A metal icon, a prog innovator, and now the progenitor of the modern rock opera?!?! It’s true! Devin Townsend adds another chit to his belt with the beyond epic Z2 double album. Yep, you read that right: Double. Album. Years in the making and finally fully realized thanks to fans who over-contributed to Townsend’s Casualties Of Cool campaign, Z2 is the epitome of all that has come over the last several years. There’s bits of the 4 album concept in here along with Epicloud and even hints of Casualties Of Cool.
But is it amazing or overkill? As a fan who journeyed to London in 2012 for The Retinal Circus one off I can safely say I’m not a casual fan so finding myself agreeing with the latter breaks my heart a wee bit. That’s not to say the album is bad. It’s not. But if you look at what’s come since the original Ziltoid… was released in 2007 (5 full-lengths, Casualties, and 3 box sets…all of which I own), there’s a lot of music to consume especially when you consider most of his releases have expanded editions with even more tunes.
And again, it’s not a bad album but it can feel a bit much more often than not but luckily they’re split in a way so that fans can enjoy one without the other if needed: There’s Dark Matters which is the sequel to Ziltoid The Omniscient (A bonus version of Z2 features this album without any of the speaking lines in between songs making for a whole other musical experience) and Sky Blue which is essentially the sixth DTP record.
In line with Addicted musically, Sky Blue is big. Big choruses, big riffs, big songs! “Fallout” really captures the magic of that album perfectly but it’s “Rejoice” which opens the album that really rips it out of the park and also reintroduces listeners to the angelic Anneke Van Giersbergen who contributes vocals once again. Elsewhere, “Midnight Sun” hearkens back to Infinity with its slow moving yet massive sonic passages while “Silent Militia” is a riff-fueled techno stomp that’ll have fans on their toes.
Dark Matters is a different beast altogether. For fans yearning for more Ziltoid, this one’s for you for sure. If you liked Deconstruction and need some semblance of Strapping Young Lad in your life then pay attention! From the moment “Z2” begins with monologues and a cacophonous wall of noise it’s like listeners are instantly transported to Ziltoid’s world. Regardless of the story happening here (Ziltoid did something dumb and the Earth is paying for it), the music is pretty fantastic. Whether it’s the Anneke-led “From Sleep Awake” or the hyper attack of “Deathray” and “Ziltoid Goes Home” (Which share the most lineage with SYL), Dark Matters is sure to satisfy not only Ziltoid fans but fans of Townsend’s heavier aspects.