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Devin Townsend - 'Z²' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/88/4b/aa/Devin-Townsend-Z2-87-1420924167.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 10, 2015    
 
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Whether you are a Metal extremist or a Melodic Proggy like me, there will be something for you to enjoy in here.

This double-disc album is the second part of 'Ziltoid The Omniscient'; knowing that gave me reason for concern, as I own the first part and that leans very heavily on the very heavy side, which is not my favourite side of Townsend's stuff. I like the more Progressive, majestic and anthemic approach with his music and I didn't expect 'Z2' to contain any. So, I put the album on expecting my head to start crumbling from the barrage of drum beats per second that usually features in that side of his music (please note that the two discs on my download (disc one – 'Sky Blue' & disc two – 'Dark Matters') were labelled the opposite way so I started on disc two).

I was pleasantly surprised when the sound of a choir quickly came out of the speakers closely followed by a welcoming narrator. And when the music really started with 'From Sleep Awake', it wasn't as heavy as I expected. It was big and majestic, typically "project" Prog stuff, just the thing I like. I was also very pleased to hear that Townsend has incorporated Anneke van Giersbergen once more on vocals, as her voice is an ideal compliment to his music. We get introduced to new characters such as the 'Poozers,' who are the offspring of Queen Blataria (aka "The War Princess") who is, let's say, quite angry. Listen carefully to 'War Princess,' and you will hear something that wouldn't sound out of place in 'The Wizard Of Oz', while 'March Of The Poozers' has a bit of Vaudeville in there... and it's brilliant. We also meet two more new characters, in 'Wandering Eye'; 'Captain Spectacular' and 'The Planet Smasher'. 'Ziltoid Goes Home' is probably the nearest we get to the heavier Strapping Young Lad-type music, and yes, the drums do go at a million beats a minute but there is still a nice chorus in there. 'Dimension Z' is totally "project" material; big sound, lots of choir and what purports to be the end of the story. Well it should have been, but for me the beginning was now the end.

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What should have been disc one starts off not too heavily with 'Rejoice,' which is a really solid Metal track, but it makes sense and doesn't blow your head off. 'Fallout' is one of those typically brilliant, catchy tunes that Townsend is so good at, while 'Midnight Sun' is a Melodic Prog classic that will see lighters-in-the-air at future shows. 'A New Reign' is very much the same, in more ways than one, as it is quite similar during the chorus. 'Universal Flame' is another in the vein of 'Fallout' and the two voices of Townsend and van Giersbergen work really well together. 'Warrior' has another one of those massive, majestic choruses, while 'Sky Blue' starts innocently before stamping its authority all over you. And there is always one track that really stands out, the one that you play to all your mates and, if there was still such a viable thing as a Rock single, this would be it; that song is 'Before We Die.'

What Townsend has done with this album,is successfully go straight down the middle of his two different sides on 'Matters', but he comes up with probably his best melodic album to date with '...Blue'. Bear in mind also, that this album incorporates one of Townsend's little experiments in the Universal Choir, which involves around two thousand voices, which were sent to him from fans around the world via t'internet, all mixed to form this experimental choir. You can't spot the joins, so we have to declare it a success.

As ever, Devin Townsend has come up with an album that you will just have to have in your collection. Whether you are a Metal extremist or a Melodic Proggy like me, there will be something for you to enjoy in here.

Andy Brailsford

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