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Devin Townsend Project, Animals As Leaders, Monuments

Tue. November 18th 2014 8pm The Commodore Ballroom (No Minors) 8pm
$28.50+
Tickets at: Live Nation, All Ticketmaster Locations, Scrape Records
Presented by: Live Nation
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT:

For Devin Townsend, ‘‘Casualties of Cool’’ is more than just the latest release of a prolific career to-date. You probably know him as the founder of Strapping Young Lad, you might have Steve Vai’s Sex & Religion, which features the Canadian metal star on vocals, or the countless other releases he’s put his name to. But you can forget all that for now. For Townsend, ‘Casualties of Cool’ is an escape – from over 20 years of relentless productivity, of the pre-conceptions of him that come with being one of the biggest names in his sphere.

A project over four years in the making, largely at night when home from turning the dial up for the day job in the studio, ‘Casualties of Cool’ has seen Townsend look at himself in order to go forward. Digging out a battered old Fender amp and telecaster, he revisited the rootsy country and North American folk music of his youth. It provides the backbone of the album that’s eventually come to fruition, opening with ‘Daddy’s’ shuffling percussion and bluesy finger-picked motif, resurfacing during ‘The Code’s’ sultry twilight atmospherics and ‘Forgive Me’s’ hushed ambience. It’s a subtly applied but vital part of this record, providing the bones for the flesh to hang from. “My childhood was full of that type of music,” says Townsend. “At Christmas my grandfather would insist on the whole family sitting around singing uncomfortably along to Johnny Cash songs and Irish stuff like the Clancy Brothers. It was a big part of my childhood, it’s not like I’m putting on a new hat here.”
However ‘Casualties of Cool’ isn’t a vehicle for nostalgia either; instead it uses these familiar troupes as leaping off points. Tracks like ‘Moon’ wind off and away towards astral planes, soft-edged textures coalescing and separating around murmured vocals; ‘Bones’ relatively straight-up balladry sits side-by-side ‘Deathscope’s’ cavernous production, making for a sweet juxtaposition between that and the intentionally simplistic rockabilly that characterises its structure. Sometimes the quiet is burst open by a bright blast of saxophone or choral chanting, but always, always a sense of night-time and nature pervades.
“There’s such a specific environment around my current home in Vancouver,” Townsend ponders. “There are coniferous trees, it’s really rugged. I find myself more and more just wanting to move north away from people. I like the rain, and the dichotomy of dark and quiet. I like being near the water or the mountains. Spending time in hot, dusty Los Angeles – for instance – in a recording studio isn’t stimulating. Making Casualties I found more excuses to get in some kind of environment.”

‘Casualties of Cool’ is a chance to switch off from our hyper-accelerated world, its relentless rush of 24/7 communication, and the competing voices that jostle for attention as they threaten to submerge our own. For Townsend, the themes of the record surround what he believes to be a bridge in his career; an acceptance of the artist he is today and embracing the fear of leaving behind what people know of him.

ANIMALS AS LEADERS:
When Tosin Abasi released his debut solo album under the moniker ANIMALS AS LEADERS in 2009, few would have predicted the band’s meteoric rise to the apex of the progressive rock/metal world. Although Abasi earned acclaim as the lead guitarist in the Washington, D.C.-based metalcore act Reflux, it was still a long-shot that an instrumental album of progressive metal with jazz, electronic and ambient flourishes would develop anything more than a cult following.

Fast-forward two-plus years to Weightless, the group’s sophomore effort, and ANIMALS AS LEADERS is revered worldwide as a trailblazing pioneer of modern heavy music. The group’s genre-defying compositions have earned extensive praise — Steve Vai called the band “the future of creative, heavy virtuoso guitar playing.” Guitar World Magazine also featured Abasi on the cover twice over the course of this album cycle, further cementing his legendary status within the current progressive scene.

Now in 2014, ANIMALS AS LEADERS delivers what is quickly going to be hailed by fans and media alike as the group's career defining release that will ultimately redefine the progressive world as we know it. This third full-length release is a bombastic, dynamic and innovative explosion incorporates elements spanning across the entire musical spectrum. It also marks the recording debut of drummer Matthew Garstka, whose technical proficiency and unique style allows Abasi and guitarist Javier Reyes the room to push their boundaries to previously unthinkable heights.

Reyes states: "I think some of the new tracks are some of AAL's strongest and musical material yet and extremely happy with how the album came out. Everyone who took part with this album (Misha Mansoor (Periphery), Adam Getgood (Periphery), Diego Farias (Volumes), and Navene Koperweis) is extremely talented and I think we've done a great job of capturing it onto what is now the third ANIMALS AS LEADERS album."
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