The “Empath” DEVIN TOWNSEND Makes Peace With His Darkness

Prolific album creator, Devin Townsend, is considered to be one of the most astonishingly creative musical geniuses of our time by many of the heavy musically minded individuals, musicians and fans alike.
Hearing his latest album interestingly titled Empath for the first time the only adequate way to describe it is: One needs a process to digest and take it in as a whole listening experience, the same way Deconstruction [2011] was.
Townsend profoundly begins explaining Empath, “If I had any sort of business sense whatsoever or any kind of agenda when it comes to what I do professionally that was separate from a compulsion to do what I feel is necessary to do, I would imagine that my back catalogue would be half of what it is now.”
Detailing it further he continues, “The reality of the work that I do is it’s intrinsically tied to where I find myself as a person in life and that identity shifts from year to year. I have no choice in my mind but to follow these things where they lead. When you have an environment that encapsulates not only middle age, which is where I’m at now but also the sheer chaotic insanity that is the world lately. Writing from the vantage point that I just described, I am at the behest of what wants to come out. Empath was [written during] a period in my life that required me to not only interpret all of the information that I had absorbed from the media and my own midlife predicament with those in mind; I needed to analyze my relationship with my past.”
“I looked disparately at all the albums that I had made, whether they be Strapping [Young Lad] or Ziltoid and analyzed my relationship with them. Which ultimately led to writing Empath which acts in a lot of ways as a crossroads for me not only creatively but my life in general”
Townsend has documented his path on his creative processes of writing and recording Empath by releasing several videos on YouTube. During one of those clips, while working with the Elektra Women’s Choir, he commented that through Empath he wanted to make something that represents the experience of being alive–expanding on that brief summation and expanding on where he is now to being where he was ten years ago, he elaborates. ”Well, the experience of being alive includes not only the beautiful parts of life but also the fact that life is fundamentally full of the unknown. The chaos that comes from trying to make any sort of peace between being a single human in this herd of humanity versus the fact that we are all cursed with these egos that force us to interpret our environment as either hostile or beautiful.”
Looking further Townsend continues to reflect on his past, “I have come to realise that over the last ten years that because Strapping Young Lad was a period in my life that ended in a way that was unhealthy for me that I have neglected to consciously make decisions not to write anything that has to do with the darker parts or my humanity. But upon making the decision to analyze myself, and that again comes quite heavily with my middle age particularly for a lot of us, I felt it was unavoidable that I have to make peace with those dark sides of myself. To fear yourself or your anger or even your fears is inherently something that leads us to avoid our thoughts about intrinsic parts of our nature that leads us to chase our tails creatively, personally or professionally. So, ultimately my goals in life are to get closer to whatever it is that’s my truth.”
Leading back to Empath Devin specifies an aspect further, “I wanted to create something that tries to represent my life, and that includes all sorts of things and some of those things I was really uncomfortable with. That included spending so long pushing back on myself which resulted in personal suffering that could have been avoidable if I had just surrendered to it.”
After putting in all the creative work, writing, adding and recording all of the layers that collectively make Empath, one is naturally inclined to sit back and wonder what it was like for Townsend to hear it as a whole for the first time.
“Frightening is the best way to describe it. When I heard Empath, and I recognized that that level of intensity emotionally is within me. It is something that I have been trying to represent from my experiences with moments that are greater than ‘I’. Initially, after hearing it, I was like ‘WOW!’ that is truly ‘ME,’ but then there was a sense of depression that it would never be what I want it to be. Ultimately the first time I heard it I was overwhelmed, and then ten minutes later I was thinking about dinner! [Laughs]”
Breaking it down further he explains, “The beauty of Empath and what I am trying to achieve is filtered through my own trip, bias, ego and insecurities.”
“Its intent was through the chaos and fear and through the storms there is a profound beauty in the experience of being a human, and being alive, but it doesn’t come without the juxtaposition of ugliness and darkness. ”
The first song Townsend has released thus far from Empath was “Genesis”. There has been a lot of social media discussion from fans about of the song. Clarifying his motivation for choosing “Genesis” he defines, “It is a very strange song. I wanted to start from the top of Empath. I want people to understand this record is meant to represent to me–more so than trying to convince people to love it.”
Concluding he finishes by revealing, “I guess that’s what Empath is meant to represent when I described it as ‘Empath representing LIFE!’”

Empath is out worldwide March 29th via HevyDevy Records and InsideOut Music

Written by Neil Vance

Metal V is a passionate, devoted METAL fan who's contributed to metal press & radio for over two decades. He lives & breathes metal 24/7 & surrounds himself with it always!

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