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Devin Townsend - Ziltoid The Omniscient CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal

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4 stars Lyrics are very funny......

"The dream of a bored or sleepy employee in a coffeeshop.Ziltoid`s earth invasion for coffee...." Maybe because of the story the music is not so dramatically intense than in Synchestra for example.

In the quality of the lasts DT albums but a little lighter and a little too short too.

This album is more psychedelic space rock a la Hawkwind`s conceptual albums .


Report this review (#122685)
Posted Friday, May 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is another one of those albums from Devin Townsend that at first you hate it. Then, you slowly begin to like it. Then you realize that it's a masterpiece. Unfortunately, people often rate it right when they listen to it, and often they are still in the stage of hating it. If you are about to review this album, please give it a chance! It may seem extreme at first, but you will get used to it eventually.

The first thing you will probably notice is that the lyrics are very "silly." They seem to be just odd sometimes. Townsend is very silly himself, but what causes this silliness is his sheer genius. It seems that most all that he touches(besides strapping young lad, yuck) becomes a masterpiece. This is certainly no exception.

The story begins with Ziltoid arriving at Planet Earth and demanding their ultimate cup of coffee(you can find this in the opening song, ZTO). When he is not please with the coffee he receives, Ziltoid decides to attack earth with his army and his secret weapon, the Planet Smasher (By Your Command and Ziltoidia Attaxx!!!). Captain Spectacular of the humans devises a plan to escape by exposing Ziltoid as a nerd and then jumping into hyperdrive towards N9 (Solar Winds and Hyperdrive).

Ziltoid follows and summons the 6th dimensional Planet Smasher in an attempt for victory once and for all (N9 and Planet Smasher). The 6th dimensional Planet Smasher rejects Ziltoid so he visits the Omni dimensional Creator to find out the true nature of his reality (Omni dimensional Creator), only to discover that he is a mere puppet in a show (Color Your World and The Greys). The album ends on the bombshell that this is all a daydream being had by someone working in a coffee shop who is awoken by his boss and given the customers orders including a Tall Latte (Tall Latte).

(some info taken from Wikipedia entry)

All in all, this is an outstanding album that should be listened to by all prog metal fans. Is this better than Synchestra and Terria? Ehh, hard to say. I personally would prefer Synchestra over this, however that certainly doesn't take away from this album.


Report this review (#122805)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazing album ! I'm giving 5 (4.5) stars and I'm going to explain why. First of all I haven't heard any other of this type of projects, so for me its something like unique. Secondly, the story that is told through all the album is interesting, funny and somewhere a little bit sad. Events that are happening are mostly introduced and accompaned by lyrics, but also all what's happening are very strongly presented by music and sound, so by listening you can imagine what's going on. For example where they are attacking (By Your Command, Ziltoidia Attaxx!), Hyperdrive and awesome song where they're summoning Planet Smasher (By the way his name is Herman and he hate musicals =])

Maybe its not so melodic as Synchestra but still this is awesome album ! I recommend this album to prog metal fans and of course to Devin Townsend Fans.

Report this review (#122960)
Posted Monday, May 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the final evidence of the incredible songwriting skills of Devin Townsend. Such an absurd premise (alien looking for fuel) turned into an epic story just by means of the music is a major achievement that only a man as disturbed an cunning as Devin Townsend is able to fulfill succesfully.

Fantastic melodies, heavy riffs, growls and humour are in perfect balance in this new album...

A must have for any fan of good music... this is a lesson on writing good songs without boring the listener... a lesson some people in Prog Metal have not yet learnt...

Since it has almost everything Devin has made during his carrer, "Ziltoid the Omniscient" could (in time) be one of his best albums... that is why I give it 5/5...

Report this review (#123400)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
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?

Report this review (#123567)
Posted Sunday, May 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I often think that progressive metal suffers from taking itself too seriously. If that is the illness, then Devin Townsend is the cure. Townsend proves that you can be serious about music without taking your own music too seriously, and that is exactly what makes Ziltoid the Omniscient such a good record.

The album is a sci-fi/comedy concept record, and makes me think that if Douglas Adams ever wrote a metal record, it would probably sound like this. The story follows omniscient alien Ziltoid on his quest to discover the universe's greatest cup of coffee (an endeavor I can sympathize with...) The music is very competent and tightly produced. The thing that strikes me most is the sense of drama, and Townsend's ability to change tempo at just the right time to make the music feel the story (silly as it is, it does have some drama). The music ranges from extreme metal that almost resembles black metal to a more calm, almost psychedelic sound.

This album is definitely recommended for those with a taste for extreme progressive metal, and anyone who has ever thought that prog metal is a bit too pompous and just needs to lighten up for once.

Report this review (#124027)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Trickster F.
4 stars ...and music? Well, it's just entertainment, folks.

This quotation taken from the most critically acclaimed album by Devin Townsend to date - Terria - may very well put his entire career in a nutshell for his many fans. Having created so much music throughout the last decade, Devin Townsend, or as his followers like to call him, 'Crazy Devy', could never be blamed for making his music sloppily, yet he always knew the best way to combine a thorough approach and a bit of humour in the process. Those who are familiar with any of his work do not need to be told that Devin has no problems with not taking himself too seriously, as Townsend's music always contains surprising, serendipitous twists, his lyrics possess a quality that often borders on the ridiculous and his on stage presence includes bizarre antics, such as insulting his fans in ways considered unacceptable by many "prog" musicians. His aficionados know better, however, than to be offended by Devin's remarks, as they have learned well to accept the duality of his extremely charismatic work and on stage presence.

Ziltoid The Omniscient is simultaneously a unique and an ordinary album for Devin Townsend. The first thing to notice is that no session musicians or group mates have been used for the recording process. When you listen to the album, remember that every note, voice and sound has been played, recorded and produced by the man himself. That should drop you a hint that this album may be considered the essence of his work, especially because several themes and parts of different composition have a strong sense of déjà vu about them, and a person familiar with Devin's work will notice affinities with his previous albums (both solo and as a member of Strapping Young Lad) as flashbacks are provoked in his memory. The compositions on the album vary greatly and range from short and heavy numbers closer to his SYL material, seemingly radio friendly, emotional and down-to-earth songs and great epics with changing themes and quirky, spacey melodies. The album, as one would expect from Devin, is achingly memorable (if talking about riffs and melodies, vocal lines and lyrics) and contains some of his catchiest material to date. However, while the music may not particularly flabbergast anyone who has before experienced Infinity, Synchestra and any of his SYL work, the lyrics department deserve their own place for description.

'Eccentric' and 'comic' are the first adjectives that instantly come to one's mind whilst describing this concept album's story and lyrical content. The story is irony-filled and could be considered a great parody of many things at once: the sympathetic character common to DT's albums, silly concepts in the Prog-Metal genre(Devin must be the only one in the 'scene' - if such even exists - who is fully aware that his story is not meant to be taken seriously), cheesy science fiction and Townsend's career as a whole. The entire story of a hostile omniscient alien Ziltoid threatening to destroy our planet is a daydream of a layabout who works at a coffee shop and entertains himself by imagining such ridiculous stories. In his dream Ziltoid The Omniscient (or, as proved later by the protagonist Captain Spectacular, The Nerd) finds an unusual excuse to make an attack by requesting the Earth's ultimate cup of coffee. Disappointed by the gift (Fetid! How dare they present this to me! Foul, they hide their finest bean. Attack! ), Devin proceeds to mercilessly decimate the planet's population. The story henceforth keeps getting progressively more difficult to follow until failure leads Ziltoid to bitter enlightenment about his role and existence. One has to listen to the album on his own to experience the story instead of reading about it in a review, hence my very brief description. Depending on your type of sense of humour, the concept may seem either hilarious, unusual or nonsensical.

In conclusion, Ziltoid The Omniscient is a delightful new release from Devin Townsend that should please every person who has already become a fan of his work. Furthermore, if you still have not introduced his music to yourself this may be the perfect album to do so, as the common traits of the man's music are all here, without making the album ordinary and predictable even for his standards. If, on the other hand, his previous work was not of any interest to you, it is very doubtful that this record will change your mind. All in all, when it comes to Progressive Metal that does not take itself too seriously, Townsend's new album is a winner this year, especially knowing that the latest Sigh album is unfortunately a dud.

It can be predicted that the artist's followers will receive his latest output very warmly, and silly lines such as I am so omniscient, if there were to be two omniscientses, I would be both! will turn classic extremely quickly. While I do not feel this album is exactly a masterpiece, it is completely worth your time all things considered.

A solid 4-star album.

Report this review (#124081)
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I really enjoy this album. It is basically a heavy metal puppet show gone audio, and it makes fun of itself by nature. Devin Townsend has produced a goofy, yet interesting storyline with some great metal moments! I especially love Planet Smasher, the hardest song on this disc. It has some great spacey rock moments (hyperdrive). The twist at the end is fun also. This is music that is not meant to be taken seriously, which is ironic because it is a very good piece of progressive metal. It provides some mixed thoughts and ideas, but hey, that's what Devin is good for, right? Definitely worth the cost of admission.
Report this review (#124127)
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Curse you Devin Townsend! I do my best to limit a band's five star ratings and to avoid fanboyism, but this is the fourth classic by this modern genius. Ziltoid serves as the perfect close to the first chapter of his career, as it combines elements of the biting humor of Punky Bruster, the heaviness of Strapping Young Lad, and the ambiance of his solo work. His recent break from touring only enforces that stage one is complete. Ziltoid the Omniscient is a relief from the self-serious mentality that pervades prog metal and prog in general. Over a span of four months Devin wrote, recorded, and mixed the album by himself. Every instrument is either played or programmed by the Dev. The drum programming is near perfect, using Thomas Haake's Drumkit From Hell. The result is insanely technical drumming that alternates nicely between inhuman (duh) blastbeats, and mid-tempo crashes.

