Artist :: Devin Townsend
Album :: Ziltoid the Omniscient
Label :: InsideOut Music
Play this cut first :: By Your Command
In a word :: Brilliant
I was first introduced to Devin Townsend when he did the vocals in Steve Vai's Sex & Religion CD. It was evident from the point that he had something different going in upstairs. I mean, Steve Vai is sort of known as an alien among musicians. That he chose Devin should've been a sign. Since then, Devin's band Strapping Young Lad has had a very devout following in the underground for bringing together powerful riffs that will, turn on your lightbulb and smash it all at the same.
But with Ziltoid the Omniscient he really outdoes himself.
This album is like The Muppets meet Paradise Lost at a Carcass concert. Before we get to the comedic storyline, it is worth saying that this album would be a metal masterpiece of musicianship without the gimmicky, yet effective story line that goes with it. Yet, this is why we love Devin Townsend, because he can be wonderfully creative, yet technically fierce as a musician.
Okay, the story line.
(Lifted from Wikipedia)
The story begins with Ziltoid arriving at Planet Earth and demanding the ultimate cup of coffee (ZTO). When he is disappointed by the cup they give him, he attacks Earth with his army and his secret weapon - his guitar playing. Ziltoid wishes to impress the humans enough to hand over their finest coffee so he can go back in time and present himself throughout the Universe as the ultimate guitar player. (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 Nebulowenine (Solar Winds and Hyperdrive).
Ziltoid follows and is presented a beautiful vision and is momentarily stunned, baffled and has a 'Ziltoidian epiphany'. He snaps out of the haze and becomes angry, retreating to Flagggdathgraths Universal Arcade, where one can pay to destroy a virtual planet. He summons the 6th dimensional Planet Smasher to help him destroy his chosen planet. (N9 and Planet Smasher).
Herman the 6th dimensional Planet Smasher rejects Ziltoid so he visits the Omnidimensional Creator to find out the true nature of his reality (Omnidimensional Creator), and he sees his whole life before him. Finally he is told that he is only 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).
While major record labels are decrying the Internet as the devil and calling their customers thieves, artists like Devin Townsend are embracing the medium, creating Ziltoid videos (like the one above) to reach out to the online crowd, mix it up a little, and hope they buy the disc. And, really, you TOTALLY should. This is the stuff that keeps music evolving while Britney Spears is breaking down for Barbra Walters.
Best cuts on the album :: By your Command, Planet Smasher, Solar Winds
The Bottom Line :: Bizarre? Sure. But that weirdness is splendidly wrapped in a rock opera that moves as a rock opera should, with dynamic ups and down, and even narration. It's not like The Wall, nor does it aim to be - something we're all a little better off because of. Nonetheless. It's brilliant. If you are in a listening rut, or really appreciate genius in the bizarre, you must own Ziltoid the Omniscient.