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Yeah, kinda like that.
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Devin Garrett Townsend (born May 5, 1972) is a Canadian musician and producer. He got his official start after years of toiling in the Pacific Northwest with Steve Vai in the 1993 album Sex and Religion, where he was the vocalist. However, he struggled mightily to get any of his own work put together and pressed onto records, and was becoming increasingly furious with how the music industry was treating him, which coalesced into the first Strapping Young Lad album; which sold poorly, but was enough to get him work for Century Media Records, where he managed to put together a more stable lineup and go on tour, where his work pushed the limits of Death Metal, Industrial Metal, and Progressive Metal all at the same time. But each record would come at a price, as Devin would routinely do mentally toxic things to himself in order to stay in the right frame of mind to keep making records that angry, and in 2006 SYL ended, as a combination of burnout and a belief that SYL had served it's purpose.

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Meanwhile, Townsend had years worth of written material he wasn't able to publish before, and finally was able to put a solo record together that kickstarted the style of music he's been more personally inclined towards in the record Ocean Machine: Biomech, which was intended to be it's own project, but eventually became what he'd consider an "aspect" of his work, and has since made most of his solo work under his name or a band holding his name. He first started with The Devin Townsend Band, which essentially was a prototype for what would become his first thematic quadrilogy; The Devin Townsend Project, starting in 2009. The Project concluded in 2018, when Devin felt he had done everything he needed to. He decided to continue on his own (and with guest artists) with his March 2019 release; Empath.

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He is known for his epic, sweeping prog metal walls of sound that both crush, inspire, and in general set a mood for his compositions, and is 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 

    Discography as a Solo Artist (Devin Townsend Band, Devin Townsend Project, and beyond) 

He's also a guest vocalist on the Ayreon album The Human Equation, voicing "Rage," and is one half of Casualties of Cool.

No relation to Pete, by the way.

Devin Townsend and his works contain examples of:

  • Ascended Fangirl: Anneke Von Giersbergen got the job as vocalist for the Devin Townsend Project by sending Devin a video of herself singing "Hyperdrive" from Ziltoid. She would later sing it on Addicted.
  • Adorable Abomination: Look at the cover to Dark Matters. See that furry rabbit-like creature on Ziltoid's left? That's the Planet Smasher. Ziltoid insists that he is not cute.
  • Adorkable: His fun loving, child-like personality on stage is almost "D'awwwww" worthy at times. He can also come across as a nerdy and rather shy person in interviews and off the stage. Plus, how could you not love that face?
  • Album Intro Track: Quite a few albums have these, such as City ("Velvet Kevorkian"), Strapping Young Lad ("Dire"), Ziltoid the Omniscient ("ZTO"), and so on.
  • Album Title Drop: ALL I NEED IS THIS CITY AND THIS MIND AND I WILL GET BY!!!
  • All Just a Dream: At the end of Ziltoid the Omniscient, Ziltoid turns out to be a daydreaming Starbucks employee.
  • All There in the Manual: Devin's website gives in-depth looks into how his releases were made and what he was going through mentally to create them.
  • Anti-Love Song: "Love?" all but states that love is just a way to avoid loneliness and get sex.
  • Art Evolution: Ziltoid went from looking like a goofy puppet to looking like an actual alien (who happens to be a puppet)
  • Ass Shove: Around the time he was still working with Steve Vai, Devin infamously took Jay Leno's phone, got naked and shoved it up his own ass. A quick google search will get you photographic evidence.
  • Atomic F-Bomb:
    I fucking hate you
    I fucking hate you
    I fucking hate you
    • The song "Fucker" from The New Black.
    • On "Praise the Lowered", where Devin belts out "SMOKE THAT FUCKING... WEED!!!" right before one of the heaviest drops on Deconstruction.
    • The iconic Velvet Kevorkian intro. "FUCK SLEEP! FUCK ALL OF YOU!!!".
    • "Oh My FUCKING God".
    • An absurdly high-pitched one occurs about halfway through "Shitstorm" on Alien.
  • Bald of Awesome: He's awesome and has no hair. What more do you need?
  • Bald of Evil: Played for laughs with Ziltoid.
  • 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.
  • Boléro Effect: A big fan of this. "Praise the Lowered" is a particularly vicious example. "Info Dump" is another one based largely around Harsh Noise; it's arguably the heaviest track in his discography.
  • Book-Ends: Epicloud begins and ends with a gospel choir singing these words:
    Everyone into forever
    Everything a part of me
    Dancing on into forever
    Effervescent quality.
