Man, machine, or mad genius? If anything, Devin Townsend is prolific and unstoppable. Approaching the creation of Z2, somewhere around his 30th recording and a double CD at that, Townsend said he created 50 songs. Thankfully, for us (or perhaps not if you're a hevydevy demonoid), he used only 23 songs. I guess he could have just nuked us with four CD set including all the songs. I shouldn't give him any ideas.
Z2 is divided between Sky Blue and Dark Matters. Sky Blue is akin to recent material found within The Retinal Circus and is likely made for one of Townsend's audio-visual extravaganzas. The music is epic, lavish, and overwhelming built upon Townsend's Spectorish wall of sound riffage, immense orchestration, and hymnlike vocal arrangements, all wrapped up in groove and basic heaviness. The vocal arrangements include include Anneke Van Giersbergen's lilting vocals fighting against the riffage like a drowning man trying to reach the surface for air. To be fair, Sky Blue has some lighter moments as within the title track. If you pumped in some more blast beats, perhaps some rave electronica, the album could sound like some form of industrial disco dance music. Yet, and here's the thing: Townsend has this uncanny ability to fuse his massive layers of heaviness with a keen sense of melody. It makes for an interesting listening experience.
As does Dark Matters, where Townsend revisits the tale of his ironic and sarcastic space alien Ziltoid (the Omniscient). Whereas the first album of the same name was low budget and nearly lo-fi, in Dark Matters, our quirky alien visitor gets the Cecil B. DeMille treatment, but in a modern sense. More like Lucas and Speilberg wrapped up in J.J. Abrams and visited by Antoine Fuqua. As for the story, you can check out Devin's web presence or watch the video below which give a moderate amount of information and confusion. With some elements similar to Sky Blue, this album probably travels a more progressive metal road. But it's equally dense and immense in composition and, again, built more for both audio and visual elaboration in a concert venue near you. It's also filled out with some voice parts of Ziltoid, of course, and others, and some narration to keep the story moving. You have to listen carefully to some of this, especially if you want to catch the humor in Ziltoid's character. I'm guessing, or hoping, some of this is included in the booklet accompanying the CDs.
All in all, both Sky Blue and Dark Matters, the two parts of Z2, are elaborate adventures embellished by Devin Townsend's vivid musical imagination and inherent sense of theater. Recommended.
Both Sky Blue and Dark Matters, the two parts of Z2, are elaborate adventures embellished by Devin Townsend's vivid musical imagination and inherent sense of theater. Recommended.
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