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Devin Townsend - Ziltoid the Omniscient CD (album) cover

ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT

Devin Townsend

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.20 | 407 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Negoba
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Make it Perfect...

Despite being a Devin Townsend fanboy, I had avoided Ziltoid until recently. The concept seemed too over the top, too silly, and though I like the new version of "Hyperdrive," the album just didn't appeal to me. However, I finally got tickets to Devy a few weeks ago and read that he was leaning heavily on the Ziltoid album. I decided to take the plunge so that I'd be familiar with the songs live. And I am so glad I did. Ziltoid may be Devy's best album top to bottom. It's the only album (possible exception Ocean Machine) that when the album's over, I want more.

Over the top humor has been part of Devin's artistic person all the way back to Punky Brewster and the first SYL album, but on Ziltoid he's able to unleash his silliness in its full glory. Part of the to-the-max aspect of this album is that there are sections that are VERY heavy, equaling SYL in many parts. "Ziltoida Attaxx!!!" is heavy riffing, programmed blast beats, and maniacal choruses in a perfect soundtrack to an alien invasion. (Check out the great youtube where this song is matched with the spoof movie "Mars Attacks" which likely helped inspire the album.)

But Ziltoid is not all-intense all-the-time. There are a remarkable variety of moods, often within the same song. By "Solar Winds" and the arrival of Captain Spectacular, the plot of the story starts to wander. But quickly we realize that Ziltoid is Devin's alter ego...the self proclaimed 4th dimensional guitar hero who at his heart is a nerd searching for his place in the universe. The textures and philosophical questions get deeper and more intense until Ziltoid meets the "Omnidimensional Creator" who answers the great query with "You gotta chill man." Like "It's just entertainment folks," in Earth Day, and "Cheeseburger" in the upcoming album Deconstruction, Devy chooses to bring it down to the here and now and reconnect with reality. This is part of why I as the listener, let him get away with such extremes. The humor is always partly directed at himself.

Devy's not the first artist to hide his genius behind a mask. But he may be the first one choose as his mask a puppet of a caffeine-junky alien. When the album climaxes at the end of "Color Your World" with alternating screams of "You are a puppet" and "We are all Puppets" all the angst and raw emotion that fueled SYL is full display. But at this stage is in his career, Devy contrasts this with soaring vocals singing "Stay with Me", matching the "So Beautiful" during N9, and of course the anthemic "Hyperdrive." The final song "The Greys" is a perfect example Devy at his best. Singing a soaring "Sail away for me" over a riff lifted almost directly from Metallica's version of "The Wait," Townsend evokes Enya more than thrash.

In another review, I recommended Accelerated Evolution as the perfect intro to Devy, as it had all of his elements in one album. And it does, but in the most listener-friendly version that is perfect as an introduction to his work. Ziltoid is the full breadth of Devy for the true fanatics of the man. Just as I had my reservations about the album, even now I wouldn't recommend it to listeners who have never heard Devin before.

Obviously, this isn't Terria or Ocean Machine. Both of those albums were created as intentional contrasts to Strapping Young Lad. But at this point in his career, Devy was done with SYL, and was able to integrate the two sides of his personality. And despite what seems like an impossible task, he pulls it off. The result stands as a third masterpiece in Devy's amazing catalog.

Negoba | 5/5 |

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