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Here's what happened when we invited metal musician Devin Townsend to do an acoustic set

Watch the metal maestro perform from his extensive catalogue for a Vancouver hometown crowd.

Watch the metal maestro perform from his extensive catalogue for a Vancouver hometown crowd

Devin Townsend performs a live one-man show in his hometown. (CBC Music)
There's nothing about Devin Townsend's casual manner and easy-going stage banter that would clue you into the fact that he is one of the most respected progressive metal artists on the scene. But when he starts to sing and play, it's clear the West Coast musician is a heavy musical force of nature. 

Townsend's first break came when, still a teen, he joined Grammy winner Steve Vai's band as lead vocalist on the 1993 album Sex & Religion. Now, more than 25 years and dozens of records later as a bandleader, Townsend has released his 18th studio album, Empath, via his label HevyDevy Records. It's an ambitious, genre-defying album with appearances by Elektra Women's Choir, Mike Keneally (a Frank Zappa alumnus), Vai and Chad Kroeger, among others.

This CBC Music session finds Townsend in a dramatically simplified setting of solo vocals and acoustic guitar performing for an appreciative, hometown crowd in Vancouver. It's a great introduction to the singer's artistry, with a decibel level that is perfectly acceptable to the metal-averse.

The set eases in with the introspective "Funeral," and progresses through different moods, ending with a not-to-miss medley that juxtaposes the angsty "Love" with the emotionally uplifting "Life."

Devin Townsend performs "Funeral" for CBC Music. 6:50
Devin Townsend performs "Coast" for CBC Music. 4:46
Devin Townsend performs "Hypderdrive" for CBC Music. 4:07
Devin Townsend performs "Ih-ah!" for CBC Music. 4:41
Devin Townsend performs "Love/Life" for CBC Music. 10:29