Here’s a bunch of stuff I wrote about Empath on Twitter.
So, like every red-blooded proggernaut in the world right now, I’ve been spinning Devin Townsend’s Empath since it dropped, and I HAVE THOUGHTS ABOUT IT.
Mainly, that it’s the most important album I’ve heard in ages.
Yes, it’s beautiful (no surprises there). It’s a genre-bending, meticulously orchestrated/produced tapestry of sound designed, it seems, to yank you by the ears into Devin’s world: a place where petty bullshit falls away and you stare in awe at the beauty of creation.
(Literally: “Let there be light/ Let there be moon/ Let there be stars and let there be you.” In an essentially meaningless existence, it’s through creation — artistic creation — that we find meaning and really live. Devin is showing us the way with HIS authentic creation.)
(I mean, you’ve watched the “Genesis” video a thousand times by now, right? He’s literally throwing the word GENESIS at us in a big, unavoidable font synchronized with a triumphant chorale. A gathering of angels!)
The album’s like that from top to bottom. “Singularity” is the most ambitious prog epic I’ve heard since, oh gosh I dunno, “Supper’s Ready”?
And it always surprises you. I mean, “Why?” sees Devin switch seamlessly between consonant, Disney princess-esque crooning to his patented Townsend-scream, and maybe you’re thinking, “Does it work?”
OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH, OF COURSE IT DOES. IT’S HEART-ACHINGLY BEAUTIFUL.
More than anything though, if you’re going through ROUGH TIMES right now — and based on ambient conditions, that’s unfortunately likely? feels like everyone is hurting these days — listen to Empath. Trust me on this. TRY THE PAPAYA.
Full disclosure: I am. Going through rough times, that is. I’m only kinda semi-open about my depression? Not because of shame, but because I’m a private person. But it came to a head for me about a month ago. I reached Peak Despair®. Could barely get out of bed anymore.
So I took some time to make my health my first priority for the first time in my life. I have a great team of brain mechanics helping me right now, but working through years of repressed angst ain’t easy.
And then, Devin dropped Empath. And it’s JUST what the doctor ordered.
I think this album is important not only because it’s a masterpiece of sound, but because Devin is the only musician I can think of who could write lyrics like “If you can’t shine for you friend, please shine for me” and mean them SO EARNESTLY that it gets through to me.
So, through the eternal Infinite we survive
Know that seasons change and we must forgive ourselves
Seize this fear as any animal would do
— Devin Townsend, Singularity
I mean, come on, that’s some KIERKEGAARD shit right there. And I LOVE Kierkegaard (aka Existentialism Daddy).
Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down…Hence, anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself.
— Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety
Empath is that final kick in the pants you need to take the Leap to Faith.
I’m so grateful to Devin for Empath. I’ve felt a lot of things about music before, but I’ve never felt as humbled, as lucky-to-be-alive-in-this-moment, as I have listening to this album. Devy’s given us such a beautiful gift.