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Devin Townsend Project: Z2

Canadian powerhouse let down by the puppet show.

Devin Townsend is a fucking idiot. Across his 20-plus album career, this 42-year-old Boy Wonder has built a reputation as one of rock’s last mavericks standing.

Leather-strapped noise, blissful ambient-metal, twisted country-rock, strontium-plated space-jazz – it would seem that nothing is out of his grasp. And then the silly bastard does something like this. A double concept album, Z2 is an unwelcome sequel to 2007’s equally ill-judged Ziltoid The Omniscient, itself a heroically unfunny tale of an alien puppet in search of the “ultimate cup of coffee”. If ever an album didn’t deserve a follow-up, it’s that one.

This rancid arse-blockage of an idea clogs up the whole of the second half of this album, dubbed Dark Matter (210). If you’re in the market for 50-odd minutes of zany voices, puppet-based ‘gags’ and wacka-wacka Canadian humour, then step right up. Anyone who isn’t a clinical imbecile might want to give it a miss.

The grating thing is that first half of Z2 approaches brilliance. Sky Blue (810) – or disc one, to give it its traditional title – is prime Townsend, locating, with some help from former Gathering singer Anneke Van Giersbergen, a brand new strand of crystalline shoegaze-metal DNA amid the industrial pummelling. It casts the rest of the album in a truly shocking light and suggests that even the most visionary of mavericks need a slap around the ear once in a while./o:p

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.