Ziltoid the Omniscient
is a heavy metal comedy album
by Devin Townsend
. Musically speaking, the album is actually pretty good. There isn't a single song that demands to be skipped, though many of them drag on for a while. Townsend doesn't seem to have a good sense of when a song needs to be wrapped up, though this may be part of the image he trying to put forward; namely, an overblown and dramatic parody of metal. Ironically, the album is a decent example of Opeth
-like progressive metal
. Of course, once you listen to even a single line of the lyrics, all attempts to treat the album seriously are out the window.
From beginning to end, Ziltoid the Omniscient is a concept album that tells the story of... hold on, let me stop laughing... an alien emperor from the fourth dimension named Ziltoid who wants to taste the Earth's best cup of coffee. Seriously. The album is about intergalactic warfare and coffee. The cleverness of the story is based on two key factors: firstly, the premise is already ridiculous, and secondly, with every song the story escalates in ridiculousness. There is a narrator as well as character voices, but most of the lyrics fill the role of the Greek theater's chorus, and describe the events of the story.
"I am so omniscient, if there were to be two omnisciences,
I would be both!"
The album begins with the intro track "ZTO" which sets up the story. Ziltoid makes his introduction: "I have come from far across the omniverse. You shall fetch me your universe's ultimate cup of coffee. Black! You have five Earth minutes. Make it perfect!" Then the story starts. Ziltoid gets his cup of coffee and is unimpressed
. He suspects the people of Earth "hide their finest bean", and decides to destroy the planet. With his legions of followers
(collectively referred to as Ziltoidia), the Omniscient crosses swords with the Earthling forces, led by Captain Spectacular.
"Hold your position! Ziltoid, he comes!"
As a silly guitar solo wails out, Ziltoid declares that he is "the greatest guitar player ever to have lived." At this point the story stops making sense
. At first it seemed like the whole thing was a musical
, a story set to song. Now, apparently, Ziltoid himself is playing the music? And what does guitar playing have to do with intergalactic warfare? This is the first of many times that the fourth wall is broken
"We now join Captain Spectacular as he introspectively gazes
out of his starship window, on his way to find the fifth dimensional Nebulo 9."
In a bizarre and pointless diversion, Captain Spectacular and the Earthlings escape, using hyperdrive to travel to Nebulo 9 for some reason. Unfortunately, they arrive to find that Ziltoid the Omniscient has followed them there. I assume there is a battle, and I assume the Earth wins
, but the lyrics divulge very little. After landing on Nebulo 9 and saying "Surprise!" the next thing he says is, "You have not seen the last of Ziltoid!" This illustrates a major flaw of the album. The plot is almost consistently unclear. The character voices are great, but they provide the bulk of the clarification. The rest of the lyrics are generic and vague, and may even make the album more complicated.
After suffering what I assume was a defeat at the hands of Captain Spectacular, Ziltoid summons the sixth dimensional being called the Planet Smasher. His ship is outfitted with a sonar awakening device that exists for exactly that purpose. Unfortunately, this mighty entity hates musicals, and refuses to indulge in any planet-smashing activities. Ziltoid goes to see the omnidimensional creator, who is a severely laid-back stoner type. He advises Ziltoid to chill. Ziltoid demands to know the true nature of his reality, and the creator tells him he is a puppet, indeed that they are all puppets.
Devin Townsend has been making the story more and more preposterous. First, Ziltoid attacks the Earth. Then the Earthling forces escape to Nebulo 9, whatever that is. After a battle (probably), Ziltoid awakens the sixth dimensional Planet Smasher, and when that plan doesn't work out, goes to see the creator of the Omniverse. How is Townsend going to end this story in a way that satisfies the constant ante-upping? The thing is, he doesn't.
After Ziltoid learns everyone is simply a puppet, there is a song called The Greys, which does not contribute to the story. It's more of a bonus track. After that is the final track, Tall Latte, in which it is revealed to the listener that the whole story involving Ziltoid was a daydream, imagined by a slacking coffeeshop worker. The character of Ziltoid was likely based on a particularly demanding customer.
While the first logical reaction is to brand this ending as a cop-out, it works well enough. It explains the plot holes (the battle of Nebulo 9), the pointless tangents (Ziltoid on guitar), and the unexplainable coffee-based premise. Daydreams can be entertaining without having to make sense, because they aren't real. Ziltoid the Omniscient isn't a true story, and it doesn't make much sense, but it is entertaining. After the first time you hear it, there is no disappointment in learning how it ends, and the songs hold up to repeated listens (in most cases). In any case, it's a pretty funny album, taken with a grain of salt. Or cream and sugar, or black.
By Your Command (8:09)
Ziltoidia Attaxx!!! (3:42)
Solar Winds (9:46)
Planet Smasher (5:45)
Omnidimensional Creator (0:48)
Color Your World (9:44)
The Greys (4:15)
Tall Latte (1:03)
Ziltoid The Omniscient - Devin Townsend - 2007 - HevyDevy