Devin Townsend has been on the metal scene for years. Since stepping out on to the stage as the frontman of extreme metal outfit Strapping Young Lad in 1995, he has gone on to become an immensely popular musician and producer known for his iconic 'wall of sound' style of production. Bringing with him an extensive back catalogue of music including 6 albums with SYL, and another 16 solo albums (6 of them under The Devin Townsend Project) and his new country-style project Casualties of Cool, he has spanned numerous styles and genres and released his highly anticipated album Za few days ago.

Being an avid fan of Devin Townsend myself, and finally seeing the appreciation for his music grow substantially following his recent releases with 'The Devin Townsend Project' and 'Casualties of Cool', I decided to go back through his music and find (in no particular order) some great hidden gems from his older albums that need to be heard (and reheard) by more people:

Bad Devil off Infinity (1998)

Now this song is one I've never heard anyone refer to when the topic of Devin Townsend's 1998 release 'Infinity' comes up in conversation (not as often as I personally would like). This song is great on so many levels and I feel the sheer theatrics behind the track need addressing because this song seems to be lost on the more popular tracks off the album, namely Christeen and War. His use of a brass band to accent the songs dark vaudeville sound is brilliant. Not to mention his soaring vocals over the chorus is all the more reason to start giving this song it's dues.

Regulator off Ocean Machine: Biomech (1997)

The album Ocean Machine: Biomech is largely considered to be his hidden gem of an album as it went by almost unnoticed when Devin's metal project Strapping Young Lad released their critically acclaimed 'City' album that same year. However a couple of tracks made their mark on people and have remained popular to this day, specifically the songs Life and Funeral. The track Regulator off his second solo effort is a great song that I feel goes by unnoticed if not just unappreciated. I think the great thing about this song, besides the song itself is the face that it has so many different elements of what has become his almost trademark sound in his newest releases, and to hear those sounds he is so popular for now start to develop back in 1997 is amazing.

Last Minute off Strapping Young Lad (2003)

Strapping Young Lad's self-titled release was a departure from the typical industrial/extreme metal sound they had become known for, instead vying for a more death metal style. Last Minute is a personal favourite on the album and a track that any self-respecting metalhead needs to listen to. From the fist-pumping crowd chant to the mad blast-beat by the one and only Gene Hoglan, 'Last Minute' is some of the rawest metal I've heard and definitely something that needs to be heard more.

Planet Rain off Physicist (2000)

Devin's 2000 release 'Physicist' is widely considered to be his worst work, so much so even Devin Townsend himself called it his worst album to date. This album is the only one under the 'Devin Townsend' catalogue to feature his band Strapping Young Lad. I can't explain what it is about this song I love (same can be said for the album), but I think this song stands out because it's very different from the rest of the album in that it's considerably slower and more coherent for one, but this track has something considerably more melodic about it, which at moments make you sit back and just take it in, in all it's grandeur.

Heatwave off Epicloud (2013)

Now I debated whether or not to put any tracks from his Devin Townsend Project releases as they're not only very recent but also arguably his most popular series of albums to date. That being said, the second CD of 'Epicloud' is essentially a whole second album in and of itself and is something that shouldn't be as overlooked as it seems to be. What I really want to highlight about this song, aside from the fact that it's a great track, is the sheer production value put into this song (something that is actually quite evident in more and more of his newer releases) is amazing. The way he compresses the fast 'mountain tempo' verses to make you feel like flying through a tunnel, then opening the sound out to a huge spacious chorus. The replay value is infinite in this one.

Devlab XII off Devlab (2004)

Ok so I'll admit, this album really isn't for everyone. Being Devin's first ambient release, it's definitely a tough one to really get into, but within the noise and odd sounds here and there are some great moments, including this little gem. Now there really isn't much to this track which is partly the reason I like it so much. I have a big place in my heart for ambient music like this, and well I don't know if it's the chiming or the manipulation of what mood the chiming sets as the backing drones change, but it's a beautiful, introspective piece I feel you all need to hear.

Devour off Strapping Young Lad (2003)

Another off the self-titled 'Strapping Young Lad'. This track, I will admit I'm not sure is as underrated as I might think it is, as I have spoken to SYL fans who call this their favourite song, but they were very few and very far between. What I want to highlight about this track is something that many of them said in common, something I completely agree with, that the vocals are some of his best in the SYL discography. The sheer gut-wrenching, hair-raising factor to the screams on this track need to be heard!

Down and Under off Terria (2001)

This album is one of those albums I can talk about for ages and no matter what I say will never give it justice. Pretty much every song has something in it that will stick in your head that made me want to come back to hear them all over and over again. The track 'Down and Under' is one of those songs that I listened to on repeat for ages. Unlike the other songs in this list, this one is primarily acoustic guitar and features almost no vocals for the majority of the track too. That is, until around the 2:00 and 2:30 where things get heavy, and then almost typically 'Devin-esque'.

Sunset off Synchestra (2006)

This album, one of 2 in his discography to be released under the artist name 'The Devin Townsend Band' (not to be confused with 'The Devin Townsend Project'). This album was written soon after the release of of Strapping Young Lad's Alien in 2006. It's a much more positive sounding album for the most part, Steve Vai even features on one of the tracks! Sunset is a special song for me, it was one of the first Devin Townsend songs I heard outside of Strapping Young Lad, and it was the track that pulled me in as a fan, especially when followed by the next track on the album 'Notes From Africa'.

Noisy Pink Bubbles off Infinity (1998)

Another track off his 1998 release, this one I love because it goes through so many different sounds, sounding like 3 distinct songs in the space of only 5 and a half minutes! The first part reminds me of the work he did with Steve Vai's 1993 release, 'Sex & Religion', (thats right, Devin Townsend was Steve Vai's vocalist for much of that album), which obviously left a lasting effect on his music. What I love about this track is how seamlessly he transitions between the different parts of his songs, something he has always done well.

By Hashim Al Nasser

Underrated: In Flames

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