feel devin's voice sounds a bit lost in such an empty soundscape. definitely more enjoyable than empath but i haven't fully made my mind up yet.

zaruyache
November 6th 2022


25819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

3.5 it!

DarkNoctus
November 7th 2022


11978 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

nah, think I've made my mind up. it has nice moments but on a whole it's goofy and tacky. celestial signals makes me want to claw my ears out.

Dizchu
November 7th 2022


455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dude needs to make another Casualties of Cool.

radianteclipse
November 7th 2022


407 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Celestial signals is one of the best songs whaaat

zaruyache
November 8th 2022


25819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

YOU'RE LIKE A BUTTERFLYYYY

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLEEE

MoM
November 8th 2022


1680 Comments


YOU’RE MY BUTTAHFLY

SUGAH

BAYBEE

trilo
November 8th 2022


5302 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i have very little hope this is good but damnit i'm gonna try!

StonedManatee
November 8th 2022


391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I’ve heard worse but I am not impressed.

Zakusz
November 8th 2022


943 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This seems all pretty safe and somewhat "lame" in places

Veldin
November 9th 2022


4885 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review, mate. Both Lightwork and Nightwork are dope but for different reasons. Lightwork definitely has some cheese, but I mean, it’s Devy, so somehow I find it endearing. Main disc has been growing on me all week, but Nightwork was love at first listen.

MetalFrost66
November 9th 2022


34 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I came across this album on Youtube by pure chance and couldn't be happier I did. I had to buy the 2CD version right away.

NudeTayne
November 9th 2022


85 Comments


Devin's albums are like your haul from trick-or-treating. Something there everyone can come away with.

Comatorium.
November 10th 2022


4978 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Look at all these wrong people giving this a 3 and below AND saying it’s better than empath

Dizchu
November 10th 2022


455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Got my physical CD today and the liner notes say Rhys Fulber did work on Equinox. Huh, that's neat.

BenThatsMyJamin
November 10th 2022


3992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The riff in Equinox sounds like it could have been on Infinity



Enjoying this more than any new Devin album in recent memory

beefshoes
November 11th 2022


8436 Comments


This sounds promising. Haven't really connected with a Townsend album in nearly a decade, so hopefully this will be more up my alley.



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