When we first met the Fourth Dimensional Guitar Hero, Ziltoid The Omniscient, he was on a journey across the Omniverse to find the ultimate cup of coffee. His journey had led him to the little blue planet named Earth. His efforts were fruitless when the humans gave him less than he desired, he attacked with his Ziltoidian army. The venerable Captain Spectacular sets out to Nebula 9 to find Ziltoid after his eventual departure, only to be tailed by him instead. During Captain Spectacular’s moment of vulnerability Ziltoid shows off his power by summoning the legendary Sixth-Dimensional Planetsmasher. The Planetsmasher wants nothing to do with Ziltoid in the end, explaining his hatred for musicals being the reason. This causes Ziltoid to resort to other methods of dealing with the humans. He visits the Omnidimensional Creator, who gives Ziltoid the most catastrophic news he could ever receive: the fact that he is a puppet. In the end, we find out Ziltoid was only the figment of a tired barista’s imagination, the repetition of his day creating the story of a coffee loving alien.
Fast forward to 2014, Ziltoid returns, only now we find out he is, in fact, real. Having never actually attacked the Earth, he forms an uneasy alliance with the humans through Captain Spectacular. Somewhere around the time of this alliance being at it’s peak, Ziltoid sneaks away to the planet Titan and kidnaps a creature known as a “Poozer”. The Poozers are the children of the war princess Blataria. The moment she finds out Ziltoid kidnapped him, is where the story truly begins, and yes, coffee is still a central point of the story.
Devin Townsend has been well known to have a sense of humor within his music. Between the first Ziltoid album, Deconstruction, and his old Ass-sordid demos, this should come as no surprise to long time fans. Z2: Dark Matters is the next chapter in Ziltoid’s story and it couldn’t be a more grandiose sequel. The flow and storytelling are far beyond the first album, while the layering of instrumentation is only on par with that of Deconstruction. Dark Matters also happens to be the only metal album ever presented to the listener as an old fashion radio play; ala War of the Worlds.
Since disbanding Strapping Young Lad, Devin has not done much in the way of “heavy” music outside of Deconstruction and the first Ziltoid album, but Dark Matters seems to harken back to more of the Strapping Young Lad days in many parts, most of all in ‘Ziltoid Goes Home’, which may as well have been a song off of City. ‘Deathray’ recalls Ziltoid’s invasions of Earth off the first album by an almost one to one intro, though the similarities between the songs end there. Z2 is not as technical as the first album, by any stretch. The songs are all crafted in a way that they utilize everything Devin knows how to do well, including the occasional use of earworm riffs and melodies you’ll be singing for weeks after first listen. The use of a third party narrator outside of Devin/Ziltoid and the inclusion of different voices, like that of former wrestler and Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho as Captain Spectacular, along with Stolen Babies vocalist Dominique Lenore Persi as the War Princess add to the overall quality of Z2 in comparison to its predecessor, giving the characters more personality.
The album needs to be listened to in order in a single sitting, preferably on a system that allows one to hear the most detail given the extremely dense compositions, and many spoken word story elements. A special edition of the album is also being released with the dialog cut out, which may be the version many fans prefer in the end. Z2: Dark Matters is a monumental release by one of metal’s most affluently creative musicians, truly encapsulating everything he has done up to this point in his career. Fans of Z1 will find themselves giggling throughout, and in the end catch a good few throwbacks to story elements from the first album, sure to make them crack a smile.
Devin Townsend Project’s Dark Matters gets…