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Devin Townsend - Ziltoid the Omniscient CD (album) cover

ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT

Devin Townsend

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.19 | 422 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Progmatist
4 stars "I am so omniscient, if there was to be two omniscientses, I would be both." This line, alone is deserving of five stars. In fact, there is little here holding this album from near perfection. Along with hilarious satirical humor, Devin gives us some of his best riffs, guitar textures, and climactic buildups to date. In this release, Devin demonstrates masterfully his ability to create moods and scenes through his music. We can actually see the battle about to take place between Ziltoid's army and the humans in the epic "By Your Command," and we can picture Captain Spectacular and his crew blasting through space in the atmospheric "Hyperdrive."

Perhaps even more important than his masterful soundscapes, it is the very unexpectedness of this album that makes it such an incredible accomplishment. While the latest releases from bands like DREAM THEATER and NEAL MORSE seem to sound like more of the same, Townsend gives us something uniquely fresh and exciting. Devin took some big risks with this album. Not only did he perform all of the instruments himself, but the very fact that he chose to devote himself to such a "ridiculous" concept was dangerous enough. I place "ridiculous" in quotes because the apparent ridiculousness of this concept can also be seen as an integral part of the genius of this album. With ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT, Townsend writes a story that is not only fun to listen to, but also meaningful in its own right. Throughout the album, Townsend makes subtle yet important comments on post-industrial society, current patterns in the "progressive" rock industry, the human experience, and the purpose of art, itself.

"Uh-oh, that Progmatist character's gonna start flapping about art." No need to worry: the message is right under our noses. There is little disagreement that an extra- dimensional alien invading the planet Earth for a good cup of coffee is ridiculous, perhaps even laughable (hopefully). But the brilliance of this work resides in the fact that Townsend is able throughout the music to suspend our judgment and elicit an emotional response. "Solar Winds" is a perfect example. As soon as the song starts, we laugh at the idea of a Captain Spectacular gazing introspectively out his starship window. But when the somber guitar melody hits us and Devin begins to sing beautifully about the reality of time, we forget that Captain Spectacular is on his way to expose Ziltoid as the nerd that he really is. Townsend has tricked us.

What does this say about the "concept albums" that we as proggers hold so near to our hearts? Can the concepts be meaningless? Are all ideas meaningless? Ziltoid would probably say, "Indeeeeed." Listen to the album to find out just how meaningful Ziltoid's "omniscience" really is in the end. With ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT, Townsend argues that the knowledge on which we humans pride ourselves may not be as powerful as we'd like to think. If knowledge really is power as They say, then why are we so easily fooled throughout this album to feel and even believe in the various parts of the story that we know to be utterly ridiculous? Could it be that in the end, we are all puppets? Ziltoid seems to think so, and he knows everything, right?

The Progmatist | 4/5 |

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