Ziltoid is a loose concept album that follows the story of the fourth-dimensional Ziltoid as he threatens the Earth for the perfect cup of coffee. He does so by pummeling the planet with his mighty guitar. The concept shifts several times to include the plight of Earth's hero Captain Spectacular, as well as to poke fun at his own career. Highlights are hard to pick out, as they're all magnificent. By Your Command sets the stage of the album by alternating tempos, moods, and vocals and Devin switches from shrieks to clean, airy vocals on a dime.Ziltoidia Attaxx! is one of the heaviest songs ever written by Devin, which is saying something. Despite the zany humor, songs like Solar Winds offer some soul-searching lyrics amongst the barrage of metal and wit. Every character is sung by Devin using different voices. Colour Your World is the climax of the concept, and it features Devin unleashing his incredible and unique scream as Ziltoid breaks down. The Greys is the perfect closer. It has wonderful vocals, monumental yet beautiful guitars, thunderous drums, and the trademark Devin ambiance.

This stands as Devin's most complex work yet, but it's also one of his most accessible. The varying moods, vocals, and melodies are dizzying. It isn't flawless, but it's topped my list of favorite 07 releases. With this release, Devin Townsend has crafted prog metal's Thick as a Brick. It is an irreverent concept album that mocks all other concept albums and the self-serious attitude that pollutes nearly all of progressive rock. Just remember, don't take it seriously, because Devin doesn't.

Grade: A-

Report this review (#125665)
Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars What can be said about Devin Townsend that hasn't been said a thousand times before? The kooky Canadian has made some of the most brilliant, insane, and memorable metal and prog of the last decade. The man is undoubtedly a genius, but sometimes genius permits fallibility. Such seems the case with his new entirely solo full-length (written, performed, recorded, mixed, and produced by Devy).

The ideas all seem to be in place for what would make a classic Devin Townsend release: a massive range of vocals starting at a King Diamond falsetto and running through brutal death growls, a concept about an alien coming to Earth to secure the Omniverse's finest cup of coffee, characters named Ziltoid and Captain Spectacular, spacey acid rock guitar noodling, and Lombardo-worship drumming.

The problem is Devin's desire to take the album completely over the top, and succeeding a little too well. Everything is mega- amplified. Gang choir vocals, silly spoken parts in every song, and esoteric Canuck humor don't serve to enhance the recording; they merely hinder what are great basic song ideas by dressing them up with too much pretense. If Devin had stripped this album down to its core, it would have been one of the best prog metal releases of all time; the writing is that good. Unfortunately, he became so wrapped up in his Ziltoid character that the final product suffered.

Don't get me wrong, this space opera is good for more than just a few laughs, and will definitely have you banging your head and introspectively pondering at times. But it's just too over-the-top to listen to very often, and isn't relistening value the most important thing for an album? This is ultimately novelty metal, best enjoyed with a friend and/or a brew.

Report this review (#127657)
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Devin Townsend is a genious.

I have all of his albums,I've heard them and he is my favourite artist. I was afraid,that the album will be as great as the other records.Yes,it is.

The lyrics and the story is great,like a B cat. film,there's an alien,who wants to rule the universe.But,when he finds out,what the Earth like,he wants to be the greatest guitar hero,and he wants chicks. You should hear it. Devin played all the instruments in this record,except the drums.The drum sound is a bit raw I think,but you'll get used to.The albums always had a beautyful atmosphere,this has it too.

I'm not a good reviewer,you should listen it to yourself,every music-fan must hear at least 1 Dev album.

Report this review (#128786)
Posted Monday, July 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ziltoid hits you right from the start.

You know right where Devin is going and to true Devin fans, it is no surprise. When I heard the 1st two minutes of the album I just laughed. It's Devin being Devin- being silly and comical.

I guess you can call the album a "concept" album- but I doubt Devin would. (when you listen to the album- you'll hear the word NERD)

Blended in with the nice humor is excellent music- a bit heavy for Devin Townsend albums- Ziltiod is more reminiscent of his Strapping young lad albums at times- which is my only complaint. I enjoy SYL, but I will listen to SYL when I want some heavy devy.

As usual, there are some beautiful and sensual moments- as in any Devin CD- and this is where he really shows his talents. His voice and guitar playing are excellent and very unique. I highly recommend this CD is you enjoy Devin- BUT, if you are new to DT, don't start here- rather: Ocean Machine or Infinity. Not essential- (And not his best) but a great AND interesting listen.

Report this review (#129031)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album has really grown on me and nowadays I think it perfect. It's like an amalgam of everything Devin Townsend has done; Speed pop from Physicist, weirdness from Infinity, melody from AE and Oceanmachine, atmospheres from Terria and ferociousness from SYL. Here there is humour, seriousness, beauty & anger in the vocals. The music is extremely varied; soothing passages, blastbeats, catchy hooks and gripping riffs. Devin has delivered some of the best melodies ever. The music can alter swiftly into something completely different from just a moment ago. Devin grunts, sounds like a siren and gives his sincere & beautiful melodic vox. The music gets weird but not as weird as on some parts of Infinity. The lyrics are beyond weirdness but that doesn't matter,they can be funny. The spoken interludes aren't too long for my taste and many of them blend in with the music. Somebody mentioned it was reminiscent of Douglas Adams' Hitchikers guide. It also makes me think of Calvin & Hobbes animated comic sketches, the daydreaming space adventure ones. Two memorable moments(although the album is full of them): "Hyperdrive" sounds like a mix of Christeen(Infinity) and Sit in the mountain(Christeen EP). I would call it calm metal. On "Omnidimensional creator" Dev uses melodies from albums Ocean machine and the New black(SYL). Only Devin nerds like me will figure that out. The song is my absolute favorite of the album. After some cool harshness the song slows down & the technical melodic Dev guitar mingles with his mesmerizing voice. Then it closes with some fast riffing and melodic singing and the goes to another brutal chapter in the finish. "We are all puppets!" Devin reinvents himself everytime! Most varied release. A classic. His best album since Terria and probably on the top 3 for me.

I wonder why there are no lyrics on the booklet for Hyperdrive? Maybe they didn't fit into the theme?

The limited edition has extra messages from Ziltoid and Dev showing his gear(multimedia)

Report this review (#134233)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
5 stars A fabulously heavy, tongue-in-cheek DT entry which will easily catch the listener up in both its dramatic theatrics and unstoppable metal melodies-- "Ziltoid" is outstanding!

Townsend's vocal/guitar performances are amazing, as he portrays a cast of cosmic characters and their galactic guitar-wielding odyssey across the universe with his distinctive flair. But what really steals the show is the absolutely over-the-top songwriting, which is so utterly dead-pan serious and intense that the comical lyrics and premise will leave the listener threatening destruction to feeble humans everywhere-- not to mention attempting to summon the Planet Smasher in fits of omniscient pretension. "Ziltoid" is as essential as it gets.

Songwriting 5 Instrumental Performances 5 Lyrics/Vocals 5 Style/Emotion/Replay 5

Report this review (#137923)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Devy's crowning achievement

This album, alleged to be Mr. Townsend's last (at least for a good while) is a culmination of all his projects over time, and it serves to come together in the best way possible. His trademark atmospherics are present throughout, as well as contrasting dynamics. In addition, Devin made it a concept album, about an alien who comes to Earth in search of the universe's ULTIMATE cup of I'd elaborate more on the silly lyrics but it's really best for one to read it themself, so I'll focus on the music instead. Overall, the heaviness of the album is about where it was on Terria, though a few more SYL-like moments are present. As for the drums, Devin programmed them Tomas Haake's (of Meshuggah fame) "Drumkit from Hell" pre-programmed drums, so you'll have a general idea of how brutal the drum sound is for the album. A few songs seem to reference his previous works in feel. For example, Hyperdrive reminds me stylistically of "Night" from his Ocean Machine album. Also, he even quotes the SYL song "Wrong Side" in the first section of "Color Your World". All these combine to really make the album about him, it's almost a summary of the person in music form (He actually has stated the the characters and plot of ZTO are parodies of himself and his life). As per usual, Devin has layered the crap out of this album, with tons of soaring harmonized vocals and his trademark massive multiple guitar layering attack really makes you feel encapsulated in the music itself. Songs like "Color Your World," "Ziltoidia Attaxx!!", and "Planet Smasher" are some of the heaviest solo material he's recorded. Conversely, Solar Winds for the first half is much more atmosphere based. Another thing to merit is that throughout the album Devin maintains a great sense of musical melody (except for the parts that are pointlessly heavy like Ziltoidia Attaxx!!, though that song seems to be a parody of SYL, which ironically is itself supposed to be a parody of metal...listen to the solo in it and you'll understand). Overall, I wasn't sure if I was going to even like this album when I bought it, and now its my favorite release by him. From the epicly overdramatic intro ZTO to the shocking twist of a conclusion of the album's concept at the end, Ziltoid the Omniscient really is a great record.

Report this review (#142400)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Devin is a very clever person. He’s such a smart a…guy. Smart-a-guy. Yes, this is what exactly I wanted to say – INDEED!

First of all, he has freed himself from any responsibility when it appeared that ZTO is a concept albums’ parody. It means, if you just dislike it, there’s a reason for anyone to call you a close-minded snob, who failed to see the mocking idea and takes everything far too serious. Second, this album is a funny stuff; hence it summons positive emotions (to a listener), which are going to be mistakenly taken as a positive reaction on an album itself - INDEED! Is he kinda psychologist or something?

