Heavy metal is guitar music . Sure , it ’ s also characterized by pounding drums , rumbling bass , and aggressive vocals , but at its core , it ’ s the guitar that makes metal music . With a strong and versatile metal scene in Canada , Canadian Musician decided to round up a group of our own shredders , from established , world-renowned players to new up-and-comers making a splash in the industry , to genre-hopping players who bring metal techniques into completely different styles . Our heavy scene has artists ranging from orchestral progressive metal , to nu-metal , to doomy sludge metal , and everything in between . There are always new sounds , styles , and techniques to be found with the electric guitar , and modern metal guitarists are some of the musicians pushing the instrument in new directions and giving it a brighter future , many of them right here in Canada .
Rising to prominence as the songwriter , vocalist , and guitarist for extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad , and followed by his uber-successful solo career since 2007 , Devin Townsend is easily one of the most esteemed metal artists Canada has ever produced .
CM : Can you walk us through a breakdown of your usual live rig ?
Townsend : For electric , I have my signature Framus guitars , D ’ Addario strings , Dunlop picks , and Axe-FX modelers [ from Fractal Audio Systems ] instead of actual amps . It ’ s been great for me . In fact , I ended up taking out an actual amp on tour and went back to the Axe-FX halfway through just for the sake of consistency .
CM : Do you have a specific practice routine these days ?
Townsend : Drink a lot of coffee and look at my guitar every now and then ( laughs ). I mean , most of my work is studio stuff and I ’ ve been super busy this year , not only pivoting my career , but there ’ s been a ton of new work . I ’ ve been doing these livestreams now and I ’ ve been working on this album that I ’ m about a week away from being done . So , the guitar has sort of been relegated to a background position … oh wait , that ’ s not true . I ’ ve got this cool piece of gear that got sent to me this year that I ended up writing tons with , and that ’ s the Line 6 Helix Floor [ modeler ], and Kiesel sent this headless guitar . And although I work with Framus as my main rig , it was a great couple of toys that came into my world . What I did was I set up these ambient sounds and I just watch TV at night and plunk away . I can ’ t imagine that I ’ m technically getting any better , but I ’ m producing sounds , which is my practice regimen at this point . music , but not in the sense where I listen to classical music that much or anything . But I love the flow of a piece of orchestral music where it has all these different dynamics and different vibes , but it morphs between these things as one continuous thought . But I guess I had always assumed that was done by some musical mind that I was separate from and can ’ t relate to , and that there was this way of writing orchestras that was like magic in a way . But what I started trying to experiment with was starting with an ambient jam or guitar track , orchestrate that and see where that leads you , and that ’ s led me to this project I have done this year called The Puzzle . I have no perspective on it right now , as to whether or not people are going to think it ’ s a load of shit , and there ’ s a good chance they will , but I think it ’ s awesome . And that
PHOTO : CHRISTIE GOODWIN
CM : When it comes to the production side , are there any new techniques or methods you ’ ve been trying out lately ?
Townsend : Yeah ; I ’ ve always been interested in symphonic
50 CANADIAN MUSICIAN