Thrash Hits

March 30th, 2011

Live: The Devin Townsend Project @ London Islington Academy – 26 March 2011

Devin Townsend 2009 promo photo Thrash Hits

You’ve got to hand it to him, Devin Townsend is one evil-looking genius. His music is like an astro-sonic odyssey that makes us feel more intelligent than we actually are, every time we listen to it. After destroying most of our brain cells at Hammerfest III, we thought it would be a good time to go and feel clever again.

Six things we learned when Devin Townsend Project played Islington

  • Tonight’s support, Aeon Zen sound somewhere between the realms of Blind Guardian and Dream Theater and it’s obvious they are fairly good at what they do. The band are tight and full of technical precision though seem to lack the confidence to truly deliver the grandiose scale of their music. This could very well be because it’s a one man project with live session musicians who have yet to develop any potent chemistry. Annoyingly their logo is plastered all over the stage with two banners behind the kit and two screens showing live footage, including the banners. Staring at a stage with the words “Aeon Zen” spelled out four times was a bit of an eyesore, especially considering this is the support act. That’s your name, we get it.
  • If there was one venue in London we could buy and torch, it would most certainly be Islington Academy. Doesn’t your heart sink a little when you hear of your favourite artists touring the UK and you see those dreaded words printed next to the London date? Whoever came up with the grand idea of using a sterile room with piss-poor acoustics in the middle of a shopping mall for gigs should be hung, drawn and quartered. In public, like at the end of Braveheart.

  • Despite the choice of venue, Devin Townsend Project sound absolutely colossal tonight. Ryan Van Poederooyen’s relentless mechanical blasts give the strongest rhythmic backbone possible for Devin’s warped, idiosyncratic mélange of prog and metal. Devin himself is as masterful as ever, effortlessly sweeping his way through modal arpeggios and creating complex soundscapes against the dizzyingly atmospheric synth tracks.
  • Back in 2009 when the four-album Devin Townsend Project series was announced, we saw a new Devin emerge: clean-living and bald-headed, thus ditching his trademark Skullet haircut. But fear not, there is still at least one Skullet in Islington tonight being proudly worn by bassist Brian Waddell. Good for him.
  • Whilst it’s all too easy for music of this nature to become overly serious and self-indulgent, Devin’s zany personality succeeds in keeping the mood considerably light for a progressive metal show. Everything from his contorted facial expressions and stand-up banter to the film clips of Ziltoid searching for his “ultimate cup of coffee” command full attention from the crowd throughout the two-hour set.

Devin Townsend @ Bloodstock Open Air - 14 August 2010 by Tim Goode

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Devin Townsend @ Bloodstock Open Air - 14 August 2010 by Tim Goode

  • Some of you will have seen Devin Townsend Project at Bloodstock Open Air last year. Despite facing the arduous task of performing to a few thousand people with much of his equipment missing, that set was easily one of last summer’s highlights. A few cretins out there have been moaning about his addition to this year’s lineup and this angered us so much we had to go and write about it. Even if it’s just him and a broken Chad Valley children’s keyboard, Devin will rule at Bloodstock 2011. No doubt about it.

Devin Townsend Project @ Islington Academy setlist
By Your Command
Earth Day
Bad Devil
Color Your World
The Greys
Deep Peace
Bend It Like Bender!

Aeon Zen @ Islington Academy setlist
Time Divine
Natural Selection
Into the Infinite
Redemptions Shadow
The Demise of the Fifth Sun



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