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Maybe it's the cheap $30 scotch coursing through my veins at 5am, or the lingering remanents of Stuvyasent cigarettes smoke scorching whatever is remaining of my already corroded lungs but personally I find Devin Townsend's latest 'masterpiece' only entertaining at the very least. Don't get me wrong, I find myself giggling and enjoying the hybridisation of science fiction and utterly ludicrous situationality but that which is redeeming is lacking. No doubt Devin Townsend has become something of a cult figure in the metal scene with his polarising image that mirrors his very own bipoplar personality disorder; there are those who deem his 'progressive' works as being more profound than the prolific works of our millenia's greatest philosophers and scientists whilst others have something of a massive boner for his more uncomplicated and frankly, batshit insane songs of misanthropy and teenage-esque alienation. "Ziltoid the Omniscient" is a rather odd amalgamation of the the two 'sides' of Devin; at times it fucks around with his more progressive and ambient side such as within the track 'Hyperspeed' but it also flirts unabashedly with his desire to bash chords mindlessly and overlay the section with keyboards and industrial style samples ala Strapping Young Lad presented in tracks such as 'By Your Command' and 'Planet Smasher'. It tries to please many a crowd, appealing to both by offering sections time and time again to get their attention. It works because people are fucking idiots overall, but even my jaded self am rather smitten with this album... at times anyways.
The album quite obviously centres around an alien, Ziltoid who is seeking the perfect cup of coffee. He comes upon Earth and is taken aback by their shitty brew, something I can agree with at the very least and decides destruction is the most rational course of action. To be honest the whole album comes to together sounding more or less like a combination of a Futurama script forcibly merged with a metal album, albeit with no amusing jokes and gags peddled by Bender. Thank god he has the self-respect to not peddle out a Bender-esque character. Regardless the story is mostly enjoyable and provided you have more sense of humour than a hermit crab living in a the remains of a Pepsi Max can, it's rather easy to enjoy this surrealistic and ridiculous plot for what it's worth. Despite which is isn't much but it has enthralled me far more than any 'serious' plot perpetuated by the hordes of progressive bands, Symphony X anyone?
As previously mentioned the overall sound of the album straddles a line between SYL and Devin's personal progressive works. There is a clear element of keyboards and industrial effects throughout most, if not all tracks as a means to represent the intergalactic theme of the entire album. It works but at times the riffs themselves fall rather flat on their face. They're unimaginative and lack any real balls to them, simply filling the void in between and behind the dialogue, a device to ensure 'noise' is being made. We're listening to a metal album right? Noise is a PREREQUISITE motherfuckers! Or something like that... It also mamages to mention multiple dimensions, which again seems something that helps it attain some sort of science fiction status. Fuck logic or explanation to their appearance or signifigance within such an album, THAT'S FUCKING UNNECESSARY!!!!
Of course one could argue the whole comedical and non-serious nature of the album, and it's frequently considered to be an attribute that allows for this album to escape any sort of 'serious' review scores or analysis. Well fuck that I say, a review is a review redardless of the album, and right now the reviewer happens to be very drunk on vodka (please not that HALF of this review was written on a completely different day and thus the drink's menu 'changed'). All I can say is that the album leans far too heavily on it's comedic base and expects that all shall be forgiven because it can illicit laughter from your retarded husk of a form.
Despite all these flaws however, the album works to a degree. Whilst the guitars are rather cack except for an exceptionally wankish solo, that is a parody of itself really, everything else makes up for where they fail. All the instruments come together well in the song constructions and the music manages to suit the mood of the story rather exceptionally. At this point it's questionable to whether the story was molded to the music or the music was molded to the music, but that's beyond me since right now I'm finding it hard enough to actually type properly as it is. In fact the keyboards tend to be the far more adeptly constructed instrument out of the lot, then again with the sci-fi theme firmly at it's side there's little doubt that synths/keyboards wouldn't be a major part of the storytelling process really. Of course thanks to the overt SYL influences the drums are ball-busting loud and well, really fucking loud. I suppose drum-fetishists will be ready to wank themselves raw but the rest of us a left out in the cold dealing with a blizzard of double bass and blast beats. But yet again, it all works. It's terrible to admit that an album with piss poor guitar work is good, it feels as if though I should be preparing for Sepukku since I will quite readily shit all over a black metal album with poor guitar work but will let Mr.Townsend run rampant whilst smacking his guitar against a class of six-year olds. Maybe it's his rather fucking awesome skullet, being a man who will no doubt go bald like his father, I can't help but admire Devin's tenacity in maintaining long hair despite his well-developed chrome dome.
At this point I should really end the review and conclude that despite some of the failings in the instrumentation departments, Devin Townsend has managed to use song construction and themes to his advantage that salvage this potential wreckage. What you will take away from this album is varied since no doubt everyone will have their own approach and honestly there is an amusing little story and some rather talented tracks to enjoy. Personally I'd like to see Townsend keep his two musical projects seperate in the future as the juxtaposition between the two stylings is jarring to the point of hurting my neck. Still for you misty-eyed prog hippies you will eat this up for sure, the rest of us; proceed with caution.