DVD REVIEW: DEVIN TOWNSEND Presents: Ziltoid Live At the Royal Albert Hall
Devin Townsend has been something of an enigma, ever since he started belting out his solo records. I recall spending hours going through his tutorials on audio recording and using Toontrack software to make some cool sounds. His technical prowess withstanding, he is indeed a stickler for perfection as well as storytelling. What better way to tell the story of Ziltoid than the prestigious Royal Albert Hall.
Townsend delivers a stellar performance, bringing to life the tale of Ziltoid in a massive space opera, playing the Z2 album in it’s entirety for the first set, and then brining back a collection of older songs, voted for by the fans. The tale of Ziltoid itself is worthy of a chuckle, for which kid would not freak out at the concept of an coffee addicted alien, coming to Earth in search of a new planet. His skullduggery gets him into trouble with their War Princess and the story just gets better and better. It is as over the top as you might think it is, and more.
With Ziltoid Live, you get the whole concert experience, in HD. From puppets, to balloons , large creatures twiddling about on stage, it is indeed partly heavy metal opera, and partly heavy metal circus. It is safe to assume that Mr.Townsend does not cut any corners. There is enough behind the scenes material and bonus stuff to keep the nerd satisfied. The visuals compliment the audio and vice versa, as to share a symbiotic relationship.
Soaring choirs on top of moving orchestral pieces, enigmatic symphonies captivate you. The bottom end is all thick heavy guitars featuring Mr.Townsend and Dave Young , pounding bass featuring Brian Waddell and Ryan Van Poederooyen’s metronomic drum patterns that meander from heavy metal to power metal to ballad to progressive metal. The vocal duties predominantly feature Townsend doing what he does best, which is everything. From high pitched screams and shrieks to operatic vocals, everything hammed up to epic proportions. The role of ‘War Princess’ is played by Dominique Lenore Persi who does a fantastic job with her on-stage antics while still keeping that amazing singing on point.
The second set an all-fan-favourite list of songs voted for by the fans on the website. As the space opera has concluded, it’s back to business the focus on the music alone. The show is light hearted at best with Devin’s little stabs at his own persona, which in turn shows how swell of a guy he is. His humor reminded me of Mikael Akerledt from Opeth. The crowd interaction extended to a ‘how to’ guide on doing the ‘Jazz Hands’ during the song ‘Lucky Animals’.
It would be a crime to try and cherry-pick songs from the first set as it is supposed to be experienced as a long piece in its entirety, the songs ‘Bastard’, ‘Supercrush’, ‘Namaste’ and ‘Universal Flame’ stood out to me the most. The DVD also features audio commentary as Devin walks you through the whole process.
This is a well produced, conceptualized and executed endeavor. The sound, the images and the pacing of the show never feels dull or boring. This is one DVD that deserves to be on your shelf, one that I’d suggest you even dare to watch it with your teenage ward if you got one.