Down to album. It’s fun – INDEED! – but it fails to be as much amusing as Canterbury stuff or head-blowing NANOWAR / BEATALLICA guys. In fact, it’s too serious and well-elaborated musically (except for bonus CD with 15 minutes of “dreadful” material, as the almighty Ziltoid claims), even despite the fact of “one-man-band” situation here (kudos to DrumsFromHell, my faithful helper in my own music!), but due to jerky lyrics I refuse to take the whole thing seriously. Is this what the author wanted? INDEED! Or maybe not - because every time you’re about to start noticing some really funny stuff, Devin turns to more serious and Prog sides. Man, there should be no compromises: clown ‘till the end or serious all the time, no 50/50! Hence I’m rather disappointed; this is my first encounter with anything Devin-related and I doubt that I’d pick anything from his stuff soon – INDEED!!!

Report this review (#142728)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Prepare yourself for the subjugation!

Do you know what subjugation means? Ziltoid apparently does, but I don't. Apparently some 'deep-filosophical' term thought by the omniscient Ziltoid. Stupid me didn't even know the meaning of 'omniscient'. What I do know is that this album is awfully funny and that Devin has been extremely creative making it.

Funny isn't the only thing 'ZTO' is. It has many great thrilling prog-metal songs on it, that are catchy, but at the same time need quite a few listens to make them digest properly. In typical context this music wouldn't of course work so fabulously, but as the album 'doesn't let you take it very seriously' the musical experience here can be taken 'easily', making it an exciting experience in a relaxed way and I for one enjoy it very darn much. There is sheer beauty and crushing power here, and most of it is expressed in some kind of naive, but very pleasant way. Space-rock type of mellower, quite beautiful songs progress into heavy-melodic enthrallingly-structured tunes. And the story! The story-line is truly marvellous, with much a lot of mockery and very funny stuff.

Inside the booklet, we can read, that the idea of Ziltoid was 'conceived' by Devin at about the age of 8. This probably makes the story have a warm 'childish' 'feel' to it, that I recognize listening to 'ZTO'. The naive, warm, maybe nostalgic sense about the story adds value to the album quite much in my eyes. The main or most easily comprehended aspect of the narrative is that it is a parody to concept-albums, but there is a few more sides to it I feel. Aside from mocking 'deep' conceptual albums, this album has a real, if not deep, then at least acceptable and enjoyable, maybe even enlightening concept in it, but I won't explain it any more, if you're interested, better find out what I'm talking about for youselves.

In a few words, I feel the story isn't just plain mockery and funny stuff, there is real 'feeling' and thought in it. It's the same with the music as well. The music isn't serious, it isn't just for fun and it's prog as a really prog thing. For me, this album has many layers and besides the wonderful musical experience, it gives me a sense of joy in other ways as well.

As far as I'm concerned, a masterpiece.

On a (quite meaningless) scale of five stars, I would rate it 4,7. And that's a really good rating.

Report this review (#142734)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Crow
5 stars I was really afraid before approaching this album...

The concept was a little silly, and the fact that Devin made this album alone, without extra help, made me be a little skeptical about the quality of the music included here... But after the first listening, all my fears were completely erased! This is just another incredible piece of work, and maybe the funiest alum that Mr.Townsend made... Uhhmm, well... This is probably one of the funiest albums I've ever heard!

The music included here is like a compilation of the whole Devin Townsend's career... We can hear ultra heavy passages on the vein of Strapping Young Lad (By Your Comand, Color Your World...), pop-metal songs approaching the style of "Ocean Machine" and "Accelerated Evolution" (Hyperdrive, The Greys...), evocative and beautiful parts on the vein of "Terria" or "Synchestra" (Color Your World again, Solar Winds...), ultra fast death metal hymns similar of the songs included in "Physicist" (N9, some fragments of Color Your World and Planet Smasher...) But of course, the innovation and the originality that Devin Townsend gives to every release, are still here...

This album can be taken like a self-tribute (the song Color Your World has some fragments of some others Devin's songs, for example...) but it's far from beeing repetitive after listening all the Devin Townsend's works... Thanks the amount of originality of the concept. The history here is surprisingly well recounted, and both the dialogs and "special effects" make this album a new experience for the Devin Townsend's fans, very funny and exciting to listen. And the music, of course, has a lot of new elements never heard before in any Townsend's work. Along with "Synchestra" and "Terria", this is the proggiest album he ever made... I'm still astonished of the capacity of this man of renewing himself realease after realease... But the quality of his music is the only fact that is always here!

Conclusion: another masterpiece from Devin... The funniest album he ever made, and a really really catching piece of work. I will never be tired of hearing it... If you are still skeptical about the quality of this album, give it a try... You will not regret! But you must be prepared to hearing the amount of variety and originality of this music, so you should open your mind before doing that... If you have heard some of the other Devin's albums, you should know that his music is not very conventional, and this is just another crazy carousel... If you don't know the work of this man, this is definetely an excellent point of entry!

My rating: *****

Report this review (#146709)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's official: Humor does belong in music!

I went into the store with a bit of apprehension. The problem: If I didn't like this Ziltoid nonsense, I would just have thrown about twenty bucks down the drain. I had never even heard of Devin Townsend before listening to Ayreon's The Human Equation. I happened to take to the guy's screaming (something I don't usually find attractive) in "Day Sixteen: Looser." I saw the high-star reviews for this album on ProgArchives, yet I hesitated. It was a very difficult purchase, because I had absolutely no idea what it would sound like or what the concept was. In a typical predicament as such, I usually wait until I get a review form a close friend. I had nothing to go on.

That being said, I popped it in, and I laughed. I laughed very hard. Devin puts the fun right into the middle of Music. (muFUNsic?) Devin is not plagued by him taking himself too seriously. He clearly enjoys what he is doing, and he wants everyone else to take that same joy in his ideas as he does. The absolutely hilarious storyline (it's refreshing to find humor in knowing that the very thought of an omniscient, finite being is a metaphysical impossibility) is told alongside some pretty rocking riffs and very innovative, cool sections.

Among the coolest sections on the whole album occurs in "By Your Command" at 3:30 after some ear-bleeding guitar sections cool off into a section of almost space-rocky-ness (sic?). Devin's voice gets very pure and crisp while the guitar flutters behind him in a happy manner. Another pretty awesome part is when Ziltoid plays his guitar for us all in "Ziltoid Attaxx," saying "I am the greatest guitar player to have ever lived." The simply absurdity of a omniscient alien playing guitar while he attaxx Earth is hilarious and very well done. The humor is well-played, right alongside the great music.

The twist at the end is so extreme that I cannot even say it for fear of ruining the experience for all of you. This is a extremely fun and well-written album. Easily 4 stars. Your collection isn't lacking without it, but it would certainly add a nice, fresh flavor!

Report this review (#152966)
Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is a great album from Devin. I am a big fan of Strapping Young Lad and to a leaser extent Devin Townsend Band. Ziltoid takes the best from both bands and combine it to a masterpiece of progressive music. The mellow atmospheric parts from Devin Townsend band and the raw heaviness from S.Y.L. are present throughout the album.

Devin plays everything on the album. The drums are not played by Devin though, he has programmed them using the Drumkit from Hell software that Meshuggah also used of Catch 33. Of course you can hear that the drums are not played by a human being, but this really comes close. Gene Hoglan has had a similar sound on some of his recordings both with Death and Strapping Young Lad. The click track that many heavy metal drummers use on their bassdrums sounds really artificial anyway. Bottom line is that this shouldn´t scare you away.

The ridiculous lyrics are really funny, almost Zappa like. I won´t tell the story here, just point out that this is a concept album and a really humorous one.

Everything just clicks here, I really love this album. I would recommend this album to anyone. People who have listened to Strapping Young Lad and found it too heavy and people who have listened to Devin Townsend band and found it too atmospheric, should try this one out. The combination of the two genres just rocks. This is really great. Devin really outdid himself on Ziltoid the Omniscient.

A little funny thing for the fans is the Zappa like conceptual continuity in the song Color Your World. 27 sec. into the song there is a little melody piece from the middle section of the Strapping Young Lad song Wrong Side from the latest ( Last ?) album "The New Black". What a brilliant move and another sign of Devin´s genious. I hope he will keep this style for couple of album, allthough I doubt that Devin will agree on my request. The next album will probably be something completely different. But on the other hand that´s the fachinating thing about mr. Townsend isn´t it ?

Report this review (#153638)
Posted Sunday, December 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I first heard Ayreon's The Human Equation album, I was intrigued by a number of the voices that I heard on it, Devin Townsend's being one of them. To be honest, I was a bit intimidated to delve into his discography because I thought his speed metal tendencies might not be to my taste. But after reading a couple of favorable reviews of this album with the silly name, I thought it might be time to give the Canadian hard rocker a try.

Well, I'm sure you've already noticed the number of stars I have given this album, so I think it's obvious what I thought. Surprised...Stunned...Amazed. This album left me speechless. Are all of those voices really Devin's? This is a fabulous album in the prog metal genre.

Things start off with a searing speed-metal introduction to the concept's main character, Ziltoid. I love this start for a number of reasons. First, the music and the concept quickly let the listener know that this is going to be a tongue-in-cheek musical, with quality humor and even higher quality music. Second, the very first minute of music incorporates much of what makes this album so nice: impressive speed metal sections combined with richly layered vocal tracks, another fine rendition of Townsend's patented "wall of sound."

I especially enjoy the more melodic parts of this album which can be found in the tracks "Solar Winds", "Hyperdrive", "Color Your World" and "The Greys" with these latter two songs being my favorite part of the album as there is a huge build-up and a very dynamic finish in "Color Your World" with the "Creator of the Omniverse" screaming at a defeated Ziltoid that "WE ARE ALL PUPPETS!", only to fade out with the beautiful closing in "The Greys."

