Kingdom is one of two early Devin Townsend songs that was rerecorded for later albums. This was both a declaration of the importance of the older song, and an emphasis that it had been improved with the new. Originating on 2000’s Physcist (a largely poorly received work), Kingdom was brought back for the band’s most recent album, Epicloud in 2012. There is no question at all about it – the original is far superior to the Epicloud version. When I started this list I thought I might do a top 20 for Devin, given how good his songs are, but cutting back to 10 songs, it really seemed important that Kingdom made the cut. It’s heavy, very easy to get into, and is generally what I consider to be a feel good rock out with plenty of progressive elements. Devin Townsend has a lot of fun rock songs, and this is one of his best.
When I first got into Devin Townsend, Bastard was my favorite song for a long time. Sandwiched between other Devin masterpieces (Funeral and The Death of Music), Ocean Machine’s final tracks lifted an already good album to one of brilliance. Bastard is definitely progressive, hard hitting, and has some spine chilling moments towards the end of the song. Compared to his other classics, I think that the heaviness is just a tad diluted than later works such as Deconstruction and his best album, Accelerated Evolution, which would have really pushed the song forward. As it stands now it is one of Devin’s best songs, a masterpiece and to be only hitting number 9 of this list I’ve either seriously overrated some other songs here, or Devin Townsend pulled it off better eight more times.
8. Earth Day
Did not like this song at all when I first heard it, and it took an absolute tone of listens to get into. One of the reasons I might have been so persistent was that Earth Day (along with Deadhead) is hailed as a fan favorite and every time I search other fans’s top 10 Devin Townsend songs Earth Day nearly always makes an appearance. And for good reason to – because the song once you’re into it is sensational. When I first heard it I was caught between it’s offbeat weirdness, and too heavy vocals in places – but Devin certainly has done weirder and heavier and I’ve since grown to enjoy those songs as well. Earth Day is a bit crazy in it’s theme, celebrating the earth, and on the surface you could almost see this as Devin’s John Butler-esque moment with ‘mother earth’, if he wasn’t being so blatantly sarcastic. Just as awesome as Kingdom once found, this song stretches nine minutes in length, and in effect, adds plenty of substance.
7. The Greys
The Greys has been a fast rising song in terms of how I rate it compared to the rest. It’s the closing song to 2007’s Ziltoid The Omniscient, an album I thought was complete batshit madness the first time I heard it. While there are some semi-annoying tracks on Ziltoid, further listens into this album provided me with some of the absolute best songs in Devin Townsend’s entire discography. The dark, spacy feel to The Greys has rarely been replicated by another band, and when I think of the closest thing to this type of sound I’m thinking Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals and Smashing Pumpkins’s Adore, so that’s saying a HELL of a lot. Overall this song is just so dark and mysterious and that I can’t get enough of it.
Who would believe this only number six? Deadhead is an absolutely smashing heavy metal number, that is the stand out centerpiece of his best album Accelerated Evolution. The vocals on the entire album are phenomenal, but rarely has anyone ever come as good to singing as Devin does in the later stages of Deadhead. The song is again progressive, very heavy, but at the same time full of atmosphere and awesome guitar work, and Devin bleeds his heart out with the emotional vocals you can’t help join singing with him.
This was the song that made me want to listen to Devin Townsend. I’d previously been a fan of the song ‘Numbered’ which unusually didn’t have Devin singing but a female vocalist instead. I tried the album Addicted which Numbered is located on and gave up on it, thinking it wasn’t for me. Since then I’ve grown quite fond of that album, though no songs from it appear in this top 10 (nor would they appear in his top 20). Funeral is to Devin what 1979 is to Smashing Pumpkins. The riff of this song, the main chords going through it, is just so catching and awesome. It’s funny with these Devin songs how some become my favorite for a while, and then drop away after I grow sick of them. Bastard and The Death of Music (Funeral’s brother and sister) were at one point regarded as better than Funeral, same as Deadhead and maybe even another couple of songs. But Funeral consistently maintains its place as one of my favorite Devin songs. During Devin’s unplugged live album, he does an absolutely unique and mindblowing acoustic version of this song that somehow rivals the original, though I do prefer the original. When Smashing Pumpkins did 1979 they found a special, impossible to replicate magic, and that’s what Devin found in Funeral.
4. Solar Winds
From Ziltoid the Omniscient, the album had a few epic songs, but Solar Winds was by far the best. From the opening narration about some guy traveling on his starship, to the theatre like singing with impossibly subtle guitars churning in the background – the stage is set for a heavy rock out in progressive music. I feel this song is far more diverse and mature than songs from previous works Terria, Ocean Machine and Accelerated Evolution – as if he took everything he learned there and somehow was able to produce something much darker and awesome sounding that represented all three. It’s a grower, I will say that.
3. Planet Rain
For a while this was sitting at number one on my Devin Townsend list. When I first got into this song it just blew me off the earth, but strangely it hasn’t had a huge lasting appeal with me. It’s best saved in moderation I suspect. Still, this eleven minute sound blaster from the heavy metal Physicist proved itself to be an exceptionally crafted song, full of meaning and intenseness. Perhaps the closest Devin ever came to replicating Tool, the sound of this song is dimmer than his Accelerated Evolution material, but there is still so much going on that it doesn’t seem to matter. For me this song is just a wonderful journey that is as quirky as the title Planet Rain – you will feel as if you have visited such a place. From a critical point of view, this is perhaps his best structured song.
This addictive little number from Ziltoid The Omniscient has risen so high on my list that it now stands to me as his second best song. This song is only three minutes and forty eight seconds, making it the shortest on this list, but if there’s ever a song that proves quality is more important over quantity it’s Hyperdrive. Hyperdrive was the other song along with Kingdom that was redone for a later album, and at least with the new version they had the female vocalist singing and it had its own separate appeal. But there is, again, nothing stopping the original, as this dark, spacy affair thumps its way so hard into your skull you will think you are out there in the starship just like Devin’s fantasy characters. So easy to listen to and get into, this song is just unbelievably awesome.
And here it is. The best Devin Townsend song. It wasn’t easy to get here at all. When I first heard Storm when listening to Accelerated Evolution, it just sounded like a good song, nothing special. It’s under five minutes, so it doesn’t really stand out from anything else, but after a while I started to get into the song a bit more. Being that it’s off the same album as Deadhead, Storm actually faught it’s way to be considered as a ‘not as good as’ song like Deadhead. Sort of an appetizer for Deadhead if you will. But this song just kept persisting. I kept getting into it, into it, into it. It wouldn’t stop. Eventually, I didn’t want to listen to anything but Storm on repeat. At the time Planet Rain was still my favorite Devin song and then listening to the two back to back, I had to confess, my brilliant drawn out epic shambler could not match the addictiveness of this song. So there you have it. Storm is Devin Townsend’s best song. If you thought his singing was emotional at the end of Deadhead, he actually manages to exceed it here. It won’t be long before I listen to this song again to hear it all again. I hope you will listen to it too.
Honorable Mentions: Ki, Nobody's Here, Tiny Tears, Sunday Afternoon, Lady Helen