Chad Kroeger Is on Devin Townsend's New Album

'Empath' will also feature Steve Vai, Mike Keneally, Morgan Ågren and more

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Dec 3, 2018

This past August, Devin Townsend surprised longtime listeners in revealing his unexpected yet rewarding friendship with Chad Kroeger, and it turns out that "hanging out, playing guitar and talking" with the Nickelback frontman has led to him guesting on Townsend's forthcoming Empath album.

On Twitter last night (December 2), Townsend revealed that Kroeger would appear on the album, along with guitarists Steve Vai, Mike Keneally, Kiev-based orchestra Lords of the Sound, and frequent collaborators Anneke Van Giersbergen and Che Dorval.

While some people in Townsend's mentions were quick to dismiss Kroeger's involvement, more inquisitive minds asked further questions about what this collaboration would sound like. Townsend revealed that Kroeger features on "a tiny part in a brutal song," adding that the appearance is "more of a token of the conversations we've had than a significant part."

Townsend elaborated that Kroeger was important to Empath's process, explaining, "He represents something. Aside from the fact we get along, he represents something that I didn't understand, and the ramifications of those decisions. What it takes to be him is unrelentingly intense in ways I never would have anticipated."

Townsend also noted that Kroeger "is heavy as hell in a way I am not," adding, "To be simultaneously so successful and so hated is something few could handle. It's so far from what people like you or I could know that it holds an unbelievable intensity."

Townsend continued, "I think lots of musicians think it's easy to write commercial music, but upon interacting with someone who really knows how, I realize 'fuck... that's a talent. I can't do this stuff, he's just being him. I need to focus on being me instead of chasing what people ask of me now."

While Empath is currently in the mixing stage, Townsend has long been teasing snippets of the record on Instagram from recording sessions. Additional guests spotted in those posts include Anup Sastry (Monuments, Intervals) and Morgan Ågren, the latter of whom played with Townsend and Dorval on their 2014 self-titled LP as Casualties of Cool.

Vai first collaborated with Townsend in 1993, enlisting the Canadian for vocal duties on his Sex & Religion LP from that year. The two came together again on Townsend's 2006 LP Synchestra, with Vai contributing a solo to "Triumph." Vai also provided narration on Townsend's 2013 live album The Retinal Circus.

Van Giersbergen first collaborated with Townsend on 2009's Addicted! LP before going on to appear on 2012's Epicloud, 2014's Z2 and 2016's Transcendence. She also appears on The Retinal Circus and Townsend's 2012 live album By a Thread.

In addition to playing with Townsend as half of Casualties of Cool, Dorval has appeared on both Transcendence and Townsend's 2009 LP Ki.

While at work on Empath, Townsend has also been steadily rolling out a series of career-spanning vinyl box sets. He also delivered a new live album celebrating the anniversary of his Ocean Machine: Biomech LP.

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