Well done Devin! Thanks for singing on The Human Equation as it would have taken me much longer to find out about you. This is definitely a prog metal masterpiece worthy of five stars.

Report this review (#161525)
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars And now an album review from the mighty Ziltoid.

Greetings humans, I am Ziltoid...the omniscient. I have come from far across the omniverse to present this album review of my latest recording. While I am writing this you shall fetch me your universe's ultimate cup of coffee... Black! You have five Earth minutes.

The first part of this conceptual masterpiece makes one very important observation. That I, Ziltoid is so omniscient that if there were to be two omnisciences's I would be both! Then the music kicks in at break neck speed on 'By Your Command'. A song that is guaranteed to blow your head off.... twice! Prepare yourselves for the subjugation! This track features brilliant time sig changes, progtastic lyrics and ambient levels of scintillating soundwave effects and did I mention the breakneck drum patterns? It is during this mindwarping song that my commander comes before me and I ask him, Have the humans delivered their ultimate cup of coffee? I sip it and my reaction is one of disgust! Fetid! How dare they present this to me! Foul! They hide their finest bean! Prepare the attack! The metalicious riffs ominously pound as if some machine were stalking searching for prey. And the musical mayhem continues.

But my commander tells me some bad news. The humans are preparing themselves for the attack! But I do not flinch and reply. Excellent! Have you prepared.the Planet Smasher? And the Planet Smasher is prepared to crush the puny planet. The human with the funny American War voice states: Now listen here men! We represent the planet Earth! I want no heroes! They are coming over the horizon as we speak! We gotta be ready to take them down! Hold your position men! Do not fire until I tell you to fire! Have you got that? The troops yell as one, Yessir! Captain Spektacular is ready to attack.

'Ziltoidia Attaxx' thrashes from the speakers and absolutely drives headlong with monster guitar riffing and huge wall of sound symphonic blasts. It has to be heard to appreciate its full metal onslaught.

'Solar Winds' slows things down indeed and is a beautiful prog classic. Then 'Hyperdrive' and 'N9' bring things up to speed with massive time signature changes and killer riffs to die for!

But, I, Ziltoid, feel like a good bit of entertainment.time to destroy the planets. Which one shall it be? This one? No.too feeble. This one.yes, perhaps. Yes. This one shall do nicely. Commander. Divert all the power from the main engines to the front guns and take ninety percent of the surplus power and divert it toward the sonar awakening device. We must summon the 6th dimensional planet smasher, I feel like a bit of fun.Summon him.

The Planet Smasher awakes and screeches, Who dares awaken the planet smasher! My reply is as strong as it needs to be, It is I, the 4th dimensional Ziltoid the omniscient! 'Planet Smasher' rips out unmercifully. It is an absolute thrash metal frenzy of relentless drumming, a barrage of choppy metal riffs and megablasts of bass and beyond. A metal feast.

This is followed by other classics such as 'Color Your World' and 'The Greys.' These two amazing songs are beautifully produced, well-sung psychedelic and memorable songs. In fact all the songs are memorable... indeed!

But the bonus disc is a real let down - Dreadful music... phooey and double phooey!

When you first hear my album you may find yourself resisting its quirky humour and Monty Pythonesque absurdity... but it will grow on you... mark my words, humans.... it will grow on you like a fungus from Ziltoidia! And when it does, as your head hits the pillow you will not be able to get these metal riffs and mellow melodies out of your heads. It will haunt you day and night. You will be subjugated indefinitely.

Don't believe me? Foolish humans. I will have my revenge.... You will be subjugated. But suddenly, I feel so.vulnerable. You have not seen the last of me! You have not seen the last of Ziltoid!

Report this review (#178651)
Posted Saturday, August 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album would be more impressive if I hadn't listened to other Devin Townsend and Strapping Young Lad music before.

In all, it's a particularly fun release. The humorous concept scores a whole lot of points with me. Everyone loves aliens, and everyone loves crazy aliens who threaten to destroy the world. Devin, who to me always has a remarkable sense of humor, pumps out gags and laughs that don't detract from the album in the slightest. Rather, the music is almost more interesting when you know it's about an alien who calls himself Ziltoid the Omniscient. The music is a cross between Devin's solo work and Strapping Young Lad, which is a strength to some and a weakness to others, like me. As such a strict fusion of the two, Devin puts his usual sense of adventure and creativity on hold. Most of the creativity seems to be put into the lyrics, not a bad thing, just not as lasting quality wise.

Something in this music strikes me as something you'd hear in a video game (though a very strange video game). Somehow, and I can't tell you how, Devin uses intense metal to capture a classic science fiction feel. Arjen Lucassen should take notes. Vocally, there is less singing on this album than on Devin's other solo projects, using a sort of melodic screaming that crops up often. The only thing is, this time he screams like that for most of the album. When he sings, it's wonderful, though. And when he death growls on Planet Smasher, it's probably the wisest and most clever use of growling in any song ever. Even listeners who don't really like death metal aren't terribly turned off by this. I think, though, on the whole, the major weakness of the album is the missing melodies throughout. Some points demand a bit more clever melodies and parts, but just get screaming or a standard vocal line instead.

In all, hey, this is a good release. I still enjoy it. However, it's only an average album, especially by Devin's standards. The sound dynamics are down, while the walls of sound are less frequent or impressive. Fans of Devy will love it. People who don't know his stuff can start with it. A good meeting point for all his stuff, but as a meeting point, it's less interesting and exciting as a whole.

Report this review (#184313)
Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars For any progressive metalhead, (who can enjoy comic as well as serious moments) this album is for you!

I'll be honest, I'm pretty sure a lot of the old progressive lovers from the 70s will not really find its humour very interesting, and the fact that it's very heavy metal. So before buying this I stress that It's very quirky and humourous and heavy... it kinda reminds me of weird movies like Mars Attacks! or something like that.

And yet, I have a lovely appreciation for humour and I absolutely love blending humour in with serious stories. I write my own series of stories in fact, that are very similar to this album: blend both humour with futuristic science fiction and fantasy stories.

I have only listened to it once, about half an hour ago, and I have enough confidence still, to give it a five. The way I enjoyed it, I would give it a 5, personally, but I understand there are people with different tastes out there, so I labeled it 4... although seriously I think the progarchives rating should be 1-10, so I can label it a 9. A lot of people really don't like Devin Townsend just because of his style. But I certainly do.

The story is, from what I listened to half an hour ago, about an alien overlord named Ziltoid the Omniscient, who travels to earth from planet Ziltoidia search for the universe's ultimate cup of coffee. When he demands the coffee and the humans give it to him, he despises the taste and sets in motion an interplanetary war with the earthlings, who are led by General Spectacular. And some other things happen, I don't quite remember as much, but I remember the evil Ziltoid planning to destroy planets, and speaking with the Omnipotent creator, who sounds like a stoned out hippie in my opinion. XD

Really, I just clicked on ZTO the song, just as like a little teaser, but I was going to listen to something else after just getting a taste... but after that, well it just sucked me in and kept me going for however long the album is and I never pressed the stop button until it had totally finished. The ending is quite humours, might I add.

Heavy Metal. Space rock Opera. Comedy. Progressive rock. Devin Townsend. It's all amazing, go for it!

Report this review (#202731)
Posted Saturday, February 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Ziltoid The Omniscient' - Devin Townsend (8/10)

The mad scientist of metal is at it again with this humorous and satirical delve into what can only be described as a form of comedic Space Operatic prog. Devin Townsend weaves a tale in 'Ziltoid The Omniscient' of a self-conceited alien being that seeks coffee to fulfill his time-travelling desires. In taking over earth (with his virtuosic guitar skills) a rebellion is formed, led by Ziltoid's nemesis, Captain Spectacular. While the plot is obviously not meant to be taken seriously, the music (at points) can be extremely beautiful and powerful.

The music is best described as a heavier version of the typical Devin Townsend band work, mixed with a dose of Devin's extreme metal band, Strapping Young Lad. There is some very heavy material on this record. 'Ziltoidia Attaxx!!!' is bone-shattering, to say the least, and Devin's screams have never sounded better in any of his work then on 'Ziltoid.'

The ironic thing about this album is despite its considerably high rating, it was recorded in Devin Townsend's living room! There's a real sign of talent when someone doesn't even have to leave the confines of their house to write something so entertaining. However, it is this fact in which the albums suffers the most. For the most part, the production quality is fine; while it doesn't match up to the Devin Townsend Band material in terms of sound quality, all things considered, it's very good. The thing that bothers me about this album though is the fact that all of the percussion is played by a drum machine, and not a living, breathing human being. While purely musically, things are fine and the compositions are great, the album would have just that much more power if it used real musicians. Drum machines should be left as a jam tool, not a band member.

One song that really seems to stand out is the laid-back 'Hyperdrive.' Despite it being consisting of a pretty simple guitar riff, and garbled vocals, it creates such an amazing atmosphere and feeling of loneliness, as if the listener really is travelling through the coldness of space.

While releases like 'Terria' and 'Ocean Machine' have more of an immortal quality about them, 'Ziltoid The Omniscient' is actually one of my most initially enjoyed albums, and demonstrates that you don't have to write serious music, to be serious about music.

Report this review (#205590)
Posted Friday, March 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although it might be the humour and the zany concept which attracts the eye, the musical depth of Ziltoid is what os the real dealbreaker here. I really think this is Townsend's best album since Terria, in fact it's pretty much on a level with Terria. This is a far tighter album than either Synchestra or AE, and filled with as much musical invention as any of Townsend's albums I can think of. The two really standout numbers, Solar Winds and Color Your World, are just about as fine as any songs of similar length I can think of. The greatest strength of this album, however, is just that; it is an album, it stands on its own as a cohesive unit. There is a great amount of pacing and balance to be found, far more so than in Synchestra, which dragged at times. Here the pace is pretty much relentless. If you are willing to look past the goofiness, there is so much depth and strength of emotion within this record. One of the albums of the year along with Si pt. ii and FoaBP.
Report this review (#209981)
Posted Friday, April 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Make it perfect...

