This is likely going to sound ridiculous to most people, but as someone who considers music a basic requirement for life, the musical direction my once favourite artist decided to take has left me feeling as though I’ve been mourning a loss.
I became a fan of Devin Townsend in 2007 when my husband (then boyfriend) introduced me to Strapping Young Lad. I fell in Love(?) with the emotional chaos, blast beats, and comedy that came through SYL’s music. Listening to it now feels so much like a musical representation of my ADHD and it makes perfect sense that I would love it.
I started to explore Devin’s solo work not long after that, which had a different vibe to SYL, but still appealed to me like nothing else had at that point in my musical journey. Every album was different, but still somehow perfect for me and itched my dopamine receptors in all the right ways. The emotion in his music seemed to match mine well.
It wasn’t until 2017 when he collaborated with the members of then band on Transcendence that his appeal started to fade. I still can’t really put my finger on why Transcendence didn’t hit the spot like his previous albums had, but something just felt off. It’s weird because Transcendence seems like it was his most popular album, but it just… wasn’t for me.
When he released Empath in 2019, I regained a little bit of hope about his musical direction. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an improvement on Transcendence and I thought maybe the next album would be a return to the form I enjoyed him most in. But it wasn’t.
Everything he has released since 2021 has been… lacking. Not in musical talent or anything like that because I will die on the hill of “Devin Townsend is the most talented musician to have ever lived”, but in the emotion his previous stuff had always evoked in me. The only emotion I felt listening to Snuggles, Puzzles and Lightwork was disappointment. And that’s not what you want from your favourite artist, is it?
So yeah, I’m mourning that loss. I can absolutely still listen to his old stuff and feel those feelings, but because I also have ADHD and music only generates so much dopamine before I need something new, I am craving new Devin music that does the dopamine AND emotional connection thing. It hasn’t happened in years and it sucks.
It’s not like I haven’t found replacements though. My favourite band now is Sumo Cyco, but they don’t release new music as often as I’d like so I’ve been distracting myself with Electric Callboy and Conquer Divide. But none of these bands do the same thing as Devin once did. Sumo Cyco gets me amped, Electric Callboy makes me happy, and Conquer Divide is great for the real serious stuff, but Devin did all of that on his own.
Anyone else out there have this same weird problem? When their favourites change musical direction or stop making music altogether and they’re left with a hole in their heart that can’t quite be filled in the right way? Am I just weird?