Devin Townsend continues to produce quality music, in his own twistedly brilliant way. Ziltoid is the perfect compliment/new addition to his catalog of musical masterpieces. It has bits of all the elements he has used throughout his career, insane heaviness (like SYL), melodic brooding tonalities (like solo-Terris-era work) and a killer concept that makes you wanna run out and mainline caffeine!! Okay, that might be pushing it, but this album, balls to bones, kicks and shreds its way immediately into the upper eschalon of great metal!! Anyone who even remotely thinks they are a fan of metal must own this album….You are just pitiful if you don’t…Support Metal!! ALL HAIL ZILTOID!!!
Leave it to Devin Townsend, one of the most colorful and prolific characters in the world of heavy metal to come up with such a bizarre and whimsical concept album as Ziltoid The Omniscient. Synopsis: Ziltoid is an alien from the 4th dimension who has come to Earth where he hovers 5 miles above Qatar in geosynchronous orbit. From there he beams videos, music and words to the populace below. However, Ziltoid has a secret plan – being that he is one dimension above the rest of us, Ziltoid possesses the power to bend time… but to do so requires a very special fuel, black coffee, which is found only one place in the universe… you guessed it – Earth. All hail Ziltoid and his infinity metal! Prepare your finest brew!!!
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Who but Devin Townsend, the eclectic and brilliant musician that he is, could give us Ziltoid, a nerdy caffeine-addicted power deluded space invader that’s sympathetically ridiculous and still capable of snookering unsuspecting idiot Earthlings via his 4th dimensional guitar skills?
One part metal, one part radio drama from the old days of “War Of The Worlds” and one part hybrid “Lost In Space/Batman” space goofiness, “Ziltoid The Omniscient” is a delight from start to his unfortunate demotion to what we may safely assume as an orbiting Starbucks franchise. Townsend, ever the character, did the entire CD, including drum programming. We get lots of sci-fi guitars, keyboards and humor, including the appearance of the know all and see all space dude.
Few, if any modern day artists have the range and depth of Devin Townsend, who may be the only serious competition in musicianship and scope as his hero and mine, Frank Zappa. One hopes he can break out of his cult status as the genius he is, but in the meantime, it’s fun to claim him as one of rock’s best kept secrets. As Ziltoid commands of his coffee, Townsend “makes it perfect!”
I am a relative newcomer to the the world of Devin Townsend, and wow….have I been missing out or what? Devin dished out brutality in Strapping Young Lad, beautiful songs and melody in the Devin Townsend material that I have heard so far (Synchestra and Ocean Machine with the former likely being one of the most perfect albums of its type ever made), and sprinkles humor into everything he does.
This album is a great mix of all three aspects and is simply dripping with FUN for progressive/metal fans like me.
I highly recommend following the lyrics and the liner notes as they really help to bring the story together. I will say that there are some minor story flaws, but he wasn’t trying to write Operation Mindcrime here.
I don’t think there is a song on here that doesn’t have something really cool going on. Highly recommended!
I have always enjoyed Devin Townsend’s unique musical sensibilities and style, and the latest release from this musical iconoclast is no exception….some might find the kitschy, sardonic sci-fi trappings and storyline of this latest project a bit much, but any fan of “Mystery Science Theater” or Kurt Vonnegut will feel right at home here.
The first completely “solo” project from Devin (although he has always worn many hats both in SYL and DTB, on this release he literally was a one-man show, writing all the lyrics and music, and performing on all instruments, assuming all production roles, etc.), it is different from both his older Strapping Young Lad and Devin Townsend Band projects in that it is more humorous and conceptual thematically, but musically it is very much a continuation of his previous work.
This latest epic from Devin is a campy science-fiction concept album telling the story of an omniscient alien being named Ziltoid who needs a rare substance from Earth in order to be able to bend time and space to his will….and that substance is….coffee. Black. Fun stuff, but not for those who take everything too seriously. I have personally always enjoyed Mr. Townsend’s quirky sense of humor, which has always been revealed in smaller doses on his previous work, and had fun seeing him fully embrace and run with it on this latest offering. Musically, and for fans of his previous work, this album has some great, heavy, bombastic metal moments as well as sublime, spacy prog-rock interludes, coming off like SYL’s “The New Black” meet”Terria” and “Ocean Machine”. Recommended!
