It certainly seems that some trends have become popular during these strange times. Streaming concerts were hot in 2020 but have died down a bit by 2021, perhaps because of the increasing hope for more live shows soon. Until now, the only place you might have heard Devin Townsend perform “Ocean Machine: Biomech” in its entirety was Plovdiv in 2017 (which, incidentally, our editor did!). However, not everyone has the means to make their way to an ancient Roman theater, so fans were privileged to have the opportunity for another Devin Townsend live stream, where he played his second studio album “Ocean Machine: Biomech” in its entirety. The event took place on Saturday, May 1st, in front of fans streaming from around the world.
There is no need to introduce Devin Townsend; his music explores many genres, including heavy metal, alternative metal, progressive metal, as well as electronic and hard rock. “Ocean Machine: Biomech” is the second solo album Townsend released, with his own distinctive twist on the metal music genre, choosing to go for melodic vocals, atypical for a metal vocalist (at least at the time). Playing in a style that is really significant for layering not just vocals, but also melodies, the simple, sometimes repetitive lyrics allowed for the complex, instrumental parts to shine.
It is interesting to me how the transition was made from real live events to streaming events and how the dynamic of fans is quite similar. Instead of cheering and screaming before the show began, fans now buzzed and typed excitedly in the chat as the screen displayed a video of ocean water with heavy metal music playing in the background.
The show started at exactly 22:00 as the camera cut to a high energy and excited Devin Townsend, standing outside on the patio of a The Farm Studios -set in the middle of the woods. Townsend greeted fans and, with a small introduction, kicked off the first song, “Seventh Wave,” with deep vocal intro while a drone camera zoomed out and showed the beautiful nature surrounding the studio. Townsend started by saying, “It is a beautiful day” with his typical funny comments and tried to give a viewers the feel of a live concert encouraging the audience to participate. The song “Life” began with bright guitars and gentle vocals.
Besides the main cameras filming the show, two drones were used. The screen, from time to time, cut to a zoomed-out shot that showed off the beautiful view overlooking the forest and mountains. These shots evoked a feeling of adventure. Continuing with the third song of the live stream, “Night,” this fan-favorite included synth with a prominent electronic backbeat, as well as that well-known powerful chorus. “Hide Nowhere” starts with a heavy guitar intro and a suspenseful leading riff, set against a bright musical backtrack. For the soulful slow ballad, “Sister,” Townsend changed to an acoustic guitar. The song nicely ended with the sound of thunder.
A slowly paced melody started “3 A.M.”; it was kind of interrupted by the buzzing of the drone, which Townsend referred to as “the mosquito.” Using a recording microphone that really did a good job picking all other sounds nearby evidently had a flaw. The song blended into “Voices in the Fan,” which had a worrying feel before leading into “Greetings.” What sounded like a prerecorded track of a chorus singing gave the intro a spiritual vibe that later became dark and foreboding.
“Regulator,” with its powerful riff blending with the synth, also featured a brief electric guitar solo; it has simple, repeating lyrics but is likewise very melodic and catchy. The backing music on “Funeral” felt galactic, with a bright guitar and ethereal intro, with reverb throughout the song. During “Bastard,” Townsend alternated between melodic vocals and screaming. With an interesting drum pattern as an intro, he started “The Death of Music.” Townsend alternated between growls, whispered vocals, and robust melodic singing, overlapping guitar and synth with additional the creepy background noises that left listeners on the edge of their computer screens. This was the first and only song of the live show where Townsend did not play any guitar parts and focused only on singing.
In the end, Townsend had his speech and went through the fan chat and, because fans requested it from previous live streams as well, he played the chorus to “Ocean Machines” on an acoustic guitar. Townsend finished by thanking everybody. Overall it was highly energetic and emotional live steam with an all-natural beauty surrounding it.
Written by Peter Jerman
- Seventh Wave
- Hide Nowhere
- 3 A.M.
- Voices in the Fan
Not One of My Better Days
The Girl from Blue City
- The Death of Music
- Thing Beyond Things
- Ocean Machines (chorus only)