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on 3 March 2006
First of all...if you're familiar with SYL, and are expecting more of the same from Synchestra, you WILL be dissapointed. The only similarity is the production, as it's very similar to Alien. But that's where the likeness stops.
When I first heard this album I was very let down, for that exact reason. It was too chirpy, too happy, to straightforward (deceptively so).
Now, for those very reasons, this album has really grown on me. From start to finish it's a thoroughly uplifting album, and there's far more to it than meets the eye. It opens with a solitary acoustic guitar being gently strummed, campfire style, and is soon accompanied by Devin's smooth pitch-perfect clean vocals. Somehow, they merge seamlessly into a blasting torrent of double kicks and euphoric riffing, and so it keeps progressing. They throw everything in there, from some utterly Vai-esque soloing on "Triumph", to the occasional banjo interlude, and even some polka-cum-circus music; "Vampolka".
Listening to it now, it's hard to convey what exactly it's about - think Fear Factory with walls (huge, thick, very tall walls) of keyboards and layered guitars, injected with large quantities of "happy". You really have to hear it for yourself I guess.
The other thing that I appreciate about this album is that it manages to be heavy without the pretense of somehow being "evil" or dark. They're just making good music, and having a good time .
If I have any criticism of the album, it's that some songs kinda drag on a little bit...but to what extent depends on the mood you're in when you listen to it. If you really let yourself become immersed in the whole thing, you want it to go on and on. If, on the other hand, you just want to listen to the odd song, it might seem a bit boring at times. So for that, I'll take off one star.
All I can say is, don't be put off the first time you put this in your CD player. Put yourself in a good mood, grab a cold beer (or a hot cup of tea, depends what you like!) relax and just take it all in. And most of all, remember...this is NOT Strapping Young Lad. Keep that in mind and you'll be fine :)
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VINE VOICEon 14 February 2006
Wow. Mfffmffmfmrr..... Dribble..... My brain hurts.... I think I've just seen the future of metal, and it's a crazy Canuck with a receding hairline. I've been listening to this now for 3 days solid, and it keeps getting better.
If you're familiar with the Hevy Devy's previous output, think Ocean Machine crossed with Terria, sprinkled with the humorous bits of Infinity (without the self indulgence). But this time, it feels like this is the album Devin has been wanting to make for ever. It's dripping with inventiveness, gorgeous melody, vast textural soundscapes and catchy songs, and it feels cohesive in a way Dev hasn't nailed since Ocean Machine. It's HUGE. The flow of the album is fantastic, and is a really organic and cerebral listen. It has the trademark Devin wall of sound approach, but with an inherent earthiness that's really hard to describe in words. Put it like this: it's like the wind blowing through trees, in the same way that Ocean Machine was like waves on the shore.
Any attempt at description will be misleading, especially concerning the polka section (it works, really), but the guitar work and vocals Devin employs here are really second to none. I personally rate this as the equal of anything he's put his name to, and my second favourite behind Ocean Machine. The songs are mindblowing, with album highlights being "Triumph", the absolutely magnificent "Gaia" and the twin insanity of "Vampolka" and "Vampira".
The digipack is lovely too, and you get a live DVD recorded in the studio of the Devin Townsend Band playing tunes from Ocean Machine, Terria, Accelerated Evolution and the latest record, which is really worth listening to. It also has behind the scenes footage, and extras, and would be worth the asking price alone. So, 5 star album, 5 star DVD, for a remarkable price.
Devin fans: BUY NOW. Anyone with an interest in progressive metal, and a sense of humor: BUY NOW. For me, this is already in my top 5 albums, and I doubt there will be another album as dead cert for album of the year as this. It really is that good, and I'm harsh with my reviews.
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on 14 August 2006
This album is a work of genius. If you like dev get it if you haven't already. Words really can't describe how good this album is!!
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VINE VOICEon 1 February 2006
"I'm a ping-pong, I can go until I'm bored with one emotion and then I do the other. I need that time of light when I can put the dark in and vice-versa, so the Devin Townsend Band is the antithesis of Strapping Young Lad. I couldn't have written "Synchestra" if I hadn't done "Alien". Now that I've written "Synchestra", I can write other things."
So says Devin Townsend, one of the most consistently creative musicians working in the rock and metal medium over the last decade. "Alien" was the heaviest thing Townsend has ever put his name to, and its understandable that he would want to look in other directions. But fear not, there's heavy and there's heavy. And this is the latter. It's just his way of showing that you don't have to be brutal. Because this record is still chock full of riffs, don't think for a moment that it isn't. It's just this time around Devin has let his experimental hounds off the leash.
It's a shame that I first heard this on Robert Burns day, as the opening track "Let It Roll" nearly had me reaching for my shotgun. There's nothing like the faux celebration of a serial adulterer and tax collector who got famous off the back of stealing oral histories and passing them off as his own. So a blast of "Wild Mountain Thyme" in "let It Roll" had my anti folk barricades on full repel mode.
Fortunately, it was a brief interlude as from "Hypergeek" onwards, this album is an aural treasure. devin is a Todd Rundgren for the 21st century as he switches from the brutal riffing of the aforementioned "Hypergeek" into the intricately layered and the hook drenched "Vampira". And, of course, there is the obligatory heavy metal polka tune - yes, really! And "Vampolka" has that oompah tuba vibe just right. If only I could remember where I packed my lederhosen! There's even some dodgy nu-romantic keyboards on “Judgement”.
Townsend has described "Synchestra" as a mellow retort to "Alien", which is true, but gives a false picture of the content here. After all, he's hardly gone all James Blunt on us! Take onel isten to the album highlight, "Gaia" and tell me that The Devin Townsend Band don;t know how to rock. 'cos as every true rock fan knows, 'ther's only one way to rock'.
I know it's still early in the year, but this is going to one of the musical highlights.
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on 8 January 2006
I must say that I was a bit disappointed with Accelerated Evolution, but my wife actually liked some of it - her taste is more Robbie Williams. I had hoped for a follow-up to Terria, which that album wasn't.
Terria was, for me, a very important album that reignited my interest in rock music and did a great deal to encourage me to start writing and recording my own material again.
Now - this album has arrived and it is truly magnificent. A genuine masterpiece that seems to continue where Terria left off.
At points, it's heavier than a really heavy thing (!), but even when it's blasting at you, there're still the soaring melodies over the top.
I just love this album. I wish there were more bands out there like DTB, but what the hell - he does what he does and it's great.
Well done, Dev!!!
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on 20 May 2014
Another great album from one of the most talented and unique artists in music, I first heard Devin Townsend's music just last year when I heard "Love" by his band Strapping Young Lad after which I went straight to YouTube and spent a good few hours going through dozens of his videos. Since then I have been slowly buying in all of his albums and recently bought this one. Every album I have heard has been a musical masterpiece and Synchestra is no exception, this music doesn't fall in to a particular genre and although its close to hard rock/metal it has a blend of others musical styles thrown in from blues and country to ambient and deeply atmospheric. Devin's music is full of his personality and ranges anywhere from loud and furious to deep, peaceful and relaxed. One reason his music has been literally the soundtrack to my life since last year is that there is always something to listen to here for however I feel at the time. Great artist, great album that I think any true fan of music as a whole owes it to themselves to listen to this.
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on 6 April 2006
so then here it is devs newest work and how is it? very good as always and even more awkward than normal.if you are new to devins work then start somewhere else as this isnt the easiest way to start with his music, what im trying to say is that this feels like an album for his already existing fans not one thats going to pull in new ones. the riffs are still there and the vocals are still good but the only niggling thing is that although it is good, very good infact he has done better before and i think he will do better again. its not as heavy as 'physisist' not as wierd as 'infinity' and not as catchy as 'ocean machine' but it is a good album. just not his best work but that said devin townsend treading water is still alot better than most bands in full flow.
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Devin Townsend really is something special. He has covered a variety of projects over his career and the simple fact is that he is hard to put into any one box. Okay, clearly he is going to appeal more to those who prefer 'serious' rock music but I suspect that some of his output might also appeal to someone who likes large scale loud classical music - think Wagner.

