Monday, January 27, 2014

Devin Townsend - Ziltoid The Omniscient

Devin Townsend
Ziltoid The Omniscient
HevyDevy Records

Today's guest reviewer is my brother in broadcasting Rocky Reidel of MindSplinter Radio. Rocky, the Prog Music Editor at No Funeral (pictured below), is sharing an album geared towards those music school, tremolo-picking,shred addicts out there, yet it's accessible for everyone. Enjoy!

(Rocky Reidel live at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, 2013)

A MetalHead's Intro to Prog: Devin Townsend's Ziltoid the Omniscient

By Rocky

I remember heading back to the local record shop (do they have those anymore?) when I was in high school the day before this record came out. I had already pre-ordered it the week or two previously and the record shop dude was cool enough to let me get it as soon as the shipment came in, a day early. Before putting in this 53 minute pulse of progressive metal, my only exposure to Devin Townsend was a couple Strapping Young Lad singles and a teaser video on youtube released a few months before.

A progressive metal, concept album, set in space, about an alien attacking earth!? Of course a weirdo like me would dig that. In that glorious first hour, I laughed, I cried, I headbanged, I made outrageous claims like I invented the question mark. Really, if you have never heard any progressive metal this will slap you in the face and demand your respect.

Ziltoid the Omniscient was the culmination of Devin Townsend's retreat from the public after his stint with Strapping Young Lad. A truly solo album, Townsend played all the instruments and wrote all the lyrics and melodies. This glorious album is merely a glimpse into the insane genius that is Devin Townsend.

The album starts fast and furious with ZTO and By Your Command, listen closely you'll get the gist of the storyline. By Your Command has excellent metal interlaced with prog syth and melodies, definitely a microcosm of the entire album. Ziltoidia Attaxx!!! is pure Devin Townsend thrash with some awesome technical riffs and earsplitting double bass drumming (hint, its a machine). Solar Winds is my favorite on the album, soft start with Townsend singing clean and great spacey reverb guitar work. You can almost feel the zero gravity taking you away. It picks up into a pure prog metal melody, heavy and complex. Hyperdrive takes you on the run with the Earth survivors and Captain Spectacular, an uptempo song that was later re-mixed and released on a later album (Addicted).

N9 showcases the double bass drumming in all its glory, sweet riffs but this is the one song that could sound like filler to most, it did at first to me (it has grown on me, I just wish the lyrics were re-mixed a little louder). Planet Smasher takes us out of halftime with a chanting, heavy riff. This is heavy metal with a storyline, great song. Omnidimensional Creator is a speaking interlude. Color Your World features more bleeding ears drums and guitars, great stuff. You also get some prog synth in there as the song mellows, but don't worry metalheads it won't freak you out. As the second longest track at 9:44, it picks up and ends strong. Lastly The Greys rounds out the album musically with some strong prog metal, heavy riffs, clean vocals, synth, and complex melodies. This is another favorite, very similar to Townsend's previous non-Strapping Young Lad releases. Tall Latte is a speaking extro that finishes up the concept storyline.

Overall the album is fantastic, a sure favorite for both metalheads and prog fans alike. The storyline is light, comedic but presented well enough for you to really get into the saga of Ziltoid the Omniscient and his nemesis Captain Spectacular. I am usually one to be very strongly against too much double bass drumming and this album pushes that limit but manages to use it a manner that doesn't drown the album with bleeding ears. The metal is heavy, the prog is complex, the storyline is compelling and humorous. A great album for any collection.


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