Z2 (short for Ziltoid 2) is a double album by Canadian musician Devin Townsend and his muscial project Devin Townsend Project. It was released on 27 October, 2014 via InsideOut. The first disc is a Devin Townsend Project album Sky Blue and the second disc is a Ziltoid concept album Dark Matters, the latter a sequel to Devin's 2007 solo album Ziltoid The Omniscient. The theme of the double, according to Devin, is "ziltoid against the world". The record was released in various formats: a 4 LP vinyl edition, a three-disc limited edition and a standard two-disc edition.
Obviously if you've ever loved Strapping Young Lad you will love what Devin has put out and been putting out since 1995 with Strapping Young Lad's début album Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing right until this present day. It's hard not to mention the words like "genius" or other such words that represent the wonderful output of music he has brought us over the years. Right from Strapping Young Lad to his solo work, to the Devin Townsend Band, to the Devin Townsend Project and even this year's Casualties of Cool record, Devin has amassed an amazing body of work.
z2 is one of those records that everyone has waited for and the return of the famous Ziltoid. If you've ever listened to the first album, you'll definitely know where Ziltoid 2is heading, although it is what I would call quirky. So, in order to make this review simpler I will review Sky Blue first and then Dark Matters.
Disc 1: Sky Blue
Over the years, under the guise of Devin Townsend Project, Devin and his amazing band have released some amazing albums. Whether it be the heavy and bombastic as you would hear on Deconstruction (to me the best album Devin has put out with the Devin Townsend Project) or the mellow and lighter tones of Ghost. The real truth is that no matter what Devin puts out musically - heavy or quiet - it will always be brilliant. Sky Blue follows on from Epicloud (2012) and it follows down the same path of offering heavy melodies whilst trying to keep that 'pop' element running through it.
"Rejoice" starts off Sky Blue in spectacular fashion, a few ambient noises and then follows the word 'fight' and the music enters. On the whole, Sky Blue is a great record full of fantastic musical moments, but I overall I feel that it's the weaker album of Ziltoid 2, although I could be wrong about that.
If anything, Sky Blue didn't grab me all that much. It's a great album but it doesn't have enough to warrant my attention for long. It's not a slant against the music or the technical ability of Devin and his band, it's just that overall I find Sky Blue a record which has only a few good songs on it. Apart from the one below, there are other good tunes on the album such as "Fallout", "Universal Flame" and "Silent Militia".
Disc 2: Dark Matters
For many people, including myself, Dark Matters was what we really wanted to hear. What would the follow up to 2007's Ziltoid The Omniscient sound like? When the Casualties of Cool crowd-funding rose so much that Devin used the money left over to fund Ziltoid 2 then really the fans have paid for what they've got. Again, you need to really understand that on the first listen or two you have to know what the previous album sounded like. It's a concept album, which means that it has a story running throughout the album - Ziltoid comes to earth, brings a poozer with him, the poozer escapes and runs back to the War Queen who then attacks ("War Princess". the infectious and groovy "Deathray"), Ziltoid and the humans unite, and eventually Ziltoid disappears to an unknown planet with the War Princess with the words "to be continued" sending a clear message there will another Ziltoid album in the future.
It also has narration which is really a throwback in many ways to the old '60's and '70's radio shows, mostly like War of the Worlds. On the first few listens, I didn't really understand what was going on - probably like most people - but once you get used to the commentary, story and the music, it actually turns into a great and hilarious album. Devin said after the first Ziltoid record that "metal and comedy do not mix" and I would like to say that he was dead wrong.
Everytime I listen to this album it tickles my funny bonus. Whether it be the narrator's commentary that gets me, or Ziltoid's commentary and his conversations with Captain Spectacular (Chris Jericho), I end up in fits of giggles.
The story is absolutely fantastic. Dark Matters is definitely the better album of Ziltoid 2 and it really shows as I haven't stopped listening to it.
Overall, Ziltoid 2 is a fantastic album and I feel that it's an album funded by the fans and made for the fans. Although I feel that Dark Matters is better than Sky Blue, I feel that you can look at the record as a whole. Sky Blue is about the humans uniting in their humanity and trying to find hope in this sudden invasion, whilst Dark Matters tells of Ziltoid's fight with War Princes, the Poozers and Captain Spectacular. It's another amazing record by Devin Townsend Project.