  • 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, this comes back in "Through the Wormhole" as Ziltoid starts singing "Memory".
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Ziltoid does this after signing a contract with Captain Spectacular, secretly intending to soliloquize about a later Face–Heel Turn. Judging by the sound effects, though, he still needed to go.
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Captain Spectacular, especially in Z2.
  • Careful with That Axe: A particularly startling example at the end of "Things Beyond Things" considering how soft and gentle the song is.
  • 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.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: While it shows in some of his music (the album "Deconstruction" comes to mind), his eccentricity and oddball remarks are major part of his appeal as a live performer with Adorkable and Deadpan Snarker tendencies mixed in for good measure. Generally Played for Laughs, especially when Ziltoid is involved.
    • Seems to be invoked. He has admitted to having cripping social anxiety and that "making a jackass of himself" helps deal with it... Note that this was said on-stage whilst wearing a hat that looked a Thanksgiving turkey dinner
  • Cluster F-Bomb: See Atomic F-Bomb and the song "You Suck" and "Fucker".
    • The less intelligible parts of "Happy Camper" are actually this.
    • Happens a lot with the song "Shitstorm" from Alien.
    • "S.Y.L.". The lead-in to the chorus is a grind-stomping "I fucking hate you I fucking hate you I fucking hate you..."
  • Common Music Video Concepts: Garage Rock, for Strapping Young Lad's "Detox", "Relentless" and "Love?".
  • Concept Album:
    • For Devin, Ki, Addicted, Deconstruction and Ghost is a thematic suite based on delirious excess, facing the past, and release, with Deconstruction being the most "story" driven.
    • Ziltoid the Omniscient and Dark Matters (from Z2) tell a more literal story, though quite loosely in the former.
    • Cooked on Phonics also tells a story about a metal band that sells out and starts performing Punk Rock, with the message essentially being "to thine own self be true".
    • Casualties of Cool has a story about a traveler lured to a sentient planet that feeds off his fear. He finds solace in an old radio and an old phonograph. Ultimately, he confronts his own fear, and his willpower ultimately frees a woman who had been held inside the planet; this also frees his own soul.
    • Even the albums that (probably) weren't consciously intended as examples often feel like concept albums due to their structure and the lyrical themes that link some of their songs. For instance, Empath, although not explicitly a concept album, can still be interpreted as one; it's "a statement about not only pursuing creative freedom in a conservative scene, but also trying to show that heavy music is truly a valid musical tool," according to the official press release for the album. That Other Wiki's page for the album (as of this writing) actually claims it's his first album since 2006's The Hummer not to qualify as one, but it's not clear what their reasoning is.
  • Cool Train: A hellish variant on this trope serves as the setting for the music video for "Juular".
  • Cover Version: Strapping Young Lad has done a few. "Exciter", "Zodiac", and Cop Shoot Cop's "Room 429" as examples.
    • "Far Beyond Metal" was a song written back during 1997-8 as a live track only, but when it came time to record The New Black Gene Hoglan suggested using the track.
      • In short, "Far Beyond Metal" is a cover of their own song.
    • Badger badger badger...
    • Devin provided a cover of "New York, New York" for the SIN-atra compilation.
    • Transcendence features a cover of Ween's "Transdermal Celebration".
  • Cute Little Fangs: Well, the "cute" part is debatable, but he has them either way.
  • Deconstruction: Magnificently averted with the album of the same name. You would expect that the title and Townsend's statement about being the heaviest album he's ever made since SYL (after the lighthearted, poppy nature of the previous Ki and Addicted) would have him playing some of the darkest tunes he's ever come to mind (since this album is Exactly What It Says on the Tin to the other two). By listening to the music you realize since track 1 the score is made of guitar riffs, circus organs and other bizarre comedic sounds. And the lyrics? A dead man talking with Satan about his past life on a Crapsaccharine World like they were Heterosexual Life-Partners since the beginning of times. Comedic Sociopathy ensues of course. Really, this album's concept and sound is like the Deconstruction OF the Deconstruction itself.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has an ironic sense of humor and tends to be rather sarcastic in interviews and live performances, often at his own expense.
    • The ENTIRE Lucky Animals video (unofficial), in which Devin does a stupid silly dance without even cracking a smile!
  • 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.
    • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Prior to the release of Empath, Townsend retracted this statement stating that piracy could force him to retire from making music if the album does not break even.
  • 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.
