Sound — 9
Devin never fails to pound us in the a-se with walls of sound, accompanied by thick bursts of distortion and echo, all ground into a concoction of madness and delight. He is on a whole new level in songs such as "N9" and "By Your Command." One would think that Devin "cheats" to produce such an insanely difficult arrangement of music like bands such as DragonForce (nothing against DragonForce, don't worry.) But you'll soon find everything he plays isn't necessarily tampered with.His guitar is coated in effects, but that's about it.
In short, every guitar riff is detailed to fit the context of the song, and every drum beat (programmed in by himself) can surprisingly work with every song on the album. The bass work is nothing terribly special, but as a bassist I can tell Devin has put some work into giving the bass it's own little short segments in songs such as "Colour Your World." (Devin plays everything in the album, just so you know.) Sometimes, the thick layerings from the album can be a bit too much for the tired mind, hence why I've knocked one mark off. Nothin' personal Dev.
Lyrics — 7
"Seven, what do you MEAN a SEVEN!?"
The lyrics didn't do it for me, I am sorry to say. Devin rehashed a couple of verses from previous albums like "Ocean Machine," which was a massive turn off for me since it felt like he was cheating us a little. Don't be fooled though, the lyrics ARE pretty good. But sometimes you just listen to a song like "Hyperdrive" and think to yourself "Y'know, another new line in that verse could really texturize the vibe so much more..."
On the other side of the spectrum...
DEVIN. IS. A. VOCAL. GOD. Forget Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford, forget Ozzy Osbourne and Michael Kiske, Devin Townsend is easily the best male vocalist I've ever heard. And that's a VERY hard competition (listen to the first verse of "Kingdom" by Devin, and tell me that he can't sing). Not only can he provide big pushes of raw vocal power, but he can scream like a bloody newborn. If I met him, I'd ask him how the hell his throat hasn't dried out and torn. I must admit that sometimes he really can't beat a dose of good ol' vocalists like Rob, Bruce and Kiske, but damn... he is talented.
Overall Impression — 9
If you told me that a coffee drinking alien from another dimension starred in a concept album, I would immediately lose hope for the metal community, but it works in a magnificent context. Ziltoid, the alien protagonist, represents a little creature within us all. Hatred, self-loathing and jealousy, he's a teeny weeny green goblin that we all have had at some point during the week, or even the day.
It's punchline at the last track "Tall Latte" left me staring at my bedroom wall for a full half hour, contemplating on how odd, and how vast our life is. I don't want to spoil anything... so SPOILER ALERT, I REPEAT, SPOILER ALERT!!!
Ziltoid discovers that he is merely a puppet in the mind of a human, and that his existence is a made up fantasy, Ziltoid is still a conscious being though, so he reacts with horror and terror stricken in his eyes. It really makes you wonder about our own mortality, are we just on a sub-level compared to something greater? Is this earth some sort of lie? It is a very thought-provoking album, if you let your mind wander.
This brings me to the next point. Devin Townsend is a genius when it comes to taking you on journey into his mind, he can transition his thoughts extremely well through his voice and guitar. In songs such as "Planet Smasher" and "The Greys" you hear the emotion, you hear the characters shrieking and talking, you feel their sorrows, their anger and pride. He picks out a cast of characters and messes around with them in such a way, that it entails such an emotional journey.
But... the album could just be about an uptight alien who gets p-ssed off with everything. Eh.
Love the concept, love the feeling, love everything!... except from this one little thing... I mean, he writes good lyrics, but what the heck does any of the lyrics link with? I mean, songs like "The Greys," "Colour Your World" and "ZTO" are self explanatory, but some lyrics in songs like "The Planet Smasher" and "Hyperdrive" just don't seem to make much sense in any kind of context. In Devin's defense, most songs don't usually have strict lyrics. So I guess that's something. All in all, a very solid and wonderful album.