The Z² project is easily the most anticipated album of Devin Townsend's career. Fans have been asking for a Ziltoid sequel for years and after his “Casualties of Cool” album raised FIVE times its Crowdfunding goal, Devin used the surplus to fully realize his vision; it had to be bigger and crazier than the first one. The sequel is represented by one of the two discs in this
Z² package: “Dark Matters.” As a bonus, he recorded a full Devin Townsend Project album called “Sky Blue,” which I’ll get to in a bit.
“Dark Matters” is the action film Devin fans deserve. There is a lot of dialogue on this disc. The narration sounds like that guy who narrates all the movie trailers, which adds to the cinematic feel of the album. Other guests include wrestler-turned-singer Chris Jericho as Captain Spectacular and Stolen Babies vocalist Dominique Lenore Persi as the War Princess. Persi has a great voice and range; she is a big part of the album. Jericho is a non-factor, really; the part could have been played by anyone.
It’s hard to judge this album on musical merits, to a certain degree, because of the abundance of dialogue. Since it’s a plot-heavy album, it does make sense to have dialogue, but I will be very interested to hear the version Devin is releasing in the deluxe version with all the dialogue removed.
The plot is quite funny and I won’t give it away. Devin says it’s “stupid,” but I think it’s just a fun album that needs to be listened all at once. Only a few of the tracks really can be listened to outside of the whole, but that appears to be the intention. “War Princess” features Persi and is a showcase for her talents, and it works fairly well on its own. “Deathray” and the closing epic “Dimension Z” also work well as standalone songs.
The other disc is called “Sky Blue” and it’s similar in some ways to the last DTP album, “Epicloud.” The main difference between the two is that “Epicloud” was a fun album, whereas “Sky Blue” deals with the darker side of life with which we all have to deal. In an interview I recently had with Devin, he said he couldn’t just write a happy record with all the “shit” that was going on in his life.
Of the two albums, I connect with “Sky Blue” because it is more personal than anything he has done to date. It has the elements of each of the last DTP albums. There’s plenty of pop-metal like the two opening tracks, “Rejoice” and “Fallout,” but also quieter, reflective moments like “Midnight Sun” and the title track. It even has massive, sing-along moments like “Universal Flame” and “Before We Die.” Basically it has every type of song Devin has done in some shape or form.
Devin is a modern-day musical genius. There are only a few people in the history of rock and metal who approach the level at which he is performing right now. Frank Zappa comes to mind. Devin has the ability to write any type of song or any style and still make it his own.
Z² is another shining moment in a long history of greatness from Devin Townsend. His fans will be extremely pleased with this package because it covers everything they’ve grown to love about the man and his music.