  • Dreadlock Rasta: Combining this with Bald of Awesome gives you Townsend's most iconic hairstyle, the almighty Skullet.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Dark Matters, and by proxy, the whole of Z2 ends with one of these with those exact words. See the related Gainax Ending example.
  • Epic Rocking: Mostly in his solo projects. In particular, Deconstruction, which has a song ("The Mighty Masturbator") that's over 16 minutes - and that's not all. The B-side "Traestorz", an alternate version of the same song, is even longer at 19:21. The Hummer has several songs that are also notable examples, although given that it's an ambient/noise album, the "rocking" part is debatable: "The Hummer" (15:55), "Arc" (23:04), and "Cosmic Surf" (16:27). His longest song as of 2019 is "Singularity", which is some 23:32 long, but divided into six tracks.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Dire" from the self titled SYL album, and "Truth" from Infinity
  • Evil Is Hammy: Ziltoid.
    • The War Princess in the sequel, Dark Matters.
  • Excited Show Title!: Every track on Addicted. Note that although the first nine songs have one exclamation point, the final track, "Awake!!", has two.
    • "Ziltoidia Attaxx!!!" from Ziltoid the Omniscient.
    • "More!" from Epicloud.
    • "Singularity - Here Comes the Sun!" from Empath.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Too many to count for Devin.
    • Most well known is the almighty skullet to shaven bald.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Ziltoid betrays his peaceful negotiations with the humans later on in Dark Matters on Z2. While it is true that he signed a legal, binding contract, Ziltoid feels legally within his rights to betray it, since he signed it in pencil. With his left hand.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Very nearly all of the songs on many of the Devin Townsend Project albums do this, and much of his solo work does as well, especially Ocean Machine. Ziltoid is another conspicuous example. One strange aversion is the demos on the Epicloud bonus disc Epiclouder, which were intended to be examples of this, but have conspicuous gaps between them due to an apparent error in mastering. This can be fixed in an audio editor.
    • He's still at it with Empath, where at no point until the end of the disc does the music fade entirely out (though it comes close at a couple of points). The same goes for the demos on the bonus disc, though the transition between "Middle Aged Man" and "Total Collapse" is so faint that you might need to have the volume turned up to ridiculous levels to hear it (it fades to about -60 dB, but doesn't fade out entirely).
  • 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.
  • Five-Man Band: His solo band
  • Fiery Redhead: Back when he was still fronting Strapping Young Lad, he was well-known for his glorious ginger "skullet" and energetic, aggressive and eccentric demeanor. Not to mention how anger-driven much of his work in SYL tended to be.
    • It's actually zig zagged considering how he tended to be calmer and more cheerful in interviews and was making slower, more progressive metal music during the same time period.
    • Outright subverted these days since he's still a very energetic Large Ham performer but his musical output is far lighter than his pre-The New Black work. Also he's been keeping his head bald these days.
  • 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, Gene denies agreeing to this.
    • To be fair, he was pretty loaded during that night.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The Planet Smasher from Ziltoid the Omniscient. He says at the very end that his name is Herman.
    • Taken Up to Eleven on the cover of Dark Matters from Z2. The Planet Smasher is that furry blue rabbit-like creature near Ziltoid.
  • Follow the Leader and Fountain of Expies: Discussed/In-Universe example in "Planet of the Apes", in which Devin mentions, "We all rip off Meshuggah."
  • 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.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: At the end of "S.Y.L.":
    Hi, welcome to A&W. My name's Devin, can I take your stinkin' order?
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: The interviewer's questions in "Don't Know Why" are in some foreign language. Various lyric sites claim they are Swedish, though it sounds like Japanese (someone who actually speaks either language may wish to confirm which it is).
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Ziltoid found out that he's one when Captain Spectacular revealed that they share the same mother.
  • Hot-Blooded: Strapping Young Lad. Much of their output is comprised of Devin bitterly ranting like a madman or screaming at the top of his lungs out of rage while accompanied by unrelenting, noisy instrumentals. Devin's solo work is also often incredibly bombastic and emotional.
    • Devin himself qualifies during live performances, especially if Strapping Young Lad songs are involved. That said he's a lot more mellow off the stage.
    • Fittingly enough Devin portrays the character Rage for the band Ayreon in the song "Loser".
  • Hypocritical Humour: "By the way, the name's Herman, and I hate musicals!" This after having just sung his own song ("Planet Smasher").
