The Nine Circles ov…Devin Townsend (Part II: Not-So-Hevy Devy)

devin townsend

Welcome back to part two of The Nine Circles ov Devin Townsend! I suppose this should probably, technically, be called The Eighteen Circles ov Devin Townsend — because, you know, math; two lists of nine songs equals 18 — but really, the #brand trumps all. Anyway, you may recall that last week’s list focused on the more crushing elements of the Bald God’s catalogue. This week? It’s all about his lighter, calmer side. You’ve already had your long, expository intro, so let’s not waste any more time — here’s the list: 

“Ih-Ah!” (from Addicted, 2009)

When you think about it, Addicted‘s range is pretty amazing. Not many albums could open with these two songs, then jump effortlessly into something tender and pretty like “Ih-Ah!” and stick the landing. Something about those crisp acoustics in the beginning has always hooked me in with this tune, and even as it gets dancier later on, it never once loses me.

“Mountaintop” (from Casualties of Cool, 2014)

Casualties of Cool has done nothing but grow on me in the year since its release, and the almost “Rawhide”-esque dark country of “Mountaintop” has led the charge. The haunting duet between Devin and Ché Aimee Dorval lends an ominous feel that becomes completely cathartic during the chorus. Unreal.

“Blackberry” (from Ghost, 2011)

I wasn’t ready for Ghost when it first dropped. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it; I just tended to like lighter-Devin in interludes rather than full albums. That’s all changed since then, and “Blackberry” has been one of the chief beneficiaries. In five minutes, it takes you from a natural ambient sound into jubilant, banjo-driven folk — and it’s tremendous all the while.

“Ain’t Never Gonna Win” (from Ki, 2009)

Good lord, what a smooth jam this thing is. It reminds me of some of those extended jams The Verve used to do before they’d fully transitioned from shoegaze to Britpop. (Right down to the Ashcroftian high-pitch in Devin’s scat singing!) All in all, it’s a nice, bluesy, three-minute trip.

“Winter” (from Ki, 2009)

Because including “Ain’t Never Gonna Win” without its Ki counterpart would be like including a lamb without its tuna fish. These two make a perfect yin-yang.

“Sunset” (from Synchestra, 2006)

This one’s in a bit of a different vein from the others we’ve heard so far, in that it’s comparatively upbeat and mostly electrified. Still, it’s a nice little two-and-a-half-minute break in what can, at times, be quite a chaotic record — and as such, has always been a favorite of mine from Synchestra.

“Where We Belong” (from Epicloud, 2012)

“Where We Belong” is the ultimate lighter-waving song in Devin’s catalogue — and, sneakily, one of his best vocal performances as well. Everything about it is so perfectly understated, and coming from a guy known for his bombast (perhaps not on this album, but in general), that’s a nice change of pace.

“Warrior” (from Z² – Sky Blue, 2014)

Okay, I’ll admit it: the intro to this thing is a little goofy. But once Anneke van Giersbergen’s vocals come in, it’s a real killer. “Warrior” essentially amounts to a lead performance from her, and she totally slays it. It’s a strangely epic three-and-a-half minutes, with a chorus (“Hey, are you afraid / to say what you’re trying to say? / Remain, it’s the warrior’s way / Remain, it’s the warrior’s game.”) you can’t help but get stuck in your head.

“Deep Peace” (from Terria, 2001)

The first time I saw Devin live, he closed with “Deep Peace,” and the audience all locked arms in a giant group-sway. It’s one of the most powerful and moving songs in the dude’s entire catalogue, and there’s no way it was getting left off.

The Nine Circles ov Devin Townsend (Part II) on Spotify

That’ll do it! If through these two parts, you somehow haven’t been wowed by the majesty that is Devin Townsend’s solo material, then…I don’t really know what to say. There’s just no hope for you.

Keep it heavy,

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