And perhaps Devin did. This is another classic album from one of metal's most experimental artists. It is very thick and heavy, noisy with hints of amazing melody interspersed throughout. The concept (yes it is a concept album) is laughable, but as it should be. The humorous lyrics and story elements add to the overall charm of the album, rather than work against it.

The songs tell the story of Ziltoid searching for Earth's greatest cup of coffee, with a twist ending. The space adventure leads us into a lot of powerful songs. The opener is right out of a 50's Sci-fi movie, with Ziltoidia attaxx being immensely smashing and hammering. The songs sometimes take a Pink Floyd-meets-Richard Wagner at times, always with a metal rod stabbed into the mix. The spoken word interludes are hilarious at times I am so omniscient, if there were two be two omniscients, I would have to be both.. This humor might not translate well to some folks, but it is a really fun thing to experience.

I can't give this album 5 stars, even though I really want to. Some of the songs sound a bit samey in the beginning, It is not as complex as his other works, and the humor isn't for everyone. But I could slap four stars on this any day, easily.

Report this review (#210833)
Posted Thursday, April 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ziltoid the Omniscient

I've seen flashes of this strange artwork before on PA but lately I wanted to know what kind of music this was. Since my quest for '70 prog started I haven't listened to progressive metal for years. It doesn't do it for me anymore. But... This trash/psychedelic metal album I like very much!

The reason for the great effect of this recording is the concept. A storyline with characters somehow gives the music a destination. A lot of groups made better concept albums then non-concept albums. Devin Townsend did a well job here. His characters are made in a way you can't get them out of your head! He played all the instruments and sung all vocals of all the characters.

First we have Ziltoid the Omniscient (whatever that may be). He is a fourth dimensional alien coming to earth to get the perfect cup of coffee in order to be able travel trough time. He claims to be the greatest guitar hero. He is the main character in the story. His war on the earth and the humans (who won't give him his coffee) kind of fails. The Humans flee with their hero Captain Specteculair with the Solar wind in Hyperdrive to Nebual 9. On this planet they defeat Ziltoid. This makes Ziltoid discide to call the Planes Smasher (named Herman). Herman won't comply because he hates musicals. Being confused by this event Ziltoid (the Omniscient) goes the Omniversial Creator (a strange kind of hippiej). Ziltoid ask him what he really is. From this point the conversation gets philosofical. Your own interpretation of the lyrics can make this part very worthwile. Are we all just puppets?

If you read this you will be convinced this ain't a very serious story, but hilarious! Still all emotions in the music make you able to let you fantasy work and you'll feel the problems of the characters. The fact that's it's so fiction will free you from your everyday concerns. You just listen to the story and music. A good look at the lyrics are essential here.

The sound of this record is very harsh trash metallike. The musical themes are very progressive however. The guitars change ritmes fast and sound a bit dreamy. It's spacemetal, but it doesn't sound like a computer game like most spacemetal projects. It's perfectly played. The recording is a bit to extreme though... It could have been more subtle. The drums are electronic. This is a pitty. Why not just hire a good drummer? For the production and drums this album could never be a five star album.

The concept is perfect, fresh I would say. The recording is good enough. The effect on me is huge! Since I got this cd I listened to it twice a day. This never happened to me before because I normally dislike cd's and listen to vinyl. So... I solid four star album with an extremely five star feel however...

P.S Beware... this will stick like glue on your memory! Ziltoid the Omnischiet will become your way of life! Don't forget to see his messages he sents to earth on youtube.

Report this review (#212196)
Posted Thursday, April 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is hard for me to put into words, which might be why I put off a review of it for so long. For me, this is THE Devin Townsend album, and hence one of my favorite albums ever. Devy has stated that his main goal with ZtO was to prove to himself that he could make an album that was truly a solo effort. He has also said that it helped lead up to the process of the Devin Townsend Project, which to date of this review is halfway there. It seems to be shaping up quite nice.

But I digress. On to the album!

This is a mix between Devin's solo material and the heaviness of Strapping Young Lad. Some may be put off a bit by the mechanical sound of the drum program, but I think it works for this music. It also happens to be the Drumkit from Hell program, created by Tomas Haake of Meshuggah. This also happens to be a concept album which tells the tale of Ziltoid seeking the greatest cup of coffee ever from quite a hilarious perspective. There are also several different moods throughout the album, from the long epic narratives of "By Your Command" and "Color Your World" to the short, catchy, pop-ish songs of "Ziltoidia Attaxx!!!" and "Hyperdrive". I really can't think of any song that is weak of the bunch, except maybe "Solar Winds" which bores me for the first 2 1/2 minutes or so, picks up a bit, then drops back down until 4 minutes when it builds again for good. The track feels somewhat inconsistent. I also think the vocals for "Hyperdrive" are cold and lack emotional power, and they ultimately make the song quite passable for me. I'm honestly glad Devy re-made a version of it for Addicted!, but I will discuss that in the respective review. This is definitely heavy music, and probably a bit too heavy for some, but for others it may be quite enjoyable. I'm glad to see, or rather hear, Devin draw more on some of his classical and Broadway influences for this album. I wish he would draw on them more often, because they really do lead to good things when he applies them in more than just structural ways. There's lots of ambience and maybe a touch of the humor from Punky Bruster too.

If you don't like Devin Townsend any, this isn't the album that will make you like him. But for those who already do, this is another fine musical gem for the man's collection. 5 stars.

Report this review (#254647)
Posted Sunday, December 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars And they greys float our memories, In the long haul...

This was my first and so far only Devin Townsend-experience and it's definitely an interesting ride from start to finish. The composition vary in quality and there are a few that I definitely could have done without. I'm not sure that I can say much about the concept of Ziltoid The Omniscient except that it's probably the weirdest story I've ever heard of. I do realize though that its a humorous concept which by no means should be taken seriously and the ending really makes me chuckle every time I hear it.

My biggest complaint about this release are the drum machines that I just don't consider to fit Townsend's sound although it was some of the better sounding drum machines that I've heard over the years. Ultimately its the composition quality that makes me settle for the good, but non-essential rating. Still I am definitely willing to hear more from Devin and it would especially be interesting to hear an album where the concept is matched by his great musical ability.

***** star songs: The Greys (4:15) Tall Latte (1:03)

**** star songs: ZTO (1:17) By Your Command (8:09) Solar Winds (9:46) Hyperdrive (3:47) Planet Smasher (5:45) Color Your World (9:44)

*** star songs: Ziltoidia Attaxx!!! (3:42) N9 (5:30) Omnidimensional Creator (0:48)

Report this review (#259791)
Posted Thursday, January 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars Perfect story behind this album provides so much needed originality. One of the few time I've been so much trying to understand (or in this case more like "read" from music) lyrics that I forgot to hear and evaluate music itself (music ? oh yes, there actually is something called music, I almost forgot). So much for classic sci-fi spoofing, parody is strong enough to make good independent film about these event, but here, our main concern is music. Or is it not ? When music is strong enough to be interesting, but is overshadowed by lyrics, it's rare case, but can be applied. Music on "Dark Side of the Moon" is for sure one of the Prog classics, but from time to time, I'm listening more to lyrics than music itself. It's happening from time to time, but not so often.

And also this is the second Devin Townsend album I've heard, so it also (I think) helps. And believe me when I say that music here is good. It's just (at least from my point of view) supplemental to words. Repeated listens showed how good music itself is, but first ones were in sign of text.

5(-), I'm not joking. But Ziltoid is. Well, you know now that I like funny prog :-)

As I just said: "Hey, it's metal, certainly not weak stuff, I shouldn't laugh, but I do, because of lyrics." - so after jazz metal, we have even bigger revolution - not serious metal.

Report this review (#268812)
Posted Saturday, February 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The mighty Ziltiod by the master of crazy himself Devin Townsend, now im a massive massive Heavy Devie fan so when i heard he was comming up with this album a concept album about an alien who travels lightyears to earth in search for the perfect cup of coffee i knew that this would be one non stop thrill ride, and it is. Its a bit like a rollercoaster just as you think its gonna be all stright it just dives into the crazy again, and boy do we love Mr Townsend for that, this album (in my opinion) shows that Devin is this century's Frank Zappa and really shows just how crazy the man is. The opening track ZTO is basically Ziltoids theme tune and a cool wee ditty its the longer tracks like BY YOUR COMMAND, SOLAR WINDS and COLOR YOUR WORLD that Dev really shines with this pristene wall of sound he is so famous for, just this insane wall of drop tuned 7 string guitars and programmed drums mixed with Devins incredible voice and production style make for one fantastic album, other standout tracks include ZILTOIDIA ATTAXX!!!, HYPERDRIVE and THE GREYS. For fans of Devin i doubt i have to mention just how good the musicmanship in this album is as its already established he is just an unreal talent and a one of a kind musician;

ZTO ? 9/10 By Your Command ? 10/10 Ziltoidia Attaxx!!! ? 8/10 Solar Winds ? 10/10 Hyperdrive ? 9/10 N9 ? 7/10 Planet Smasher ? 7/10 Omnidimensional Creator ? 7/10 Color Your World ? 10/10 The Greys ? 10/10 Tall Latte ? 8/10

My Conclusion? Highly recomended a fantastic album that shows Devin in his prime

Report this review (#283921)
Posted Friday, May 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Whoa! I've never heard Devin so energetic, powerful, and so damn Heavy Metal!! Yes, definitely a change, compared to the odd soundscapes of "Synchestra" and the epic, apocalyptic tracks that made "Terria" Townsend's supreme masterpiece . With "Ziltoid The Omniscient", Devin starts to have a little more fun: you can hear it from the enjoyable and not so serious concept, which narrates the story of an alien, Ziltoid The Omniscient, and of course you can hear it from the sound, so powerful, (some might even call it a little banal) and traditionally heavy. But this wasn't enough to satisfy Townsend: he also recorded ALL the instruments, including a crazy sounding drum machine, wrote all the songs, as usual, and arranged everything. It literally is a solo album.