  • I Am the Band: Usually played straight, and lampshaded with the Egocentric Team Naming of many of his projects. Strapping Young Lad began to avert this somewhat on the last few albums, with more writing input from the other members, and Casualties of Cool averts it completely, being a 50-50 collaboration between Townsend and Che Aimee Dorval. Also averted on Transcendence, where most of the songs were co-written with other people.
  • Individuality Is Illegal: In these three ZTV episodes, The Collective, a council of Ziltoidian leaders, condemn Ziltoid for his aptitude for individuality, as Ziltoidians are a subordinate race by nature, so they put Ziltoid under constant surveillance. Ziltoid... doesn't take it kindly.
  • I Was Young and Needed the Money: Ziltoid gives this excuse in "Don't Know Why".
  • 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 Hilarity: Pops up here and there.
    • "S.Y.L." from Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing is a vicious, hate-filled tirade against his previous employers in the music industry and ends with Devin casually speaking “Howdy, welcome to A&W. My name's Devin. Can I take your stinkin' order?”. There's also "Happy Camper (Carpe B.U.M.)" from the same album which is another brutal, rage-driven song that ends with "What a miserable guy".
    • The final track on City, "Spirituality", fades out and then a robotic voice is heard saying "Strapping Young Lad rocks my hairy anus".
    • The song "Deconstruction" from the album of the same name ends with Devin burping into the microphone.
  • 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.
    • "Sprite" on Empath ends with an eerie, discordant section with menacing whispering that leads directly into the much heavier "Hear Me".
  • 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 quite heavy overall and the latter features some pretty brutal tracks..
    • To a certain extent, The New Black is this compared to the rest of Strapping Young Lad's output.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Winter" only contains one line, repeated several times. Also qualifies as Broken Record.
  • Longest Song Goes Last:
    • "Info Dump" (11:56) from Alien, the longest song on the album by five minutes and change.
    • "Awake!!" (9:44) from Addicted is more than four minutes longer than any other song on the album.
    • The iTunes version of Epicloud ends with "Take My Ego", which at 6:22 just barely edges out "Grace" (6:09) as the longest track on that version of the album.
    • Empath (discounting the bonus disc) ends with "Singularity", which at 23:32 is the longest song Devin has ever done. It's divided into six tracks, however.
  • 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. Empath is also DR10 (the bonus disc is DR9), but many of his other recent releases have played the trope more or less straight.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Velvet Kevorkian" from City.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Detox" is a harsh, noisy, upbeat, fast-paced song with aggressive vocals played primarily in the major key, but its lyrics are very personal, delving into emotional vulnerability, social anxiety, and an overall lack of self-control.
  • Madness Mantra: From "S.Y.L" on Strapping Young Lad's debut album:
    Fucking hate you! I fucking hate you! I fucking hate you! I fucking hate you! I fucking hate you!
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: One of few metal vocalists to achieve this status, along with Kyo, Mike Patton, and Roughton Reynolds.
    • 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.
  • Metal Scream: ALL. TYPES.
  • 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.
  • 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 with a few moments reaching as high as 7 or 8, Addicted is mostly 6-7, Ghost is a 1, and Deconstruction ramps up from a 2 in its opening moments to much higher scores fairly quickly, with the last song being a solid 10. Epicloud, Sky Blue, and Transcendence are probably mostly in 6-7 territory as well, but can vary - in particular, "Lessons" is probably a 1.
    • Ocean Machine spans from the lowest of 1's to a solid 8 with "Regulator" and "Bastard"
    • Special notice must be given to Strapping Young Lad's "Info Dump", which is essentially a Harsh Noise track; it arguably qualifies as the heaviest track in his discography, and a case could be made that it surpasses 11. It actually starts out pretty quietly as a case of Nothing Is Scarier, but the end is so hellish that it probably can't qualify as as anything less than an 11.
  • Mood Whiplash: A number of songs, particularly on Ki, Deconstruction, and Ziltoid. Strapping Young Lad songs can be examples of this as well. Devin himself has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, which can cause individuals to undergo a version of this trope in real life (though its effects are often misunderstood or exaggerated: in particular, the shifts in mood don't always occur instantaneously, although sufferers of the disorder may also experience mixed affective episodes in which symptoms of both mania and depression occur simultaneously; these episodes are when sufferers are likeliest to experience instantaneous mood whiplash. See the link on the disorder for more information).
  • Motor Mouth: THERE IS NO INSANITY BUT RATHER SUPER SANITY, MORE SUITED FOR LIFE AT THE END OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY... — "Oh My Fucking God"
    • The last verse of "Happy Camper (Carpe B.U.M.)"
