Mar 212017

 

(Andy Synn attended the performance of Devin Townsend, Tesseract, and Leprous in Nottingham, England, on March 18th and files this report.)

Despite the fact that this site is called “No Clean Singing” we’re actually big fans of clean sung vocals here… well, in the right circumstances anyway.

No, the site’s moniker originally stemmed not from a blanket hatred of clean singing, but from Islander and co’s growing dissatisfaction with all the bands shoehorning clean vocals into their songs in a desperate attempt to appear more “accessible”, and therefore more marketable, at the cost of both their overall intensity and their underlying integrity.

I personally have a lot of love, and a lot of respect, for bands on the heavier end of the spectrum who are able to integrate and incorporate clean vocals into their sound in a way that feels totally natural. After all, it’s generally a lot more difficult to hold onto a melody and to hit all the right notes than it is to simply scream your lungs out atop a parade of blastbeats/breakdowns/bombastic riffs (not that I’m attempting to downplay the skill and strain involved in being a good screamer/growler).

So when a show like this rolls around, featuring three bands whose singers are all capable of knocking it completely out of the park (and practically into orbit) with their clean singing abilities, you’d best believe that we’re going to write about it.

Sep 092016

Devin Townsend-Transcendence

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Devin Townsend.)

The man, the myth, the legend, known as Devin Townsend is certainly a creature of many contradictions. And, over the years, his various attempts to integrate and incorporate the many different facets of his nature have certainly produced some of the most compelling, creative, weird, and wacky wonders of Metal’s modern age.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t deny that he’s one of the genre’s most distinct and idiosyncratic personalities.

He’s also never been one to rest on his laurels, or try and go backwards. He’s said as much in interviews himself. And though there are doubtless going to be those who feel like he’s been playing it a little too safe recently (an accusation I wouldn’t necessarily refute, since the majority of Sky Blue felt like a poppier reworking of similar themes and ideas from Epicloud… which itself had its fair share of generic filler), he’s never consciously tried to resurrect or repeat his previous work. Each album is a unique statement reflecting a specific place and time, and a specific state of mind.

Which is why you might be surprised to learn that Transcendence is the closest thing to the Accelerated Evolution days that Devin’s produced since… well, since Accelerated Evolution!

Aug 202016

Grand Tetons-Jackson Wyoming-2

 

That stunning vista above these words is what greeted my eyes this morning. I’m on a short vacation in the presence of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. I’m not telling you that to be a dick, but only because I know how vitally interested you are in my every movement, except perhaps for bowel movements.

I did tear myself away from awestruck gazing at the horizon long enough to listen to four new songs, one of which comes with a video. I thought all four were good enough that they would make a nice collection for this Saturday morning, saving me the agony of trying to sift through all the other good stuff that came out since my last round-up.

The first two songs are exceptions to our oft-violated Rule, and the last two open up the extremity throttle in very different ways.

Dec 122014

 

I’m getting kind of a slow start on today’s blog posts. I had a long, glorious night at the Mortals/Sólstafir/Pallbearer show in Seattle (about which I’ll have some garbled words and blurry photos to share later on), followed by four hours of sleep, to be followed by a grind at the old fuckin’ day job, so yeah — I’m moving pretty slowly.

But rather than have nothing new at the top of the page for the next couple of hours I thought I’d post the first piece of music I saw upon switching on the computer and scanning my e-mails. It’s a lyric video for “March of the Poozers” from Devin Townsend’s Z2 album (which can be acquired here). The press release also included a statement by DT that I’ll reproduce after the video.

And now, Bow To Your Alien Ambassadors!

Oct 062014

 

We haven’t previously posted about the forthcoming album  by the Devin Townsend Project, which is now scheduled for worldwide release on October 27, but not for lack of interest. It is Devin Townsend, after all, and few musicians muster the kind of enthusiasm around here that he does. Now we have a chance to make amends for our neglect, because Gun Shy Assassin has just premiered a lyric video for one of the new album’s new songs: “Deathray”.

 is a double album, and this new song comes from the Dark Matters half of the release. It will come as no surprise when I tell you the video is a kick to watch. Of course, it involves an intergalactic invasion of our pathetic planet.

The music is also a kick. It’s a hard-rocking intergalactic shake. I feel the groove! You will too! Run for your fetid lives!  Prepare for the coming of your Zootoonian overlords!  (listen and watch next)

Sep 112014

 

(In this post our man in the UK, Andy Synn, reviews a live September 4 performance in Islington by the collaboration between Devin Townsend and Ché Aimee Dorval known as Casualties of Cool.)

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to see Casualties of Cool, the world’s finest proponents of Ambient Canadian Space-Country, perform a gorgeous, mesmerising set at The Union Chapel in Islington. And it’s taken me a while (I have been somewhat busy/ill in the intervening time) but I’ve finally got round to penning some thoughts about the experience.

