Thursday, March 4, 2010

Concept Albums: Ziltoid the Omniscient

Note: Before we go any further I should warn you: there's no free music here. And by "free," I mean "illegal." Not that I'm above such things, mind you. I've spent a few minutes surfing the Rapidshare waves for not entirely legal music downloads, myself. This just doesn't happen to be one of those posts.

Concept albums can be pretty amazing. Operation Mindcrime? Imaginos? Animals? Quadrophenia? All pretty terrific.

But there are a lot of them out there that suck. The format leans heavily toward melodrama and dramatic histrionics that are the antithesis of entertainment, and many a pretentious song writer has lost themselves in quagmires of self indulgence. I think you know who I'm talking about (and there's more than one.)

Devin Townsend steered clear of all that nonsense with his 2007 release Ziltoid the Omniscient, a concept album that wraps space opera, comic books and Douglas Adams-style satire in a Jim Henson-esque aesthetic. It's hilarious, but Townsend plays it straight and doesn't skimp on the song writing.

Don't expect a lot of depth and soul searching, though. Townsend's never been the kind of guy to stare longingly into the camera and express fake sentiment for its own sake. While there's some interesting emotional moments in the music (see below) most of this is a rip-roaring adventure about an omniscient alien who declares war on Earth because he needs the planet's supply of coffee to power his time-bending hyperdrive. He also knows how to shred, but is harboring a deep secret ... he's a nerd. What's not to love?

Below is a video for one of my favorite songs on the album, Hyperdrive.

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