Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Music Review - Devin Townsend Project - Ziltoid 2

It's been about a year and I'm not reaching for this album any more. 'Tis a pity 'cause I'm part of the galactic choir or whatever he called it. Anyway, my overall impression is that these two albums are decent but won't be looked back on as a highlight of his career.

As a rule I don’t care for operas. To me it seems like the music takes a backseat so some fancy-pants singer won’t be upstaged. That’s how I initially felt about Dark Matters, the follow up to the amazingly fun Ziltoid the Omniscient. You know, the Devin Townsend metal rock opera about a coffee bean thieving alien who is actually a hand puppet? Now I’m not saying that Mr. Townsend wears fancy pants but Dark Matters has so much dialogue and narration in its attempt to tell a story that I couldn’t fully hear the music underneath.

Fortunately I purchased the deluxe set which includes a CD of Dark Matters sans dialogue and my mind has been changed. Like much of Mr. Townsends music it is an odd mixture. At times Dark Matters is heavy, flooding your ears with triple kick drums and complicated non-traditional time signatures, such as the opening track “Z2” which stands alongside his most punishing pieces on Deconstruction. Still heavy, but not as prog-thrash, is the engaging “March of the Poozers”, though I won’t spoil the album by telling you what a Poozer is and the party they play in saving the Earth. “Ziltoid Goes Home” is a speedy little number packed with distorted guitars and… ya know what? Most of the songs on this album are heavy and fast, though true to his brain all are just a bit weird. The only consistently slow (but still heavy) track is the finale, “Through The Wormhole” where Devin is joined by a choir of over two thousand fans (this dorky author included) who recorded themselves singing along to a Devin-provided guide track. It’s the largest choir ever to appear on a metal album, or so says the sticker on the album which makes me wonder if there have been larger choirs on, for instance, a reggae album.

Because Devin’s record company didn’t want just another complicated heavy album and because Devin apparently writes three songs every time he uses the facilities, Sky Blue was born. Twelve songs (four bathroom trips, if you’re keeping score) in the gossamer power pop style of Epicloud. Yes, a second fully produced and executed album as in “not demos.” Like the Ziltoid album, and despite its seemingly more simplistic songs, Sky Blue took a number of listens before it sank it. Loud volumes helped as well. While the songs span loud and quiet, fast and slow, heavy and ethereal, the overall impression is of a joyous secular church revival service with the songs drenched in Devin’s trademark wall of soft reverb plus an occasional appearance by the massive fan choir.

Mr. Townsend is one happy man, now that he’s freed from all of his addictions, and his exuberance for life shows forth on both Blue Sky and Dark Matters so much that it’s practically addicting to the listener. Whether its maniacal hand puppets bent of universal domination or positive heavy pop-rock songs pumping with energy, Devin’s world is a blast for those souls curious or demented enough to enter the celebration.

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