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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