To start with, for those of you who don’t know, the venue itself is pretty magical, a beautifully apportioned and enclosed chapel with rows of pews on ground level before the stage (and pulpit) and several more on balconies up above. The stained glass windows and hanging wrought-iron chandeliers add a touch of weight and worth to the surroundings, while the candles flickering in alcoves in each overhang only enhance the warmth and beauty of the place.

When it came to the show itself… well, there’s a reason this was sold under the title Casualties of Cool, and not under Devin’s own name. Because for once this really wasn’t a Devin Townsend show.

Jun 042014

When our man Andy Synn reviewed Casualties of Cool, the new album by Devin Townsend and Ché Aimee Dorval, he called the music “Canadian Space Country”. I thought that was a clever turn of phrase, but also an apt description of the songs. And when he came to the album’s second track, “Mountaintop”, he wrote that it generated an “earthy, alien-country vibe”, the “ghostly strumming and phantom background radiation conjuring a series of strange, synchestrated visions out of simple sound and silence”. Only today did I realize that “synchestrated” isn’t in the dictionary. But it too somehow sounds… apt.

And I’m thinking about “Mountaintop” because today the UK’s Independent premiered an animated video for the song. The artwork is by Jessica Cope, who also created the fantastic video for Steven Wilson’s “The Raven That Refused To Sing” (which you should watch here if you haven’t already). Here’s the description from the Independent: “It follows the story of a traveller who is lured to a sentient planet which feeds off of the fears of its inhabitants. He finds solace in old objects he finds there, including a vintage radio and a phonograph, and eventually confronts his fears. In turn, his actions free a woman trapped inside the planet.”

May 142014

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Devin Townsend.)

When it comes to Exceptions To The Rule here at NCS, there’s one man who’s clearly the most exceptional of all. And it’s a damn good thing too, because the music on Casualties of Cool is simultaneously fantastic, rewarding, and thoroughly outside of the usual NCS ethos.

In fact if I had to describe this one in simple terms, I’d call it “Canadian Space Country”.

Wait, come back…!

It’s really, really good!

Jul 242013

I’m still in catch-up mode on new things I haven’t been able to write about over the last few days. So, despite the fact that I already posted one round-up today, here’s another one, collecting three recommended new videos and one new song. As usual, the music is quite diverse.

THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT

On October 27 of last year Devin Townsend put on a tour-de-force live musical retrospective at The Roundhouse in London, which he called “The Retinal Circus”. Our own Andy Synn was there and wrote an evocative review, which we illustrated with photos and video clips. The performance was recorded for later release on both DVD and Blu-ray (via InsideOut Music).

Almost one week ago, DT released a clip from the DVD, the performance of “Grace” that closed the show (but for the encore), but I missed it until this morning. If you’ve seen any of the video clips of the show that previously surfaced, then you know this was a visual extravaganza. But the DVD excerpt of “Grace” is a taste of the pro-shot, multi-cam rendition that the DVD will deliver, and it’s awesome.

I’ve loved this song from the first time I heard it, and I got chills all over again when it transitioned from Anneke Van Giersbergen’s opening vocals into the hevy. I got more chills later. Is it too emo for me to say that? Well fuck it, I’m just being honest. The video is next.

Oct 292012

(UK-based NCS writer Andy Synn delivers these thoughts on “The Retinal Circus”, Devin Townsend’s tour de force show on October 27 at the Roundhouse in London, with video clips at the end — including a high-quality stream of the entire show.)

Steve Vai. Metaphysical musings. Harold. A gospel choir. Anneke Van Giersbergen. A white suit and top hat. Sexy cat-people. Angry monkey men. Religion, War. Flame-throwers and angle grinders. Ziltoid. The 6th Dimensional Planet Smasher (and his hot slave girl).  Mrs Ziltoid. Giant green vaginas. Baby Ziltoid!!! Vampires, drink, and drugs. Clown-midgets. Aliens!!!

[Takes a breath]

Unexpected acoustic ballads. Shameless hippy sing-alongs. Lighters in the air, arms-waving stadium-rock. Steve Vai’s abusive, talking skull. Jed Motherfucking Simon. STRAPPING YOUNG LAD.

Cherry blossom trees and proposals of marriage. Life. A wedding soundtracked by an utterly stunning rendition of “Kingdom”. Devin’s inner demons. Aerial acrobatics. Love? Fan-waving and pole dancers. Torrents of confetti. Going from Heavy to Big. Glorious “Grace”. A down-home finale with couches, bearded ladies, and a miniature marching band like some sort of off-the-wall take on the end of Lord of The Rings.

That was The Retinal Circus.

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