Devin Townsend - Lightwork (Inside Out Music) [Richard Oliver]
When it comes to a new Devin Townsend album you never quite know what you are going to get. The man has dabbled in so many different sounds across his vast discography that you feel he could go in any direction. Over the past few years we have had the everything thrown at you all at once approach of Empath, the ambient Guitar Improvisation lockdown releases and the sound collages of Snuggles and The Puzzle. So the big question is where is Devin going to take us next?
So here is the big question answered - what does Lightwork sound like? Well it sounds absolutely like Devin but in a far more relaxed and introspective light. There is very little in the way of big heavy guitars, the vocals are almost entirely clean and it is an album big on poppy hooks and melodies. Songs such as Lightworker and Call Of The Void are massive songs with hooks big enough to gouge deep into your flesh and they are simply wonderful. Classic catchy Devin songwriting which is remarkably uplifting and life affirming but Lightwork does have a few tricks up its sleeve.
Although Lightwork feels like a more stripped back and relaxed Devin album it is definitely not the case as each consecutive listen unlocks little niggles and nuances that were missed the first time round. Lightwork like all good Devin is as equally accessible as it is complex. After last year's very polarising The Puzzle and Snuggles albums this is an album that will definitely go down well with the Devin fan base. There are plenty of tunes which are going to become guaranteed live favourites. It is not my favourite Devin album personally as I would have liked a bit more menace and craziness but there is no denying that Lightwork is another excellent album in the Devy discography. 8/10
The Pretty Reckless – Other Worlds (Century Media Records) [Dean Palmer]
The Faceless King rules – I desperately wanted to just write that, give a score (see below), and expect you to trust me on this one basic truth: The Faceless King rules. Go back to those times you listened to and became obsessed with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon or Rush’s 2112. I'd add to those: being mind-blown over Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son or Queensryche’s Mindcrime. Was it King Crimson for you? KISS? Genesis? Sit down with that moment now. Go back there and look at your face all shiny with acne and wonderment. Now, listen here and know this: The Faceless King is that kind of special record that you’ll always treasure, that you’ll return to regularly forevermore. It’s an album you’ll want to tell everyone about. I can’t stress this enough.
Being long time fans of Ingested, we were hyped to hear the band were releasing new material, hot on the heels of their 2020 masterpiece Where Only Gods May Tread. Suffice to say, their seventh studio album had a high bar to reach. Sadly, this time they’ve fallen short.
The title track opens the record in classic fashion, with punchy drums and aggressive riffs aplenty. It’s clear from the get-go, however, that Ingested are more heavily leaning on their deathcore influences. Notably, the use of ambient pads to create ethereal passages that wouldn’t be out of place on a Lorna Shore album, and clean female vocals that wail away against choppy stop-start rhythms. From this point on though, it all becomes very generic - Shadows In Time, You’ll Never Learn, and Tides Of Glass all blur into one. A mid-paced chugfest laced with Lyn’s signature double kicks, and a sprinkling of quintessential Ingested licks. In stark contrast to previous releases, the songs are one dimensional and lack identity, with few stand out hooks.
From Hollow Words initially picks up the pace with more energy than the previous tracks combined, alongside the iconic vocals of Aborted’s Sven de Caluwé. But as quickly as the vibe arrives, it evaporates, leaving in its wake the same malaise. And if you told 2010 Charlie that Ingested and Trivium would collaborate on a track, he’d have lost his mind. Yet the 2022 result is lacklustre and grating. Matt Heafy’s strained vocals on All I’ve Lost added an unwelcome sourness to the dreary music it’s paired with. By the time With Broken Wings comes around, it’s clear there are recycled rhythms, reused melody, and even a repurposed Phil Collins lyric.
This review has been incredibly difficult to write and may come across as particularly harsh, but it’s because we know how good Ingested can be. There are some highlights to be had, such as the groove in Echoes Of Hate, the solo from Tides Of Glass, and the production is solid with all elements at the perfect level. Alas, Ashes Lie Still isn’t a notable addition to their esteemed back catalogue. 5/10