Now if you look at the CD is has a track listing which is slightly misleading as the reality is that this whole album blends into a cohesive whole, rising and falling through a variety of musical genres but never far away from the 'Wall of Sound' that Devin favours. It is very heavy - in places - but is also light hearted in others. His voice soars and covers a range that probably no other singer currently in vogue can match. He combines this with guitar work that rivals that of far better known exponents such and Satriani or Vai. Speaking of Vai, on this album you can definitely hear a little influence from Passion and Warfare.

Part of the reason that I gave it four stars not five is that I find this record slightly less accessible than his latest effort Epicure and you really have to put aside enough time to listen to the whole masterpiece in one go. It's the kind of record you have to put onto a decent system, turn up load and immerse yourself in.

Certainly a record that is magnificent in it's scale and I heartily recommend it to those who like rock in a huge panorama.
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on 26 October 2006
Odd for an album to start with a an acoustic - most rock bands would opt for a sledgehammer as an opening track. This album though, like the opening track, seduces you slowly, but with certainty. If you are looking for hardrock of the riff/verse/chorus variety, you are at the wrong address.

The music is as complex as it (conversely) is accessible. The production is crystal clear, beautifully layered, and the vocals are used to compliment the intrumentals, rather than to rise above them. The songs keep on revealing something more with each listen, and all though each differ markedly from eachother, they all contribute somehow to the same feeling of grinning fulfillment.

The whole album is located to my ears somewhere between Terria and Infinity, but is neither. Sometimes heavy, but mostly not. Unpredictable, and yet without big surprises. Always brilliant on many levels, and increasingly enjoyable with every spin.

If you are already a fan - you must have it. If you are not a fan, perhaps you should stretch yourself a little, and dip your toe in (but make sure you have enough money to then go out and buy his entire back-catalogue).
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on 27 March 2008
I've had this album for about a year now. I remember first listening to it and thinking there were some really great moments, and some not so great. Good, but no Terria or Ocean Machine. However many listens later, Synchestra has transformed into one of my favourite albums of all time.
It's more of a journey than a collection of songs, and I think the more you get used to that the more you enjoy it. It's not your standard 'full circle' progressive album. It starts in one direction and manages to morph into something quite different by the end, whilst still maintaining a similar underlying style.
By metal standards this album is quite happy, which I think puts alot of people off. It's happy in a very heavy and sometimes quite emotional way, but nevertheless still quite happy.
Though the album should be listened to as a whole, songs 'Gaia' and 'Triumph' are good introductions otherwise.
In short, I think Devin has created something absolutely incredible. Definitely my favourite Devin album, and one of the best albums I own out of hundreds.
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