Something inside me says people reviewing this album will focus more on the concept rather than the music presented on this disc, so I’ll leave it up to them. All I will say is that Devin Townsend Presents Ziltoid the Omniscient is a sci-fi tale about a guitar-playing alien who pays a visit to planet Earth. To further investigate the plot, all you need to do is buy the album and read the booklet, which includes all lyrics except for “Hyperdrive”, and it also features passages that are not sung/spoken in the songs — then you should have a fairly solid idea on what the story is about.
For starters, Ziltoid is a solo album in the truest sense. Devin Townsend wrote all songs, recorded, mixed, and engineered everything by himself. He also played all instruments, except the drums which he programmed on the Drumkit From Hell software that Meshuggah’s Fredrik Thordendal sent him. Granted the drumming does not sound as organic as, say, Terria, the somewhat industrial beats, juxtaposed with tons of samples, give off an alien-like quality to the songs, which definitely fits the concept of this album. This is also what distinguishes Ziltoid from the earlier Devin Townsend records musically. Other than that, traces of both Synchestra and Accelerated Evolution, the two previous albums, can be detected in some of the songs here. A good dose of aggressiveness and openness of either album turn into pivotal points in the course of the album, depending on the mood intended to portray.
Those who consider Ocean Machine Devin Townsend’s unrivaled masterpiece will be pleasantly surprised by tracks like “Hyperdrive”, which is defined by clean harmonies, liquidy guitar phrases, and the droning, meditative atmosphere. Also, “Color Your World”, at nearly ten minutes, establishes a context in which Devin deftly packs both the harmonic brilliance of Terria and the peaceful, unique aural experience of Ocean Machine. The classically influenced midsection transitions into the Biomech aesthetic so seamlessly that you feel like you’re listening to both masterpieces in a single composition. Speaking of seamless transitions, the spoken-like death growls on “Planet Smasher” turn into Devin’s trademark confident clean singing in the blink of an eye as well.
“By Your Command” and “Ziltoida Attaxx!!!” both contain Devin’s theatrical, less intensified SYL type of growling fused with hilarious lyrical content, and his classic epic arrangements defined by rising synth modulations and furious double bass drum battery. The latter even features an unexpected guitar solo atop a dissonant rhythmic cluster. To balance things out, Devin offers his deepest clean singing to date — which eerily evokes Dan Swano at his most expressive — on another mammoth number, “Solar Winds”, poised to become many a fan’s favourite off of this record, along with “The Greys”, a modern take on the sounds of his first solo album. Halfway through the song, heavier guitar accents come in rolling whilst the classical touch of Terria’s symphonic quality crops up. This is music with immense impact. Period.
Being a rock-opera kind of thing, there is plenty of narrated sections on most of the tunes, which can be annoying at first. However, after repeated listens, these voice-overs will fade into the background, much like the spoken stuff in the intro of Terria’s “Earth Day”. Also, the Ocean Machine-like material, which boasts profound ambient passages filled with tidal waves of churning guitar riffage, utilizes Devin’s vocals as an extra dimension to the music, rather than a vocalist simply adding his nth melody to an already challenging and well crafted composition. “N9″, for instance, is one of these songs. Aside from the heavier Strapping Young Lad-inspired guitar attacks and smashing rhythms, the piece is carried by wonderfully arranged, sweeping melodies distilled into dissonant passages of Middle Eastern textures. Amidst all of this are Devin’s otherworldly vocal lines interwoven into the layers. It’s simply beautiful.
The first and last tracks serve more as an intro and outro to the album, and track eight, “Omnidimensional Creator”, at less than a minute, is more of a precursor to the grandiose “Color Your World”. Overall, Ziltoid is a cosmos of sound, which deliberately functions as a genre-crosser whilst retaining Devin Townsend’s truly unique songwriting vision.
Considering that Devin has put both the DTB and SYL on hold and stated that he will solely focus on his solo career, hopefully he will put out more albums that continue to shock and please his loyal fan base.