    • "Don't Know Why" takes this Up to Eleven. It sounds like the recording may have been digitally sped up.
  • Mushroom Samba: "Don't Know Why" ends with a lengthy quote from an Alan Watts essay entitled "The New Alchemy", which he wrote after being asked to take 100 grams of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and see if it created anything resembling a mystical experience.
  • Musical Pastiche: According to Townsend himself, the chorus of Strapping Young Lad's "Love?" is "ripped off" from the song "City of Love" by the Progressive Rock band Yes (which admittedly is one of their darker songs). Townsend admitted this to Jon Anderson, Yes' vocalist for most of their first 40 years as a band, and "he seemed to find it funny".
  • 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 disdain or general unwillingness for working for the collective.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Strapping Young Lad was definitely this, containing elements of Death Metal, Thrash Metal, Industrial Metal, and Progressive Metal. His solo output takes this much further, with even his heavier albums not necessarily falling into a single category. Ocean Machine features very prominent shoegaze/dream pop elements especially in the production; Infinity was more avant-garde and psychedelic; Addicted, Epicloud, and Sky Blue are very pop-influenced; Deconstruction harkens back to SYL with even more bizarreness; yet it was all still within his sound. Then there's the extremely eclectic Ki, and of course Ghost and Casualties of Cool which are his unique experiments with New Age and country music, respectively. Come Empath, he's begun changing genres mid-song and still have it work.
  • 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.
  • Piss-Take Rap: "Two Turntables and a Mike St-Jean"
  • Precision F-Strike: Plenty of them.
    • Ocean Machine: "To all the hopeful ones: Nobody gives a fuck what you've got," said in a fairly relaxed manner.
    • Terria: "It's your WORST FUCKING DAY!"
    • 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 
  • Punny Name: The album Epicloud.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "OH! MY! FUCK! ING! GOD!"
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Subverted during The Retinal Circus by having Jed Simon play "Detox" and "Love?" with the DTP.
  • Questioning Title?: "Love?", "Why?", probably others.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: "Rape Song" very explicitly states this. In a case particularly likely to cause people to question their faith in humanity, it earned a Misaimed Fandom anyway.
  • Religion Rant Song: For a metal musician, he doesn't engage in these much, but "Heaven's End" takes a firm stance against organised religion. Townsend commented:
    The lyrics in "Heaven's End" I found (to my surprise) were very against religion. Not against the sense of infinity or spiritual connection, definitely not atheist, but angry at organized religion. The cruelty and divisiveness of it. Seeing the environment and life from a sense of unity stemming from my experiences recently with different perspectives really made me surprise myself at how bitter I'd become towards it all. I have always been kind of "on the fence" about religion, so when Ki finally lets it rip on "Heaven's End", I found myself shocked that a lot of my anger was actually directed towards THAT as a theme. It was so typical, yet it seemed understandable… that anyone or any organization can claim ownership of the things that I've always felt profoundly attracted to, yet more than anything, just happy to be a part of, seemed the height of arrogance, and above all…exclusionary and really mean spirited. The experience made me realize during the process that 'perhaps the anger within me is not directed at anything other than a misdirection of spiritual intensity'… people had been born and had died in my life, I had hurt my friends and band mates, I was confused, but it seemed that through the purging of this I was coming to some conclusions, and purging some baggage was necessary. Religion was first on the list.
    • "More" also attacks both materialism and organised religion. On the other hand, some of Epicloud also comes across as sincerely spiritual.
  • Re-release the Song/Rearrange the Song: "Kingdom", taken from 2001's Physicist for 2012's Epicloud. Compared, the Epicloud version is pretty much a Large Ham.
    • The same thing happens with the song "Hyperdrive", which started on Ziltoid the Omniscient as a moody, subdued track in which Devin almost whispers the vocals, and got an Anneke-led, pumped-up and happier-sounding update on Addicted.
    • Transcendence contains remakes of "Truth" from Infinity and (on the bonus disc) "Victim" from Physicist.
  • 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.
  • Rock Opera: Several albums, most notably Cooked on Phonics, Ziltoid, Dark Matters, Deconstruction, and Casualties of Cool.
  • 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.
