Devin Townsend is a Canadian musician and producer, arguably most famous for his extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad - although he is a very prolific solo artist as well. His solo stuff is far more melodic and tends towards all kinds of genres, particularly Industrial Metal and Progressive Metal.He's also completely bonkers in a Mad Artist sort of way and has a real affinity for the Rule of Funny, qualities that have earned him comparisons to Frank Zappa.Discography with Strapping Young Lad:
Creator Backlash: The song "Lucky Animals"; he's gotten sick of it because his kids and his friend's kids learned it and repeat it to him ad nauseum. (That said, he still performs it live, but he prefaces it by saying that the song sucks).
This was one of the reasons why Townsend stopped SYL; it became less about creating an outlet for his angst and more about fans wanting him to tell everyone to fuck off.
Breakdown 1: Checked into a mental hospital for bipolar disorder in 1998 after the release of Infinity.
Breakdown 2: Stopped taking bipolar medication during the writing of SYL's Alien.
Breakdown 3: Showed up at a press conference to announce that he was withdrawing from music to become a puppeteer. This would turn into Ziltoid the Omniscient.
Breakdown 4: Detoxed himself leading up to 2009's Ki, when he realized he had difficulty doing any writing without booze or weed. He also admitted to an internet porn addiction, calling it "worse than crack cocaine".
Digital Piracy Is Okay: Has said on his Twitter feed that he's not really bothered by people pirating his music because he still gets support from people who want him to continue performing music, which he regards as "a good job we're damn lucky to have. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I write music for ME because it's what I LOVE. And if it ever turns around financially, great... Why the hell would you want to be a musician if having people listen is so conditional? Support if you want, it costs a lot, but I luv it." See also here.
Flashback Fail: When trying to re-start SYL after (the failure at the time) Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, Townsend wound up meeting with Gene Hoglan of Death fame at a concert. Hoglan agreed to track some drums for the second record, but the next day when Townsend brings this up, Hoglan denies agreeing to this.
To be fair, he was pretty loaded during that night.
Fun with Acronyms: The song "S.Y.L." from Strapping Young Lad's first album Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing and their self-titled album which is also referred to as SYL.
Large Ham: Most of his spoken lines are overly dramatic and theatrical, specially on his solo albums. He's even known for Chewing the Scenery frequently during live concerts. During shows he'll also often throw in random monologues in character as Ziltoid, who, if possible, is even more of a Large Ham.
Lighter and Softer: Going from Strapping Young Lad, a Death/Thrash Metal band with industrial influences, to the Devin Townsend Project, playing genres that don't even come close to SYL.
Despite the above, averted with Ziltoid The Omniscient and Deconstruction, which are both Progressive Metal.
The Strapping Young Lad vinyl box set, which, if you're even remotely a fan, is amazing. It was released in four different editions, each of which had more material than the preceding tier (in addition to being coloured differently). All versions of the box set are now sold out. The vinyl masters also decreased the Loudness War tendencies of Strapping's material (although the clipping on Heavy and The New Black couldn't be completely eliminated due to the master tapes apparently having been lost). The LP editions of the individual albums are still available, although they're almost sold out of the label (Blood Music)'s U.S. store. The bonus material included with the box set will not be sold individually.
There was also a CD box set of the first four Devin Townsend Project albums (the latter two of these being remastered, as the original mixes hadn't been to Townsend's satisfaction) along with two discs of bonus material and (with some releases) a 7" with two additional songs.
Loudness War: Strapping Young Lad was a deliberate offender, invoking the trope to create as harsh and unrelenting a sound as possible. This has carried over to Townsend's solo work some as well; although he said around the release of Ki, "I officially pull my hat out of the Loudness Wars", the material has still been somewhat clipped (although his releases are nowhere near the worst offenders anymore).
Those voices you hear on Ziltoid the Omniscient? They're all him.
He goes from a heavy death metal growl to a pop-punk vocal style in Punky Brüster: Cooked On Phonics.
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Devin Townsend has made music that covers every possible degree. Most of Ki is 1-3 (reaching about 8 in a song or two) while most of SYL's songs could easily qualify as 10 or 11 ("Rape Song", "Oh My Fucking God", "Shitstorm").
Rule of thumb: Devin Townsend Band is 7-8, Strapping Young Lad is 10 to 11. Ziltoid, which is best described as a fusion of the two styles, falls at about a 9 depending on the song. The Devin Townsend Project is all over the scale - Ki is mostly 1-3, Addicted is 6-7, Ghost is a 1, and Deconstruction ramps up linearly from about a 2 on the first track to a 10 on the last.
Ziltoid the Omniscient: I'M ZILTOID!!!! I DON'T GIVE A SHIT!!! The only other curse words on the album are a barely audible use of the word "shitstorm" by the commander of Earth's troops and a muttered "shit" at 0:35 into "Tall Latte".
Ki: BE A GODDAMN MAN, BOY! One of his calmer examples.
Deconstruction: "SMOKE THAT FUCKING WEED, BOY!"
Epicloud: "THE TIME HAS COME TO FORGET ALL THE BULLSHIT AND ROCK!" note Townsend was intending for Epicloud to have no swears, and admits this to being the only instance of profanity.
Rule of Funny: Punky Brüster: Cooked on Phonics and Ziltoid the Omniscient are fueled by these. The songs on Strapping Young Lad's The New Black that aren't completely serious tend to fall towards this.
Scare Chord: Two songs from Strapping Young Lad's self-titled, "Dire Consequences" and "Bring On The Young"
Self-Backing Vocalist: Often does this to achieve a choir-like effect, can be heard on Ocean Machine: Biomech and Infinity, amongst others.
Did this with Anneke Van Giersbergen for Epicloud because she was going to be more or less unavailable for touring, making her parts on the album fairly repititous and quick. Van Giersbergen herself does this a lot with her parts on Addicted.
Talking to Himself: Devin did just about everything for Ziltoid the Omniscient. All singing parts, most of the spoken vocals, guitars, drums, bass, keyboards, production...
The Omniscient: Subverted by Ziltoid. He may be powerful, but if he was truly omniscient, he would not have run into the troubles he did.
Played straight by the Omnidimensional Creator. He sees everything. He also understands what Ziltoid must do when Ziltoid does not.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: A lot of Strapping Young Lad songs boil down to this. "Rape Song", for example, is a furious tirade against a rapist, while "S.Y.L." is a long list of all the reasons his old job sucked and how much better his life will be now that he isn't doing it anymore.
Parodied with "You Suck". There's no particular reason why you suck, you just do.