Devin Townsend - Ziltoid The Omniscient
InsideOut Music
Progressive Metal
11 songs (53:52)
Release year: 2007
Devin Townsend, InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Dylan
Album of the year
When I saw Nergal, Shagrath, and Dani Filth gracing the cover of the latest issue of Revolver, I decided it might be worth the five bucks I had buried in my pocket. After about 5 minutes of trying to find the interview with the three extreme metal vocalists, I realized that the magazine hasn’t gotten much better since I last checked, which was well over two years ago. However, I did manage to find what I was looking for. Most of the interview focused on how the musicians felt about Christmas, the current and former state of black metal, among other topics. Towards the end of the interview, there was one question I found particularly interesting, especially since all three men gave the same answer. When asked if humor has any place in their music, or metal as a whole for that matter, all three of them said that it has no place in their music and should be left outside of metal for the most part. Thankfully, Devin Townsend doesn’t see things that way at all.

While I’ve come to accept the fact that his days in Strapping Young Lad may very well be over, albums like Ziltoid The Omniscient make me hope his solo projects will continue far into the future. In short, this is a concept album about an otherworldly alien hell-bent on destroying earth after tasting some less-than satisfactory coffee. Of course, Ziltoid meets some resistance along the way in his quest to destroy the earth. The story is pretty funny, but not too complicated. Granted, Townsend has always been more than a little eccentric in his work, but this one has to top everything in overall weirdness. Luckily, he knows this and manages to back up this absurd story with some truly great music.

This album needs to be listened to from start to finish your first time through, period. There will be tons of cool passages, licks, and jokes that are going to slip by you the first time, and letting the whole album wash over you is the first step in catching them all. The lush guitars, precisely programmed drums, and…”varied” vocal work by Townsend makes each song captivating. Listening to this album is like watching a musical, with one man playing every part. Each song has the ability to stand on its own, but also fits within the overall picture fantastically. The elements of all his past works (save for Punky BrĂ¼ster are here. Tracks like Ziltoidia Attaxx!!! and Planet Smasher have the heavy, Strapping Young Lad vibe coursing throughout them, while Solar Winds and The Greys have a much lighter air about them, reminding me of Accelerated Evolution more than anything.

If you’re looking for atmosphere, this album has it in spades. As I listen to the album, I don’t get a mental picture in my head, I get an entire movie playing. I can see Ziltoid’s army march with him in By Your Command. I can see myself sitting next to Captain Spectacular, introspectively gazing out into space as I listen to Solar Winds, and feel myself cruising through the galaxy during Hyperdrive. I honestly can’t remember the last time an album became so visually stimulating through sheer sound alone. I can only imagine what the madman himself saw when he created this opera.

When your not spacing out and letting the music take me where it will, your going to be laughing your ass off at some of the jokes that Townsend comes up with out of nowhere. Hearing him say, “I’m the greatest guitar player ever to have lived!” over a deranged Slayer-esque solo was probably the first time I’ve laughed out loud while listening to an album. And of course, I’m laughing with Townsend, not at him. There are lots of other surprises I don’t want to spoil, so you’ll just have to find them yourself!

Ziltoid The Omniscient is loaded with everything you could ever want in a concept album. It takes you on a musical journey you soon won’t soon forget. You’ll laugh, get pissed, feel at peace, and then you’ll laugh again, sometimes within the same song. If only more bands could successfully add in just the right amount of humor over truly killer music, metal would be a much funnier place.

There is only one minor gripe I have with the album, and that is in the ending. Some will love the way the story ends, and others will feel like it was a cheap copout to the story. Then again, if anyone could find a way to continue the story with the kind of ending on this album, it’s Townsend. Here’s to hoping for Ziltoid 2, and that the puppet show makes its way to Nashville!
Killing Songs :
Dylan quoted 95 / 100
Adam quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Devin Townsend that we have reviewed:
Devin Townsend - Empath reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
Devin Townsend - Infinity reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
Devin Townsend - Devlab reviewed by Ken and quoted 80 / 100
Devin Townsend - Terria reviewed by Paul and quoted 80 / 100
Devin Townsend - Physicist reviewed by Danny and quoted 95 / 100
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