  • Sad Clown: Devin is always up for a laugh on stage and in interviews and also writes some pretty humorous lyrics when he wants to, but, like many entertainers, he also suffers from depression which has caused several Creator Breakdowns throughout his career.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: The fast-paced, aggressive instrumentation, border-line manic vocals and personal nature of the lyrics in much of SYL's output make it possible to interpret a number of their songs as such, though that likely wasn't the intent. "Detox", "Shitstorm", and "Underneath the Waves" come to mind.
  • 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."
    • Gloriously done in this video. Interviewer Devin's constant "Get a load of this guy"-style points and wank gestures just make it.
    • Notably in Deconstruction, where he gives attention to the Djent-y riff of the song by yelling out "We all rip off Meshuggah!"
    • In the song "Don't Know Why", which leads off the bonus disc to Ziltoid the Omniscient, Devin (as Ziltoid) refers to the subsequent content as "terrible, terrible bonus material".
  • Sell-Out: The whole plot of Punky Brüster - Cooked on Phonics is built around a Polish Death Metal band selling out their metal sound for something more Punk Rock.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Ziltoid the Omniscient qualifies in a way, given that the whole album is revealed in the final track to have taken place in the mind of a bored Starbucks employee.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Since forming the Devin Townsend Project he's been doing some of his live performances with more formal clothing. Most notable during the Retinal Circus which also added a top hat while contrasted by his bandmates who are wearing more casual/metal clothing.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One directly to Meshuggah in "Planet of the Apes". Not to mention, well, the title of the song itself.
    • "Radial Highway" borrows its first few lines from Golden Earring's "Radar Love", and the entire song is something of a tribute to it.
    • Very near the beginning of Ziltoid the Omniscient, the eponymous character says, "Resistance is futile," the Catchphrase of the Borg. Given that Ziltoidians are also (apparently) a collective, this is no doubt intentional.
    • "Don't Know Why" has a lengthy quote from the British-American philosopher Alan Watts' essay "The New Alchemy", as mentioned above under Mushroom Samba. The song also features Ziltoid reading quotes from two songs by the band Soilwork, namely "I, Vermin" and "Sick Heart River", both from Sworn to a Great Divide.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Polyphony" -> "The New Black", "Velvet Kevorkian" -> "All Hail the New Flesh", "Dire" -> "Consequence", probably others.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet / Spandex, Latex, or Leather: Played for laughs in the video for Vampira.
  • Slasher Smile: Mostly back when he was still working on SYL but he still has this sort of expression from time to time.
    • The front cover of Infinity is a notable example.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Ziltoid himself. A big part of his character is his denial at how he's not all he's cracked up to be. Or, as Captain Spectacular puts it, "a nerd".
  • The Something Song: "Babysong" and Strapping Young Lad's "Rape Song".
  • Something Completely Different:
    • Noted in The Retinal Circus due to its eclectic songlist.
    • "Info Dump", a Harsh Noise track, stands out from the rest of Strapping Young Lad's discography.
  • Soprano and Gravel: All over the place. The best example is "Planet Smasher" from Ziltoid the Omniscient.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • Cryptic Coroner (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.
    • On Devin Townsend's YouTube channel, he released "Devin Townsend LUCKY ANIMALS (Unofficial Video) =]", a video of him dancing in his backyard to the song "Lucky Animals". There are no cuts, no special effects and nobody else there with him. It's about as low-budget as a music-video could possibly be.
  • 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".
  • Take That!: Devin's not averse to doing a few when needs be.
    • The whole of Cooked On Phonics to bands who change to a more accessible style to make more money.
    • "Juno", a B-side from the Contain Us boxset, is one to the Canadian music industry, who failed to recognize him or give him any credit for many years.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: "S.Y.L."
  • 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" is a furious tirade against a rapist.
    • "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.
    • "Happy Camper (Carpe B.U.M.)" seems to be ranting against the people in the music industry and all the things about them that pissed him off.
    • "Shitstorm"... Good lord, "Shitstorm"!
    • Parodied with "You Suck". There's no particular reason why you suck; you just do.
  • Title Track: "The New Black", for Strapping Young Lad.
    • For Devin Townsend works: "The Hummer", "Ki", "Addicted!", "Deconstruction", "Ghost".
      • Despite being a vinyl-only bonus track, "Epicloud".
  • Uncommon Time: As is pretty much mandatory for Progressive Metal, this is used liberally on some songs.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Cooked on Phonics is an entire diss album aiming at a real band known to Devin as one that switched from metal to punk in order to chase popularity, and the album's moral is basically "to thine own self be true."
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Especially the DTP.


Alternative Title(s): Strapping Young Lad

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