Review Summary: Townsend's first true solo effort proves to be a success despite some minor flaws.
Words could not describe the anguish that consumed the depths of my very being when on May 10th, 2007, Devin Townsend announced the demise of his DTB and SYL projects. As i sat in my parents basement, reading word for word the message posted on his forum, a crippling anger enveloped my normally relaxed demeanor. Palms shaky and sweating, i fought back tears and continued reading the words of Devin.
" I'm officially burnt out on travelling, touring, and self promotion. I love syl and dtb, and the members of those bands mean a great deal to me, but I have to do it for the love, when it becomes a burden, it's time to step away for a while."
Surely this was some sort of horrible joke. Now I would be doomed to recess to the remarkably embarrasing tastes of my youth. In a world without Townsend, Korn would become succesful again, with a timely re-release of the classic "Untouchables." Nu-Metal fans would roam the streets pushing their drunk friends in wheel-barrows, never bothering to shower as they raped citizens and pillaged surrounding businesses. Independent labels would force their artists to record High School Musical covers, and Joey Jordinson would be considered the epitome of what a drummer should be.
And then....the light. I kept reading.
"I want to produce and make records for an undetermined length of time. After Ziltoid, there will be no real interviews for as long as it takes for me to build up strength again." Devins reassurance of albums to come quickly subdued any visions i had of an apocalyptic future. I put down the blade pressed against my wrist and went back to surfing youporn. The world started turning again.
In all seriousness, I had alot of expectations for what this album should be. After all, being described as a combination of DTB and SYL set the bar pretty damn high. So after several thorough and complete listens, Ive concluded this album is a success, but contains a few flaws that keep it from achieving the status of past Townsend works.
First the bad...
About the programmed drumming. I respect the intelligence it takes to work a drum kit, to hear the beats in your head, and translate that onto a computer screen. But it really becomes exhausting only a few tracks into the album. Tracks like "Hyperdrive" and "The Greys" execute the drum-kit from hell particularly well, but others, such as "By Your Command" and "Solar Winds" contain sections of drumming that, while complicated, ultimately distract the listener from whats happening with the other instruments.
There are also some sections on the album, particularly on the track, "Color Your World," that recycle riffs from past albums. I dont know if Townsend's intentions were to purposely allude to his past works, but it comes off as a bit tacky or as if he didnt know how to transition the song.
Now while this review may at this point seem like a negative one, i want to stress that some parts of the album really soar, and rival his best work to date. "Hyperdrive" has a beautiful chorus and is without a doubt the best song on the album. "By Your Command" works on a progressive level, because not only does it proficiently execute several sections with different melodies, but each melody or "hook" if you will, is just damn good. And thats what makes this album so enjoyable for me. If you really sit down and listen, most of the album will get stuck in your head; There is an abundance of memorable riffs and melodies that make each track a distinct and pleasant experience.
As is standard for any Townsend outing, the production is outstanding, al biet the drums. Devin has one of those voices that you either love or hate. I find it to be powerful and emotional, even when the lyrics are as silly as they are. But regardless of the words flowing forth, there is a crispness and intensity that at times gives me chills. There are audible bass parts throughout and its interesting to see what Townsend has done with the synth layers when left to his own vices.
Now ive read alot of complaints regarding the concept, and honestly Im indifferent to it. If you truly get and appreciate the music, the concept of Ziltoid wont take away or even cause you to gain anything for that matter.
This is my first review and im at a loss for a proper ending.