Devin Townsend Project – Z²

Devin Townsend Project - Z2

Reviewing a Devin Townsend record can be quite overwhelming by itself, not to mention a two in one record. The reason to that is that Townsend is best known for his impeccable, yet borderline insane approach to music. Well, this new record has been highly anticipated because it brings forward to DTP fans the mighty follow up to Ziltoid the Omnicient.

 contains some of the heaviest work Townsend has put out so far and is offering fans and new listeners alike infinite possibilities to discover on this record at least one thing they like because it goes from one end of the universe to another during its 117 minutes.

The first album Sky Blue is reminiscent of the most recent work Townsend has done and represents mostly a 50 minutes moment of respiro before the progressive, industrial sci-fi storm is unleashed upon us. During these twelve songs, Townsend makes way for his now co-lead vocalist, Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering). Right from where Rejoice begins, we get the vibe that Sky Blue will stand out as the softer, yet not at all disregarded album included on the record. We listen to Anneke’s symphonic enchanting, alternating with Townsend’s powerful clean vocals while a more progressive and heavy metal guitar and keyboards take over on Fallout. We’re driven into a ballad trio during the songs that follow where Townsend proves his prowess over some soulful solos (Midnight Sun, Universal Flame) and flawless passages between atmospheric, acoustic and progressive, characteristic to bands like Storm Corrosion and Porcupine Tree and where Anneke helps the songs flow with her melancholic and symphonic vocals. A New Reign is the only song included in this trio that benefits from a heavy breakdown during its second part while an obscure voice repeats the words “we’re giving in”. Though we’re kept in the same ballad bubble for the rest of the album as well, the musical approach takes a spin to industrial and to numerous alternations between heavy and soft, while Anneke becomes the star voice in songs like Warrior and Townsend gives us a taste of what’s to come on the second album during Silent Militia. Rain City is the longest track on the record and it’s also the one that flips a switch to progressive before we get back into the atmospheric industrial ballads near the end (Forever, Before We Die), at times maybe too long to almost reaching the point of unnecessary, as it’s the case of The Ones Who Love that can easily go unnoticed on this record with its lack of changes in pace and ingenuousness, giving the length of the record.

Devin Townsend Project

Let’s get to the part that most of us were excited to hear. The follow up to Ziltoid the Omnicient, Dark Matters provides us with some of the heavier stuff Devin Townsend ever did and an intricate plot to keeps us on the loop and entertained until the very last of the record. We have a new character, the War Princess, Ziltoid and Captain Spectacular in the center of the story while Devin does what he knows best: wow us with his dexterity and imagination. Z dramatically announces the beginning of the album with its pressing clock ticking and a sci-fi movie voice inviting us to “come in” before plunging into a rain of intense atypical drumming as a proof that Townsend gave his best for this follow up. During the next two songs (From Sleep Awake, Ziltoidian Empire) we find out the storyline and the main plot of the album under a hurricane of furious progressive riffs, an exploding double pedal drumming and asymmetrical, fast rhythm changes. A dramatic voice narrates us the warrior princess’s terrifying fate while it goes right into the princess’ tune (Warrior Princess) as Anneke magically comes in, intensely repeating “you’re part of me”. Warrior Princess is the star song on Dark Matters, featuring the talented vocals of Chris Jericho and Dominique Lenore Persi who deliberately incite us to lose ourselves both in the story, as in the instrumentals. Deathray and March of the Poozers allow us to go deeper into the story by following the same insane and devastating rhythm as before whilst taking an evil spin perfectly highlighted by Townsend’s passionate screams, the impeccable palm muted riffs and the occasional acoustic intermissions. The songs begin to achieve a more rounded texture around Ziltoid’s plans and destiny with the aid of some theatrical keyboards (March of the Poozers) and a hopeful tone (Earth). The last two songs on the album reveal Ziltoid’s secrets and backstabbing under the same sci-fi keyboard effects and allow the listener to fall back and enjoy the epic closing song (Dimension Z) echoing Townsend’s voice and featuring a more progressive guitar work that succeeds in narrating more than words.

 overwhelms you with the feeling that you’re actually in front of a theatre stage and can get slightly tiring because of its length. Nevertheless, each song flows easily into the next, as it continues the story.

The double album offers you a trip during which you go through a history of metal genres and all this over two albums. The listener is exposed to Devin Townsend’s incredible versatility and will be astounded by how well he’s able to transition between all the different styles. This is to show that you can’t limit Townsend to one genre as he is indeed a complete artist.

Tracklist:

Disc 1: The Devin Townsend Project – Sky Blue
1. Rejoice (4:16)
2. Fallout (4:30)
3. Midnight Sun (4:58)
4. A New Reign (4:52)
5. Universal Flame (4:39)
6. Warrior (3:31)
7. Sky Blue (3:52)
8. Silent Militia (4:28)
9. Rain City (7:45)
10. Forever (3:45)
11. Before We Die (8:24)
12. The Ones Who Love (1:32)

Total Time 56:32

Disc 2: Ziltoid/Z² – Dark Matters
1. Z² (3:59)
2. From Sleep Awake (3:00)
3. Ziltoidian Empire (6:25)
4. War Princess (8:17)
5. Deathray (4:43)
6. March of the Poozers (4:43)
7. Wandering Eye (3:40)
8. Earth (7:38)
9. Ziltoid Goes Home (6:20)
10. Through the Wormhole (2:10)
11. Dimension Z (6:13)

Total Time 57:08

Line-up:

* Devin Townsend – vocals, guitars
* Dave Young – guitars, keyboards
* Brian Waddell – bass
* Ryan Van Poederooyen – drums

With:

* Anneke van Giersbergen – backing vocals
* Chris Jericho – vocals (as “Captain Spectacular”)
* Dominique Lenore Persi – vocals (as “War Princess”)
* Randy Slaugh – live symphony, string arranging

Links:

http://www.ziltoid.com

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