Devin Townsend – Z2


The return of the connoisseur of the finest black coffee from the Fourth Dimension

Review by Raymond Westland


Release date: 27 October 2014

Slowing down or taking a break are two things which are completely absent in Devin Townsend’s vocabulary. Ever since he quit drinking and narcotics his creative spark reached fever pitch. This culminated into an impressive body of work, including several albums under the Devin Townsend Project moniker and other projects such as Ziltoid The Omniscient and Casualties Of Cool. Devy’s latest creation sees the return of a certain omniscient connoisseur of the finest black coffee from the Fourth Dimension…

Yes, Z2 marks the return of Ziltoid The Omniscient in what best can be described in a warped musical version of Star Wars and War Of The World brought up to strength with lots of Westside Story type of cheesiness. This makes up the bulk of Dark Matters, aka the heavy bastard of Z2. The second disc, entitled Sky Blue, is ae lighter, more straightforward Devin Townsend Project release, very much in vein of Addicted! and Epicloud. In a weird way this whole yin yang thing is very reminiscent of what Devin did when he recorded Accelerated Revolution and the self-titled Strapping Young Lad album at the same time back in 2003. Let’s discuss Dark Matters first.

Apart from Deconstruction, Dark Matters features the heaviest material Devin has released in several years. Unlike the first Ziltoid record, this album is recorded with a full band. This really shows on tracks like ‘Ziltoidian Empire’, ‘Deathray’ and ‘March Of The Poozers’, which sees Devin’s backing band fire on all cylinders. Combine this with a massive choir, a wall of guitars which mirrors the Great Wall of China and a narrated story line which can easily rival the overall cheesiness of any given Steven Seagal movie. Drummer Ryan van Poederooyen does an admirable job, although it would have been very interesting to see what Strapping Young Lad alumni Gene Hoglan could have done with the Ziltoid material. Dark Matters is definitely the more interesting of the two discs that make up Z2.

As previously mentioned Skye Blue is made of more ethereal songs very much in vein of Epicloud and Addicted!. This notion is further strengthened by the return of Anneke van Giersbergen as a guest vocalist. Despite Sky Blue doesn’t feel like a bunch of recycled leftovers like the aforementioned Epicloud album, it simply doesn’t add something new to the existing Devin Townsend back catalogue, unlike Ki, Ghost, Terria and Casualties Of Cool. There’s still plenty to enjoy on tracks like ‘Rejoice’, ‘Universal Flame’ and ‘Rain City’, but as a whole Sky Blue doesn’t complement its companion disc and it would have made more sense as a standalone release.

As a whole Z2 is an interesting release by Devin Townsend with Dark Matters being the strongest of the two discs. Sky Blue is a nice venture into the Devin Townsend Project territory, but it doesn’t offer any new musical angles or insights as far as the song material goes. Even for musical geniuses like Devin Townsend quantity over quality isn’t always the most prudent thing to do…

Devin Townsend – Z27 out of 10

Sky Blue:

  1. Rejoice
  2. Fallout
  3. Midnight Sun
  4. A New Reign
  5. Universal Flame
  6. Warrior
  7. Sky Blue
  8. Silent Militia
  9. Rain City
  10. Forever
  11. Before We Die
  12. The Ones Who Love

Dark Matters:

  1. Z2
  2. From Sleep Awake
  3. Ziltoidian Empire
  4. War Princess
  5. Deathray
  6. March Of The Poozers
  7. Wandering Eye
  8. Earth
  9. Ziltoid Goes Home
  10. Through The Wormhole
  11. Dimension Z