Devin Townsend Project at the Gothic Theater (12/13/2014)

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Saturday nights around Denver during the holidays are a sight to be seen. Between Zoo Lights, the Denver Botanical Gardens, skating at Skyline Park and the City and County Building Lights, there are many ways to start lasting traditions and make memories with loved ones.

Metalheads across the city ditched those plans to headbang with a space alien named Ziltoid the Omniscient as the Devin Townsend Project joined Animals as Leaders and Monuments for the Abstract Reality Tour, one of the biggest progressive metal shows to come to Denver at the Gothic Theater on Dec. 13, 2014.

Opening the show was Monuments, who are a young, well-rounded band that’s sure to entertain: melody, heaviness, growls, excellent clean singing, and even some elements of jazz. After releasing their sophomore record The Amanuensis this past June, Monuments began to take off in American progressive metal and djent circles.

While the mixing for Monuments started a little rough, the band was able to push through and continue to entertain a crowd that was largely unfamiliar. Despite issues from the house, their performance was spot on and they nailed it. After a solid set,  frontman Chris Barretto broke out a saxophone for a solo. Barretto was able to connect with each person in attendance to leave a lasting impression and while they might not have had a huge fanbase coming into the Gothic, they’ll leave Denver with quite a few new friends.

Devin Townsend of the Devin Townsend Project is making his long-awaited return to Denver, after catering to some of his other side projects such as the Casualties of Cool, who released their self-titled album earlier this year. Townsend has a long resume of musical acts, from getting his start performing with guitar legend Steve Vai, to his own thrash metal band Strapping Young Lad, to country/blues project The Casualties of Cool, back to progressive metal Devin Townsend Project, Townsend’s diversity and personality captivates from the minute he steps on stage.

The Abstract Reality Tour comes just over a month after a double-release from the Canadian rocker. On one side, a melodic, technical metal album that at times is hauntingly beautiful called Sky Blue, and on the other side, the sequel to the space opera about the Universe’s Fourth Dimensional Guitar Hero, Ziltoid the Omniscient entitled Z2: Dark Matters. While both releases starkly contrast each other, Townsend created two amazing works of metal to bring on this tour, and his charisma is one to match.

Starting the show with some of his older discography, DTP drew fans old and new alike in from his incredible sound quality. While he played quite a bit off of his new double feature, fans weren’t to be disappointed; both Sky Blue and Z2: Dark Matters were played meticulously. When he made the transition from the more serious Sky Blue to Dark Matters, fans were excited for the incorporation of Ziltoid. Most energetic of all played was the militant “March of the Poozers”. He ended his set with DTP classics “Grace” and “Kingdom”, reminding the audience of the messages of loving those around you, especially during the holiday season.

Animals as Leaders is a three-piece instrumental group that stuns the audience with mastery of their instruments. While their live set isn’t as interactive as others, it’s only because they let the music do the talking. The trio released The Joy of Motion in early 2014 and gained fame amongst a wider audience after touring with deathcore stars After the Burial, where they played at the Summit Music Hall in March. AAL seamlessly blends technical metal and jazz into verses without words in a way that’s shown to hold the crowd’s attention.

As a three-piece without a frontman, AAL isn’t your typical headliner, but lead guitarist Tosin Abasi was able to hypnotize the crowd. They structure their set list to sound like a CD playing through, and they’re one of the few bands that truly possesses studio quality in a live setting. Stage presence is something to be desired because of the nature of the band, but let the music speak for itself – close your eyes and listen.

The Abstract Reality Tour was a welcomed variation from the typical tours that make their way through the Denver scene, and the return of these three bands will be highly anticipated.

Rochelle Ball studies journalism and meteorology at Metro State University of Denver. In her free time, you can find her watching sports and studying clouds. She once finished a bottle of Cholua hot sauce in less than a week….watch out! Connect with her on Twitter – @DenverRochelle


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