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Devin Townsend - Zē CD (album) cover

Devin Townsend


Experimental/Post Metal

3.81 | 133 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Devin Townsend returns with another face-smashing collection of modern metal that is uplifting, melancholic, poetic, schlocky, and scatological; a combination of adjectives that could only apply to Townsend, yet you'll probably agree that this is a pretty apt description. As always, Townsend has produced a musical package with production values that are off the charts, engaging songs, thoughtful and fun lyrics, and instrumental fireworks. Z2 has a huge sound and tons of variety; it'll appeal immediately to those of us who are on board with Devin's musical projects lately, though this album has the difficult duty of following a string of 5-star releases from Townsend, including the "original" Ziltoid the Omniscient, and well... you know that they say about sequels.

The first disc is crammed with twelve songs, played in a tone and style similar to Townsend's more approachable sound heard in Addicted and especially Epicloud. If you've never heard Townsend's music, you'll probably be struck at once by the density of guitar and effects that come cascading out of your speakers. The guy's a wizard in the studio, and it shows in the complexity and layers of sounds we hear through this first half. Highlights include the fine opener, the insanely empowering "Fallout" (one of the best pump-up songs ever?), "Sky Blue," which features an interesting combination of delicate textures and metal roar, and the musical suite of "Forever" and "Before We Go." These latter songs bring a satisfying end to the first half. I'm especially impressed by the lyrics of these songs, which demonstrate a brilliant level of simplicity and understated class. Yes, class, a word which Devin would probably chortle at if he were to read this. It's a great example of how evocative lyrics that paint images of sensations and emotions are often more effective than narrative and explicitness in music.

Speaking of narrative and explicitness...

The star of the show, the mega-cheese space opera of the second disc, is a different beast. It's sort of a reboot of the Ziltoid story, and is filled with noisy metal bombast and numerous "dramatic" interludes. The story is a deliberately weird and stupid musical satire, complete with characters, narrator, and a beginning, middle, and end to the story (sort of). The story is much more coherent than our first Ziltoid experience, and the music may be even more dense. While it's all good, when comparing it to Ziltoid, it doesn't make as much of an impact. This isn't just because it isn't as fresh, or because the joke is old (the narrative is pretty funny), it's that the music and lyrics feel much more locked in to telling the story that reaching out to us with those moments that stick with you and that you can walk away with.

This leads me to my only real criticism with Z2: it's a finely polished record that may not make an emotional impression on you. Townsend's production, writing, and playing are pretty much bullet-proof, but this release doesn't have the spark to place it among his best. That being said, it's still a tremendously epic and successful collection of artistic metal that should be explored by anyone interested in discovering one of the most creative, prolific, and dependably excellent artists on this site (though, maybe after you've listened to his best). Townsend's brand of metal is highly artistic while also refreshingly honest and without pretense; a genuine collection of heavy duty metal and emotion. Recommended.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Prog Leviathan | 4/5 |


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