DEVIN TOWNSEND – Lightwork / Nightwork [Deluxe Edition] (2022)

DEVIN TOWNSEND - Lightwork / Nightwork [Deluxe Edition] (2022) - full

After a few exceptionally long years full of personal change and near manic levels of creative activity, talented Canadian musician DEVIN TOWNSEND releases his follow up to 2019’s well received Empath in the form of his new release, ”Lightwork”.
Assembled from a barrage of material written during the pandemic, ”Lightwork” (and its companion album of B-sides and rarities; ”Nightwork”) represents Devin at this stage of his life, post pandemic, and his reflections on what he (and many of us) have all gone through.
Featuring the likes of Steve Vai, Mike Keneally , Anneke Van Giersbergen just to name a few, for ”Lightwork”, Devin decided to see what would happen if he included a producer (an experiment he has been excited to attempt for some time) to help guide this selection of material. He chose long-time friend Garth “GGGarth” Richardson to help bring this idea to fruition, and through a difficult (but wonderful) process, the next Devin album have been delivered.
The name ”Lightwork” represents the music, as well as the act of creating music, as a kind of ‘light in the dark’ while trying to navigate the seemingly endless challenges that life can often present.

When things seem like there’s “no way out” or that a situation becomes seemingly insurmountable, the connection to music, family, and creativity became a ‘light in the dark” that is the bedrock of this wonderful album.
This is Devin’s first time properly working with a producer, resulting in his shortest studio effort for a decade. It’s still 56 minutes long, mind, but each second is stuffed to the girdle with prog rock merriment, as Devin’s wall-of-sound is moulded by Richardson.

If ears could chew, ”Lightwork” would dribble down the sides of your head to the point of indecency. It sounds delicious. Sort-of title-track ‘Lightworker’ is the closest Devin’s come to actualising the dream he’s chased since 2012’s Epicloud: hippies playing major-key metal, but kinda doing Rodgers & Hammerstein with a bit of gospel. That seems like an awful idea, but when Dev’s operatic ‘Tell me there’s another!’ booms over the chorus, strings flying and choirs cooing, you can’t help but be moved. The earnestness, the commitment, is what sells the moment.
‘Equinox’ pulls a similar trick, his shrill scream of ‘The world is gonna turn without you, baby!’ drawing tears rather than blood.

Though the first half of ‘Lightwork’ leans heavily on Townsend’s skill to craft dreamy melodies with layered yet delicate arrangements, the album takes a heavier turn in its back half. ‘Dimensions’ starts this trend with its dark synth tones and liberal use of death growls. It ranks as the most experimental piece on the record thanks to the atypical structure which sends the listener down a rabbit hole of confusion, especially during the final section which builds and builds before coming to an abrupt halt.
Comparatively, ‘Celestial Signals’ offers a more recognizable symphonic metal style that Townsend still manages to make mellow during the verses.

‘Vacation’ offers a reprieve from the heavier sounds on the second half of the album, letting Townsend deliver some of his most intimate lyrics atop a gorgeous acoustic pop melody. The penultimate placement on the disc is rather peculiar, but ultimately works to distinguish itself from the songs on the album.
‘Vacation’ also offers the perfect palette cleanser for the 10-minute epic ‘All God’s Children,’ a track which stacks layer upon layer of vocals, guitar, and other assorted instruments to create an imposing wall of sound. For many prog fans, this would be the highlight of the record, but I can’t help but think the track overstays its welcome just a bit given how little Townsend deviates from the main musical idea.

Regardless of how one feels about the length of the closing track, there’s no denying that ‘Lightwork’ is another smashing success for Devin Townsend. Like so many of his records, it deftly blends heavy and soft material with ease, but unlike his previous works, it does so to a degree that is shocking.
There’s never been such an extreme dichotomy between light and dark on any of Townsend’s albums, and the choice to push himself and do new things such as work with a co-producer (shout out to GGGarth Richardson) shows that Townsend isn’t content to phone things in, even after 25 years.
One can’t help but admire such tenacity.
Highly Recommended


01 – Moonpeople
02 – Lightworker
03 – Equinox
04 – Call of the Void
05 – Heartbreaker
06 – Dimensions
07 – Celestial Signals
08 – Heavy Burden
09 – Vacation
10 – Children of God


01 – Starchasm, Pt. 2
02 – Stampys Blaster
03 – Factions
04 – Yogi
05 – Precious Sardine
06 – Hope is in the World
07 – Children of Dog
08 – Sober
09 – Boogus
10 – Carry Me Home

Devin Townsend – vocals, guitar, bass, synth, computer, orchestrations, co-producer, mixing

Steve Vai / guitars
Mike Keneally / guitars
Anneke Van Giersbergen / vocals
Ché Aimee Dorval / vocals
Morgan Agren / vocals, drums, percussion
Darby Todd, Federico Paulovich / drums
Diego Tejeida / keyboards
Nathan Navarro, Jonas Hellborg / bass
Elektra Women’s Choir / choir



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