Devin Townsend‘s latest album “Z²” is a delight for any Devin fan. A two hour extravaganza exploring the incredible sound-scape that Devin has crafted in recent years.
Part I: Sky Blue
The first half “Sky Blue” is a continuation of the wide spanning ranges covered in “Epicloud” whilst the second half “Dark Matters” sees the long and aggressive return of Ziltoid in a much more theatrical way than before. Epicness is something Devin thrives on, ‘A New Reign’ and ‘Universal Flame’ are staple points for this whilst he is still a master of the riff and lord of the heavy, ‘Rejoice’, and ‘Silent Militia’, clearly display this aspect. The 9 minute ‘Rain City’ is definitely one of the more interesting tracks but by no means the best, it’s length warrants a deeper exploration. ‘Sky Blue’ too demonstrates Devin‘s willingness to experiment, with huge pop elements providing the makeup before settling again for the epic synthed up Devy classic.
Part II: Dark Matters
Enter the theatrics. What makes Devin brilliant is he clearly likes to have a laugh, but at the same time can create some staggeringly beautiful songs. “Dark Matters” is more akin with the former, where “Sky Blue” was exploratory “Dark Matters” continues the fantastically melodramatic saga of Ziltoid. By no means a comedy album, but the flamboyancy of such is great and grants the entirety of “Z²” the option of two moods to choose from, something few progressive artists have truly mastered. There’s still emotion and weight but the brilliant narration and ongoing dialogue in between songs grants the album a rare form of life. More-so than in his first appearance, this featuring of Ziltoid manages to make you feel more involved in the story.
As with the first half of “Z²” the choral sections, heavy guitar and expansive soundscapes are present. The vocal sections in the centre of ‘From Sleep Awake’ are perhaps some of the most emotive choral lines heard in a long while. It’s crafting very carefully and with great care, and it shows. The album has it’s great tracks, ‘Ziltoidian Empire’, ‘War Princess’ and ‘Earth’ probably being the most interesting, it does have the shorter tracks which are just as good and for that reason it is hard to listen to without listening from start to finish. It’s definitely a proper album in that sense. The adrenaline surge of ‘Ziltoid Goes Home’ is a fantastic way of entering the closing stages of the album.
It’s hard to pick key moments from this second half, but hopefully this struggle for words is a clear enough indicator for how good it is.
Devin Townsend is truly a master. If you weren’t convinced before you will be now, if you don’t know who he is listen to both halves of “Z²” and you won’t regret it. He’s hilarious, he’s heavy but more importantly he’s emotive and knows how to perfectly articulate his message.
Verdict – 9/10 – Maybe it should be a 10, who knows. That doesn’t take it away from how beautiful it is. Epic
Release Date: 27th October 2014