Devin Townsend- Ziltoid the Omniscient (Inside Out Records)
What can be said about Devin Townsend that hasn't been said a thousand times before? The kooky Canadian has made some of the most brilliant, insane, and memorable metal and prog of the last decade. The man is undoubtedly a genius, but sometimes genius permits fallibility. Such seems the case with his new entirely solo full-length (written, performed, recorded, mixed, and produced by Devy).
The ideas all seem to be in place for what would make a classic Devin Townsend release: a massive range of vocals starting at a King Diamond falsetto and running through brutal death growls, a concept about an alien coming to Earth to secure the Omniverse's finest cup of coffee, characters named Ziltoid and Captain Spectacular, spacey acid rock guitar noodling, and Lombardo-worship drumming.
The problem is Devin's desire to take the album completely over the top, and succeeding a little too well. Everything is mega-amplified. Gang choir vocals, silly spoken parts in every song, and esoteric Canuck humor don't serve to enhance the recording; they merely hinder what are great basic song ideas by dressing them up with too much pretense. If Devin had stripped this album down to its core, it would have been one of the best prog metal releases of all time; the writing is that good. Unfortunately, he became so wrapped up in his Ziltoid character that the final product suffered.
Don't get me wrong, this space opera is good for more than just a few laughs, and will definitely have you banging your head and introspectively pondering at times. But it's just too over-the-top to listen to very often, and isn't relistening value the most important thing for an album? This is ultimately novelty metal, best enjoyed with a friend and/or a brew.