Usually, an album like this wouldn't be good in many ways, since it would almost sound like a joke, but in this particular case, the album is a masterpiece of Experimental/ Progressive Metal, surely one of Townsend's most successful albums musically speaking: each song, except some of the brief interludes and the closer, is a brilliant effort, starting from the short opener "ZTO", and the following "By Your Command", one of the Canadian artist's best songs, to the ending song "Color Your World", excluding the real closer, "Tall Latte".

Surprisingly, the structure is impressive: eleven songs, full of interludes as well as long, complex songs, technically speaking, as well as amazing and simple songs, with a highly emotive impact. Some heavy craziness, as well as some melancholic, adolescent like songs (Hyperdrive), some great melodic lines, some fast, incredibly energetic moments.

This is "Ziltoid the Omniscient", 53 minutes of fun, energy, and of course, of excellent head banging action. Enjoy!

Report this review (#290428)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an amazing album!I like the concept.It's humorous and dreamy.Devin Townsend has the acting ability in a good level.There is a variety in music.It's atmospheric,calm,angry,fast e.t.c.My favorite tracks are:Zto(good introduction),By your command(Great beginning of the album.Very dynamic.),Hyperdrive(I like more this version),Planet smasher(funny and destructive),Color your world(maybe the best track),The greys(haunted)and Tall latte(because the listener realizes that all this,it's a dream of a clerk that he works in coffee shop).I like this abrupt return from space to reality.The only disadvantage of the album is that there is a drum machine(of Fredrik Thordendal(not of tomas haake) from Meshuggah).I recommend this album for every music lover.My grade:8/10
Report this review (#309789)
Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#329784)
Posted Monday, November 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is such a fun, funny, satirically melodramatic supervillain album I can't help but love despite my innate, seemingly unalterable aversion to harsh "metal" sounds (mostly bullet speed kick drum pedalling and constant, abrasive, 'infinite sustain' guitar and bass guitar power chords). The whole premise of a pimply teen 'Starbucks' coffee server's daydream revolving around the command order of a 'perfect' cup of coffee is hilarious. And Devin plays it out--both musically and lyrically--to perfection. While I personally chart only two five star songs--Solar Winds and Hyperdrive--the rest are such seemless contributors to the the gag/story that I wouldn't rate the rest with less than four stars. Though listening to this all the way through leaves me with quite some aural numbness, the story is worth it. The only Devin album, yet, that I will call a masterpiece--as much for its brilliant concept and cohesive presentation of such as for the obviously talent of his musicianship. I just wish he'd do something non-metal, non-heavy, non-tech/extreme. Maybe an all-acoustic "unplugged" album!?!?!? No QUEEN, is this Devin's attempt at a modern Flash Gordon soundtrack?
Report this review (#377649)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars By your command, mighty Ziltoid.

I can't compare this album to his other works, because this album is the best of Strapping Young Lad mixed with the best of Devin Townsend solo albums, and, for me, this is the best Devin Townsend album, heavy riffs, experimental riffs, melodic vocals, harsh vocals, extreme vocals, fun lyrics, the perfect album to show Devy to your friends.

The concept of the album may look weird at first, but when you actually listen to it, you will realize that is a lot of fun (An alien coming from across the Omniverse just to get a cup of coffee?), but not all of is funny, the lyrics of some of the tracks can be serious and deep, indeed .

The only things I don't like about this album are that some of the spoken parts (Ziltoid and the commander) are too fast and this makes some parts (like the end of Solar Winds) to drag on for too long.

Report this review (#381499)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This might have been the type of music that Zappa would have been making if he was born 40 years later.This is a hilarious concept album about an alien who calls himself Ziltoid The Omniscient. He travels from many lightyears away to strip earth of one of her precious liquids. No it's not water he's after it's coffee ! He faces off in an epic battle with Captain Spectacular all to the sounds of some of the heaviest [&*!#] you'll be exposed to. And Devin is solo here playing and singing everything himself. He gets help from MESHUGGAH's Fredrick Thorendal with his "Drumkit From Hell" software that might make you a believer in programmed drums.They sound surprisingly incredible.

"ZTO" is the short intro of bombast and heaviness to announce Ziltoid to the story. Ziltoid then gives his demands for a cup of black coffee in five minutes or else. "By Your Command" is heavy with that wall of sound that Devy is known for.Vocals join in. It settles back 4 minutes in then at 4 1/2 minutes we hear a conversation between Ziltoid and one of his minions. Drums dominate late.

"Ziltoid Attaxx !!!!" opens with the shout "Attack !" as a heavy sound kicks in.The vocals are intense here. "Solar Winds" opens with narration then reserved vocals come in at 1 1/2 minutes. It's building 3 minutes in then it's kicking hard before 5 minutes. A conversation comes in then it kicks in again with prominant drums. A conversation ends it. "Hyperdrive" is a song I love. It's so emotional. How does he do that ! Narration ends it.

"N9" kicks in heavily with a barrage of drums with vocals. It slows at 4 1/2 minutes but it's still heavy. "Planet Smasher" features heavy guitar with deep spoken vocals from Ziltoid. Great sound after 1 1/2 minutes. Headbanging time ! "Omnidimensional Creator" is a short narration piece.

"Color Your World" opens with heavy drums and vocals. It settles 4 minutes in and reserved vocals follow.It picks up before 8 minutes then here we go ! "The Greys" has a killer sound to it with some screams from Devin. "Tall Late" is the humerous conversation piece to end it.

4.5 stars.I would only rate "Ocean Machine" and "Terria" above this one. Killer !

Report this review (#466047)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars As good as Space Progressive Post Metal gets.

This album is about a fourth dimensional alien who wages war on humans because they didn't give him a good cup of coffee. Then there's some space travel and planet smashing, and then I lose track of the story. Obviously there are no boundaries to this album and doesn't take itself seriously at all, but the actual music is very good and so creates a fantastic album. Devin Townsend did the whole thing in the comfort of his own home with no one telling him what to do, so he was able to let his creativity run free.

The whole album is very heavy and ranges from screamo and immense double kick, to psycedelic spacey trips. Highlights are Solar Winds, Hyperdrive, N9, Colour Your World, and The Greys - all these being the less heavy ones. The drums are from a (really good) drum machine but it doesn't make a difference to me. The album is dominated by guitars and Devin makes good use of effects to get all sorts of sounds. He does a great job of this: I heard little keyboards and the atmosphere was still immersing.

The first time I listened to this I thought it was too heavy for me, which was a shame because I liked its concept. But I somehow found myself coming back to it and before long, I was left mezmorised after each listen. I usually hate screamo and growly vocals but in this album its all in context, so I can see how it actually enhances the music.

It must be said, if I rated each song individually I wouldn't give most of them a 9 or a 10. The music probably isn't 5 star worthy because of its heaviness but due to: the experience the album provides, its concept, and the album as a whole, I give it 5. This album is best listened to in its entirety.

Ziltoid may not suck you in at the first listen, but it'll become part of your life.

Report this review (#512909)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars By and large I don't really enjoy Devin Townsend's material - which isn't to say it's bad, but it isn't really my thing. The major exception is Ziltoid the Omniscient, a prog metal alien invasion epic so ridiculously over the top that it can't help but win you over. An impressive multi- instrumentalist accomplishment by Townsend, the album sounds fantastic for a record assembled and completed by one performer; in particular, thanks to secret technology obtained from Meshuggah Townsend is able to program his drum machine brilliantly, creating a sound which is truly indistinguishable from a very technically accomplished human drummer.

As well as having a silly plot and over-the-top proggy song structures, the album also shows a clear love for heavy metal in all its forms - see, for instance, some of the vocals in Ziltoidia Attaxx!!!, which are clearly meant to be a homage to Rob Halford's legendary vocal performance on Judas Priests' Painkiller. Packed with little details like that, the album is a great listen for all fans of metal, particularly if - like Ziltoid - you are secretly a nerd.

Report this review (#722261)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are two ways in which I viewed this album. Firstly, as an excellent Prog album and as an album with masterfully crafted concept in it~

Let's talk about the musical aspect from the album, Ziltoid the Omniscient offers the musicality level that I could classify as ones among the high-tier levels. It highly impressed me how Mr. Devin Townsend was able to arrange all this incredible songs by himself, in addition of playing all the instruments in addition of programming all the drum riffs using the software 'Drumkit from Hell'. Damn, I couldn't believe how much dedication and hard work was put to be able to muster such thing all by himself.

The sonic quality is album could be considered really good to me although it doesn't gave the grand atmospheric feeling included in albums mixed and produced by Steven Wilson. Nevertheless I gave one more thumbs up to Mr. Townsend for his production and mixing skills~

Briefly describing the musical styles of this album, it's mostly centered around Townsend's unique guitar riffs, vocal arrangements and the heavy drumbeats produced by 'Drumkit from Hell'. In between the vocals there's also spoken words from various characters featured in the album like 'Ziltoid the Omniscient', 'Captain Spectacular', 'The Planet Smasher' and other casts including Ziltoid's minions and the Omnidimensional Creator, the spoken words syncs perfectly along with the arrangements. All of the spoken words were voiced by Devin and I think he's done a really good job at voice acting in this album, I'm looking forward to the shows with him playing a voice acting role.

