STRAPPING YOUNG LAD - SYL - CENTURY MEDIA
Fans and pundits have been striving for descriptions and superlatives to describe Devin Townsend's Strapping Young Lad for the last eight years and all they have to show for it has been a mixed bag of word salad. So be it. SYL is synthesized brutality. Song after song is maximal ambient rage. Check out the buzzsaw guitars, thundering double bass or the bulldozing bass. The skeleton of the tracks is that of a thrash metal song, but then come the layers and layers (and layers) that are Devin Townsend, namely an atomic chainsaw wall of refined melody emanating from the instruments. To distinguish the layers omnipresent on SYL is beyond man. The larynx of Devin too is a machine... who knows? That despite the clear fact that Devin's voice is an acquired taste. Speaking of the vocals, Devin sings like a man who exists on a different ethereal dimension. Listening to a song like Force Fed (not a Prong song!) makes one question the sanity of this man. Then again, that is what seems to happen every time someone goes against conventional wisdom or questions the prevailing mass psychosis: "Give Us a Reason For Coming Of War." SYL is a musical chainsaw mechanism, poignant, angry and brutal! - Ali "The Metallian"
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD - ALIEN - CENTURY MEDIA
Strapping Young Lad's latest agitated sonic outrage is all about establishing the band's angry sound, emphasizing it and anchoring it among the populace. There is little here that is alien sound-wise for SYL and that is a good thing. The new album maintains the band's freakish layered thrash-out with Devin screaming, growling and going berserk all over the place, Gene Hoglan bashing his drum kit in and the guitarist and bassist providing rhythmic girth. Then there is the more ambient interludes which remain intact and together with the technicality and the samples give the meandering Canadians all the ammo they need to shock the neophyte listener and recharge the devoted follower. The album is not that long either. Track eleven, interestingly entitled Infodump, starts like the static of a weak short wave radio signal and ends like an old Exit 13 track tagged to that band's full-length with the express purpose of blowing up people's speakers. Fans will love this start to finish, yet Skeksis and Zen are two of the harder and better tracks here. - Ali "The Metallian"
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD - THE NEW BLACK - CENTURY MEDIA
What a nutcase this guy Devin Townsend is! The latest opus from workaholic Vancouverite musician/producer/business man is still demented, wacky and way out of the mainstream ballpark. The album begins with Decimator and if one listens closely several 'standard' metal riffs are to be had underneath the cacophony and organized chaos. Yet that is nowhere nearly enough to transform Strapping Young Lad into a conformed band that is about to play nice. These guys are still too loud, obnoxious, crazed and ultimately unique to be accepted. Songs like U Suck (or You Suck as it is named on the computer software), Anti Product (with its free form jazz medley) and Fucker really need no explanation. This can be construed as juvenile in some part, but there is more than enough crushing noise, sprawling thrash metal and heavy serenading on The New Black to keep one occupied for a long time. The only problem - aside from a song called Far Beyond Metal - is that Devin complains and pours acid all over the mainstream yet doesn’t exactly say 'no thanks' when Ozzfest comes knocking. Oh well... - Anna Tergel