Ocean Machine


Ocean Machine - Biomech ©1997 HevyDevy Records
1. Seventh Wave
2. Life
3. Night
4. Hide Nowhere
5. -Sister
6. 3 A.M.
7. Voices In The Fan
8. Greetings
9. Regulator
10. Funeral
11. Bastard 1/ Not One Of The Better Days
12. The Death Of Music
13. Bonus Track

Ocean Machine, though only marginally different, is simply just another project for Devin Townsend (also the mastermind behind Strapping Young Lad). The former Steve Vai vocalist and general madman takes on the concept of music the ocean might make and puts it to an hour plus soundtrack. Featuring a highly texturized sound, rather intense melodic structure and ideas as large as at least the Indian Ocean (if not the Pacific), Biomech is a phenomenal and gripping piece of work that further defines Townsend as one of the premier artists of the late 90s/early 00's.

Shedding the angst and irrational emotions of Strapping Young Lad, Biomech begins rather pleasantly. Townsend emphasizes a more standard metal structure throughout this record, but his compositional skills are what pushes this album way ahead of the pack. "Life", "Hide Nowhere" and even the opener "Seventh Wave" are very memorable, catchy hard rock songs. But its the orchestrated and very powerful vocal approach on "Hide Nowhere" that defines Townsend's prototypical sound. The album also moves through occasional soundscape passages like "Sister" as well as broad and free floating epic tracks like "Bastard". On occasion, Biomech reminds me slightly of what Extreme desparately wished they could accomplish in their epic moments of III Sides to Every Story. As the album progresses, the tracks become more and more compelling and vast in sound. Layers of keyboards working very much in sublime underscore the fantastic gutair sound. Townsend's vocals are extremely appropriate for the music as well. The emotional climax of the album (which very, very few albums ever achieve these days, since too much emphasis is placed on easily digestible three minute radio pop songs rather than conceptually grand albums) is "The Death of Music". This lengthy track features a very somber and quiet opening segment working its way into a barely restrained explosion of tension and despair. If you do not get chills listening to this, perhaps you need a better air conditioner.

Grand and touching, Ocean Machine is truly a monumental work for Devin Townsend. Both immediately catchy and lasting in interest, Biomech is more than likely one of those metal records you overlooked. Though a bit of a chore to find anywhere, it is ultimately fulfilling and worth the quest.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2000

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