Ocean Machine - Live At The Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv by Devin Townsend ProjectRelease date: July 6, 2018
Label: InsideOut Music
As well as producing groundbreaking series of albums and live residencies covering large swathes of his extensive catalogue, Devin Townsend has also made sure that these special performances have become more than just mere live albums. Instead he put together an amazing package for the Retinal Circus tour and also his recent Ziltoid show at the Royal Albert Hall. Now he turns his attention back to the Ocean Machine album, one of his first deviations from his early Strapping Young Lad project which at the time was at their peak having just released the landmark City album. With the success of City and his more recent solo albums, Ocean Machine has almost been forgotten in a vast sea of amazing work. This was until the decided to mark the albums 20th anniversary with a very special show at an Ancient Roman Theatre in Bulgarian city Plovdiv with the album played in full, with another set backed by a local orchestra. This is the resulting live package.
The first two discs feature the first part of the evening, which was a fan requested setlist that spans the breadth of Devin’s solo career from the sublime (‘Truth’, ‘Deep Peace’) to the ridiculous (‘By Your Command’ and ‘Bad Devil’) and everything in between. The fan requested set shows the expanse of his work over the last two decades and his masterful skills as a live performer as the songs take on a new life in the grand setting of the ancient theatre. A large part of this set comes from the Transendence album and the addition of the orchestra really adds to the overall sound and effect of what is quite an extraordinary performance.
The third disc is where Ocean Machine is revisited, in its entirety, and in order as gives this lesser celebrated work its rightful attention. It’s got everything that we’ve grown to love about Devin’s music over his prolific career. It’s got the huge memorable riffs, stunning melodies and soaring vocal lines, and that’s just in opener ‘Seventh Wave’. What follows over the next hour or so is an exercise in near perfection. With the orchestra gone and the band (complete with original bassist John “Squid” Harder) concentrate of reproducing that trademark ‘wall of sound’ that comes with every DTP studio release. It’s impossible to pick out high points as it is a superb collection.
This release is another fine testament to one of the most prolific and talented musicians of his generation. This album also marks the end of the Devin Townsend Project as the frontman moves on to new musical endeavours after a long and very successful run of albums with this band. True to everything he has done, it is a very fitting way to say goodbye to this incarnation safe in the knowledge that whatever comes next, will be every bit is exciting and mind-blowing as what has come before.