Getting more into detail about the musical aspects, I'm highly impressed with sir Devin's guitar work for creating unique guitar riffs and brilliant solos throughout the album. In addition, the atmospheric arrange by the keyboards and synthesizers, although doesn't provide many technical improvisations, it produces a 'Fully Atmospheric' feel that brings the sense of an epic spacey adventure story to the music, eliminating all the lonely silence with the guitar and drums alone, I like it a lot.

Some of few cons I have to note, it's probably about my speakers but I couldn't really hear the bassline plays on this record so I can't really give my comments about the bass playing. Also, even though the drum sounds produced by 'Drumkit from Hell' is awesome, mostly from Devin's brilliant programming, the drum riffs are pretty much repetitive and to me the drums only serve to complement the guitar plays in order to gave a heavier feel to the song~

Even with the short lack of experimentation of the instrumentals, there still a spark of genius in the vocal arrangements with variety of effects added to create the feel of 'spacey'. Mr. Townsend's singing is really powerful and I believe his vocal abilities are amongst the top-tiers on Progressive Metal. For me the vocals are one of the strong points of the musical aspect along with the guitars. Overall, this album has an excellent musical rewards to offer although I can't really gave a masterpiece rating to this album just based on the music alone because the lack of instrumental experimentation on some parts.

And now we're on to the conceptual aspects of this album..this is the one aspect which makes me sure enough to give 5 Stars. The first things I wanna say is...


Yeah, Devin had made such a memorable character, Ziltoid the Omniscient. He's one of my most recognized characters in Prog Rock concept albums along with Rael from the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis. This is one of the first things I wanna say about the album concepts, unlike most concept albums in Prog where the characters featured doesn't really become more than just stills to express the band's musical ideas, in ZTO album the characters really come to life by Devin Townsend's magic touch! I still remember vividly how the characters talk like : Ziltoid, Captain Spectacular, the Planet Smasher, the Omnidimensional Creator. Truly an innovation I'd say, I would watch the Ziltoid movie with full anticipation if it ever come to fruition.

Some background itself about the story idea, Mr. Townsend wants to mix comedy and metal by creating a story about Ziltoid who's searching for...the finest cup of coffee and eventually founds himself in Earth. Because he thinks that Earth was hiding their finest coffee bean he sets forth to invade Earth where he meets the challenge of his archnemesis, Captain Spectacular, an epic battle between them soon begins as the album plays around. I admit the story itself made me laugh but it turns out to be more of an epic adventure story rather than hilarious comedy one.

Once in his interviews about this peculiar album, he says that after he tried to combine metal and comedy, he realized that idea doesn't really work at all. I strongly disagree with that, Mr. Townsend. You've created rare masterpiece by trying out some new ideas like this, it really works wonders and you should have more confidence in this incredible work of art!

While the story itself is pretty straightforward and simple with nothing really extravagant, I find it really interesting to follow up until its completion. This explains you don't need an overly complex and philosophical idea to create a truly enjoyable concept album and this album proves it. The overwhelming passion of Devin Townsend has brought fruition to one of my favorite albums and I wish for his great success on all of his musical endeavors, bravo!

Report this review (#787016)
Posted Friday, July 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars 6.5/10

Ok... where is the masterpiece?

Not us, really. Not that my opinions on the discography of Devin are biased, but for the most well-rated albums I gave top marks to the median I gave positive ratings and the less well- priced ones were my least. This trend does not hold. Sorry Ziltoid, but I did not fall in their thanks.

The concept is funny, yes. How Mellotron Storm said, that's something Frank Zappa would have done (I'm actually laughing at the last track how Ziltoid is humming the tune of The Greys). Shall I acknowledge the efforts of Devy on doing all the work here, playing all instruments - and none is weak, showing how good he is instrumentalist. But the excess of growls and conversations and the lack of connection on some tracks makes me like this album less than Biomech, Terria or Synchestra.

There are some highlights here. Although I have spoken of the lack of connection in some songs I must say that I like the various transitions occurring in the two biggest songs: By Your Command, Solar Winds and Color Your World. And The Greys is a great and epic way to close the album (assuming Tall Latte is a lot of conversations). But the rest do not appeal to me as the songs do, and feel that here Devy left to be desired.

3 stars.

Report this review (#840978)
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars When this album first came out I was rather intrigued but slightly confused. I had always known that Devin had a rather odd sense of humour. Watching the preview videos for it, I knew this was something I had to buy. In all fairness I wasn't expecting much, but what I got was probably one of my all time favourites.

The production of this album is pretty limited for Devin due to his decision to make this thing pretty much completely by himself. While the guitars and keyboards do sound giant, the drums have a very mechanical feel to them, mainly due to the fact that they where programmed. But, because of this, the drums on this album are doing things that a human is pretty much incapable of doing with his body. Vocally Devin has really shown how diverse he is, by portraying most of the characters on the album.

For those who don't know, this album is a concept album about an alien who comes to Earth looking for coffee, tries to take over the world, and then decides to learn more about himself. I know to many people it sounds stupid...and it is, but it's pulled off so well. A lot of people always compare Devin to Frank Zappa, and, yea this album proves this completely. Zappa who was well known for making rather silly concept albums such as "Joe's Garage" and "Thing-Fish." The thing is, even though these albums where rather silly in nature, there was brilliant satire in them. In many ways, this album is a satire...a personal satire. If you read the lyrics very carefully, and even look at the image of is pretty obvious that the puppet is Devin. In many ways, this is Devin's most personal album to date. I would explain more, but then you might not want to listen to it...and you should listen to it.

The opener "ZTO" is pretty much the theme tune for the album. A brilliant way to open this rollercoaster of madness.

"By Your Command" is pretty much the opener for the album, and shows a lot what the album has in store for you. As usual, Devin's vocals are as diverse as ever. The real highlight is the rhythmic and almost chant like ending, with some absolutely brain melting riffs.

"Ziltoidia Attaxx!!!" would have been the perfect choice for a single, mainly due to its catchiness, its groovy nature and it's plain craziness. The drum programming for this song is insane. I don't think a drummer could move his feet this fast. The guitar work on this track is pretty impressive as well, even if it is rather satirical.

"Solar Winds" is pretty much the ballad on the album, and compared to the rest of it, it's a lot more gentle in nature. Some very beautiful parts in this song, with Devin giving a very honest and quiet vocal performance for a lot of it.

This album also contains the first incarnation of "Hyperdrive." I have to admit, I do prefer the "Addicted!" version mainly because of Anneke's voice, but this original is pretty laid back and rather pretty.

My least favourite song on the album would have to be "N9." I can kind of see why it was on the album and it does have some pretty nice moments, but in all fairness, it does seem a tiny little bit out of place.

One of my personal favourites would have to be "Planet Smasher." With the introduction of one of the coolest ideas for a character ever, Devin voices him with an insane low death metal growl. Definitly one of the catchier songs on the album and one of the most impressive.

The album's closing epic "Color Your World" pretty much ends the album. While most of it is pretty much heavy and crazy, the middle section of this song has to be one of the most beautiful pieces of music Devin has ever created. A great climax to the album.

The final song "The Greys" is very much the ending song. A very relaxed ending with a rather nice and catchy chorus. One of the more simplest songs, but still very effective.

In conclusion, this album is definitely something that everyone should listen to. It's so accessible, and its rather ingeniously done. If you don't like metal, you may at least find this album funny. If you aren't a comedy fan, you may enjoy the album's music. Pretty much, you got to respect an artist who makes a joke album, and is able to make it one of the most successful and meaningful album's they've ever done.


Report this review (#1030974)
Posted Sunday, September 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars A solo project in the truest sense from DEVIN TOWNSEND where he presents ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT, an album so hilarious and creative that it could have even been worthy of being in Zappa's discography. This is a concept album about a pretentious alien named Ziltoid who hails from the planet Ziltoida 9 and for some reason he decides to travel all the way to Earth in order to find the universe's ultimate cup of coffee. Yeah, a little far-fetched but in a good way. This reminds me of those Looney Tunes with Bugs Bunny and that Martian dude when he was trying to blow up planets and always got foiled by that wiley wabbit.

Devin played every single instrument on this album including the drum programming from a software program called Drumkit From Hell which was graciously provided to him by Frederik Thordendal of Meshuggah. He also wrote all the music, mixed and produced it. Devin admits that he basically withdrew from the world for four months and worked incessantly on this album in the Ziltoid cave ironing out every detail and to great success I declare.

The album flows brilliantly. This is basically first and foremost a story to be told with the music accompanying it appropriately, so maybe this could be considered a heavy metal musical of sort. An accomplished mix of his aggressive Strapping Young Lads days mixed with his more ambient solo works. Lots of nods to different types of metal in here as well. All in all a well-executed delivery system of one of the most ridiculous album themes ever to be released. In addition to creating the perfect musical accompaniment, Devin nails all the vocalizations in their corresponding roles as well, but I have to admit that when the Planet Smasher's voice enters the cast I keep expecting him to say "ME WANT COOKIE!"

Report this review (#1151658)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Devin Townsend-Ziltoid the Omniscient

I started listening to Devin Townsend about 5 months ago, and boy was I missing out!

Ziltoid the Omniscient is a concept album about an alien named Ziltoid who wants to travel to earth in order to find 'Their ultimate cup of coffee'. They then give him a cup of coffee, but he declares it as foul-tasting. So he gives the order to attack earth.

What a concept, I never thought I would see such a comedic concept coming from a progressive metal artist. Even though the story is sure to bring some laughter, it isn't just the story that makes this a masterpiece.

