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:
Berserk Button: Averted COMPLETELY when the fans asked about the return of SYL.
Invoked in both Ziltoid The Omniscient and Z2 with the character of the Planet Smasher. He hates musicals.
Brick Joke: The Planet Smasher's hatred of musicals is a brief "Oh, by the way" moment when first brought up in Ziltoid The Omniscient. In Z2, meanwhile, comes back in "Through The Wormhole" as Ziltoid starts singing "Memory".
Cherubic Choir: An interesting example comes in the form of the hook from "Rejoice" on Z2. On its own, the hook can be interpreted as uplifting, positive and angelic. The thing is, the track its playing over is the discordant, heavy sound that people would expect from Devin Townsend Project, making for an appealingly-bizarre effect of contrast.
At a Cryptic Coronor gig, at the start of the album, the lead guitarist breaks a string. They turn this into an Origin Story.
At the end of the album, Punky Bruster performs their hit song live on the Granny Awards, and mid-song, they revert to their Death Metal origins, utterly destroying their ill-gotten success.
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.
Additionally, when Z2 leaked, the only thing he was concerned about was that some of the songs may not have been their final mixes.
Disproportionate Retribution: The reason why the title character of Ziltoid The Omniscient let loose an invasion fleet on Earth? The cup of coffee he requested from them was "fetid" to him.
Distinct Double Album: Z2 is two VERY different albums: Sky Blue, which is the Devin Townsend Project that fans are more familiar with, and Dark Matters, which is another goofy rock opera about Ziltoid.
Fake Band: The main characters of Cooked On Phonics.
Fartillery: In "Ziltoidian Empire" on Z2, it's strongly implied that this is how Poozers get around, as evidenced by the sound of one Poozer making its way home.
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.
Taken Up to Elevenon the cover◊ of Dark Matters from Z2. The Planet Smasher is that furry blue rabbit-like creature near Ziltoid.
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.
Gainax Ending: Ziltoid The Omniscient starts off as a straightforward tale of the titular alien overlord invading Earth after their coffee didn't live up to his standards. Around "Omnidimensional Creator", Ziltoid becomes more and more aware of his insecurities to the point where he gets in touch with the titular Creator, and experiences the true nature of his reality within the context of the whole universe over the course of three tracks. Then, the final track, "Tall Latte" reveals that the whole thing was all in the mind of a bored Starbucks employee. According to Devin himself, this sudden Genre Shift was a Take That at fans who misinterpret the meanings of his lyrics.
Dark Matters, the sequel to Ziltoid The Omniscient that forms the second half of Z2, ends in a strange way as well. After the celebrations of Ziltoid saving the world using the Planet Smasher, it is revealed that through the wormhole, Ziltoid is sitting on a moon made of dust alongside the war princess, and in between them is a bag of coffee.
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.
Last Note Nightmare: The lengthy scream from the ending of "Thing Beyond Things", the final track on Ocean Machine: Biomech. Especially disheartening, as this comes after a ten-second silence after one of the much more relaxing songs on the album.
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). He finally actually averted the Loudness War with Casualties of Cool, which is a DR10 master and sounds great.
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 ("Rape Song", "Detox", "All Hail The New Flesh") or 11 ("Shitstorm", "Oh My Fucking God").
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.
Mind Screw: The tail end of Ziltoid The Omniscient. The reason why the album moves from a comedic Space Opera to Ziltoid questioning the state of the universe before being revealed to be a figment of a coffee shop worker's imagination is supposedly, according to Word of God, symbolic of how his fans misinterpret his songs.
Must Have Caffeine: In the track "ZTO", Ziltoid orders the humans to make to him the ultimate cup of black coffee in five minutes, or he will destroy the Earth.
Further explored in Z2. Supposedly Coffee has an unlimited energy potential that the Ziltoidians would love to claim as their own.
My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Ziltoid in Z2. He's an individual that came out of the Ziltoidian collective, and is not very good at hiding his distain or general unwillingness for working for the collective.
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.
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.
The Reveal: The Gainax Ending to Ziltoid The Omniscient reveals that the whole thing was taking place in the mind of a bored Starbucks employee.
In "Through The Wormhole" on Z2, it's revealed that Captain Spectacular is Ziltoid's half-brother.
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.
Self-Deprecation: Frequently throughout his live performances. Regularly introduces the Solo from Life as "The Shittiest guitar solo I ever wrote."
Sell Out: The whole plot of Punky Bruster - Cooked on Phonics is built around a Polish Death Metal band selling out their metal sound for something more Punk Rock.
Shout-Out: One directly to Meshuggah in Planet of the Apes
Soprano and Gravel: All over the place. The best example is "Planet Smasher" from Ziltoid the Omniscient.
Suddenly Voiced: Inverted in the case of the Planet Smasher. In Ziltoid The Omniscient, he has his own song and lines of dialogue. Fast-forward 14 years later to Dark Matters, and his only line written in the album's booklet is, "ROOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR!"
Surprisingly Gentle Song: Strapping Young Lad's "Almost Again" and "Two Weeks" are way less heavy than the surrounding material. "Polyphony" too, although that's really more of an intro.
Subverted with "Bring On The Young".
Stylistic Suck: Cryptic Coronor (from Cooked on Phonics) is not only a piss-poor, laughable Death Metal band, you can barely hear their song over the sound of the cackling audience.
To Be Continued: Dark Matters, and by extension, the whole of Z2, closes on this.
"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. And "Shitstorm"... Good lord, "Shitstorm"!
Parodied with "You Suck". There's no particular reason why you suck, you just do.