The music ranges from many different styles, from progressive metal, to ambient, to power metal, to space rock influences, to even death metal. With the short intro 'ZTO', the combination of death screams and operatic vocals fits very well. 'By Your Command', one of my favorites, has more combinations of death metal vocals and clean vocals with the drums pounding throughout. Surprisingly the more space-infused passages contrast very well with the powerful riffing and angry vocals. The bridge has great powerful riffing and space-infused keyboards. The end of the song is a among one of the best headbanger moments I've ever heard. It then flows smoothly into the song 'Ziltoidia Attaxx!' which shows Townsend using mostly death screams. Probably my favorite song is 'Hyperdrive', where Townsend shows his powerful soft vocals. The way his vocals flow perfectly with the driving guitar riffs. The thrash-death track 'Planet Smasher' is another song that stands out.

One thing that really amazes me, is that he plays every instrument himself. That is quite an amazing feat with such a complex album.

Overall, this album should appeal to most metalheads. If you don't enjoy a sense of humor when you're listening to music, it may not be for you but I still find this an essential album for many a metal collection. Certainly one of my favorite progressive metal albums of all time.

(Originally written for 5 months ago.)

Report this review (#1354917)
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mr. Townsend, with the birth of a child, had decided to lay off the heavy touring schedules for a while, which meant that he was going to do some solo work and put "Strapping Young Lad" on hiatus for a while. So, he makes this album, all by himself. It made a lot of his fans hesitant, especially when they started to find out that it was comedic concept album. What in the world is this?

Well, anyone else would have probably ended up with a cheesy sounding album trying to mix comedy and loud and heavy progressive tech metal together. But not DT. Even though this is full of humor, DT gives it all the emotion, orchestration and heart that he has given all of his albums.

One thing I noticed on this album, right off the bat, is that he has mixed the vocals closer to the front on most of the songs. The reason for this, I would assume, is to bring the importance of the story to the foreground. Truly funny lyrics, serious heavy metal with some quieter passages throughout, and so much heart that this is still an album to take seriously. As per usual, with DT's music, you get the rest of the instruments mixed at pretty much the same level, unless there is something that needs to stand out. This always gives me the feeling of listening not so much to a rock band as listening to a rock orchestra. His music is very symphonic most times, and it certainly is here on this album, and he can do this without using any traditional symphonic instruments. The sound is full, and even on the softer and slower passages, there is a lot going on. This time around, it is all being done by one man, DT himself.

The highlights in the story to me are when Ziltoid is pondering things and, even with his comic sounding deep voice, the delivery gives the character so much believability. Sure it's silly, but if this creature existed, it wouldn't be silly in his heart, it is serious business. Of course, another highlight throughout the album is the symphonic feeling that you get from DT's music, like I mentioned before. The harmonies are spot on again, they are created by layering of course since DT is the only participant on this album. I've always loved DT's sense of harmonics. I also love the use of dynamics, and DT knows how to make dynamics work to create power in his music, even when the music is at it's most beautiful.

The one minor problem I have with this album is the lack of variety that DT's best albums have. I really expected heaviness from this album because of the story line. I know that extreme metal is DT's intention for this album, so that's how it is. I still love the album, but I don't consider it as good as "Terria" for example. It's not that I don't love heavy music, because I do, but I do also expect more frequent use of dynamics because I feel it makes the music more powerful. DT usually takes care of this issue quite well in the albums I like more in his discography, and when it happens in this album, it is most welcome, but I would have liked to hear more dynamism. That's it and I know that is a personal preference, so if you don't mind all of the loudness, then you will love this album, as long as you don't mind the comedic factor.

So, overall, this is an excellent effort by DT. It has the traits you've come to expect from him. I think it's great that he still keeps his high expectations even on a not-so-serious concept. I still give this a strong 4 star rating, because I still can't help but love DT's music and I have always been attracted to it ever since I first heard of him (thanks to the co-worker in Greeley, CO that pushed me to listen to more of his music back in 2008). No lack of emotion in this album and no lack of progressive metal here either.

Report this review (#1364312)
Posted Saturday, February 7, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is album is essentially the epitome of Devin Townsend's madness and genius working in conjunction.

It's not my favorite album of his, almost because I'm trying to focus TOO much on the story and the story doesn't quite make sense because, well, it's not? And also the songs individually are fantastic, together there's still a lack of cohesiveness to the album as a whole.

And amazingly, Devin decides NOT to bludgeon you to death with reverb at the beginning of "By Your Command". In fact, the sound, especially the drums, have a deadened, punchier sound. Fair enough, as it essentially is Ziltoid's "Imperial March" if you will, designed to strike fear to those who disrespect the wonders that coffee can bring to the masses, who will be subsequently executed by barrage of noise during "Ziltoidia Attaxx!" The concept makes absolute sense, but I don't get the kind of epicness from a movie trailer during this big climactic event, not nearly as much of a spectacle that the "overture" "ZTO" introduces.

Perhaps I'm looking too much into it from an analytical perspective. If you sit down and imagine a Ziltoid movie and place this album as the accompanying soundtrack, it makes perfect sense. The image that's conjured up during "Solar Winds" and the narration telling the story (behind reverbed guitars, of course) is chilling, and Devin's mid-range vocals in the beginning here work spectacularly well. As a song, it's one of the highlights off the album, I just preferably prefer a version without the narration, some of the segues from track to track just aren't entirely convincing, methinks.

The tracks in of themselves though are fantastic. "Hyperdrive" is exactly what you think it is, essentially a radio rock tune from outer space, and that's not to mock DT at all (in this instance, I prefer the version of this song from "Addicted!", as Devin's lower-range singing just doesn't have the kind of energy this track is propelled by). "N9", by contrast, has its own surging energy galloping along before arpeggiated dissonant scales conjure up, I don't know, traveling through a mysterious nebula? It's a fairly heavy piece, though, brutal blastbeats pummel their way before cutting down to half tempo and trudging its way to the end behind a brass choir that's very evocative of Middle Eastern themes (potentially an homage to "Pixillate" from "Synchestra"? I hear a lot of that in there).

But that's not all the heavy devy that, well, Hevy Devy, brings. "Planet Smasher" is the most barbaric off perhaps all his songs. A solid minute of distorted chords behind narration builds tension and angst before the Planet Smasher is summoned, and from there it's just straight up brutality. Not my favorite, but it's a fun meat-head song if you don't like losing a few brain cells.

An interlude discussing Ziltoid's failure at everything and questioning his purpose leads to "Color Your World", another 9 minute brute of a piece, double bass drums furiously pounding, spewing noise and screams, rhythmically pounding away like a mechanized war machine. Eventually, though, by 4 minutes in, all the loud stuff fades out, while Townsend, um, goes to town, arpeggiating up and down mystical scales and chords in an ethereal lullaby. The drums here sound out of place, the cymbal crashes don't mesh with the subtlety of the guitars. Once the action picks back up, though, it's all well and good, but just the first instance sounds conflicted. With a minute left, then, the heavy comes back and pounds its way into the closing track, "The Greys". As a summary, the track really feels like two songs in one, and the last minute outro just feels tacked on, with no real symmetry from the first section or the second.

So by this point I have no idea what's going on in the story, and "The Greys" sounds like a concluding finale to... something, I don't even remember anymore. However, taken from face value, it's a nice sounding track. I just personally believe it would be better if it was on another album. From a conceptual story point of view, it doesn't quite work. Then again, I may be taking that point too seriously, and, well, Devin doesn't really do serious, as we know.

What I do know is that I applaud the first half of the album more then I do the second. From "Color Your World" to the end, the point is lost to me and my ear, and I just can't be bothered anymore. The rest of the album, though, is fantastic, and I do applaud Townsend's either bravery or insanity from devising an idea like this, but considering I expect 90000% from concept albums, this album kinda bummed me out in terms of the epic, cartoonish scale I was hoping. Then again, maybe that's what Townsend wanted to make, I don't know.

So if that is, then all I can say is, bravo, Devin, well done!

Now get me a grande cappuccino, slacker.

Report this review (#1453212)
Posted Friday, August 14, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Serious music without taking itself seriously. This album is fun. That is all that can be said.

I first came across Devin Townsend with his "Addicted" album and fell in love completely not only with Anneke, but the music and words from this man.

So when my friend gave me this album to listen to, I was expecting great things, which after the first few listens I just didn't get.

Giant wall of sound, a drum machine that sounded out of control and .. yuck is that growling??

The good thing is as with many progressive metal albums I have listened to over the years the intricacies begin to uncover themselves to allow you to understand the full story of the album. Once you make sense of the drums, the words and the pictures painted with the music, you end up with an album that is just so kick-butt awesome that my lexicon and love for coffee has been forever changed. Phooey! Yeeeeees! decaf, non-fat, no-whip, sugar-free, vanilla-flavored latte, FETID!"

The highlight songs on this album are By Your Command, Solar Winds, Hyperdrive, Planet Smasher and Colour Your World. All are rich in riffage, sheer guitar wankery and throughout it all, telling a story of insecurity and discovering your place in the universe.

4 and a half stars out of 5, rounded down because of Deus ex Machina. Recommended to those who are fans of great metal musicianship.

Report this review (#1528423)
Posted Thursday, February 11, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars What a disappointment for me just one year after the excellent Synchestra! I always consider parody or theatrical elements potentially dangerous to focus on music.

If jokes and lyrical plays do not interrupt the music flow, I can stay focused on the music because I almost always ignore the lyrics. Here, despite the undisputable music highlights, it disturbs me significantly.

The drums, programmed by DT himself, sound somewhat artificially. Some of the songs such as "Ziltoidia Attax" are agressive but don't bring the necessary quality. The best tracks are the longest ones. The usual songwriting skills are not much on display on this record. Therefore 3 stars only.

Report this review (#2043286)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2018 | Review Permalink

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