Sunday, August 13, 2006

Strapping Young Lad - The New Black

If you like Megadeth, Shadows Fall, Lamb of God, Anthrax, and extreme metal in general, you'll love:

Strapping Young Lad - The New Black

"Give Us All That You Are/ We Hate You / Give Us All That You Are." What better words to start a review for Strapping Young Lad than with those words from the song "You Suck"? I have seen and heard reactions to Strapping Young Lad ranging from people saying they have a stupid name, they are a "joke band", they are "too heavy" or "they make me homicidal", to the highest praises possible. The term's "brilliant", "insane", "insanely heavy", and "genius" have all been used to describe this band. Every single one of these terms is true. And I know that when I get to City, I'll say the same thing and more.

But let's address the "joke band" term used to describe Strapping Young Lad by some. These people heard of them in 1995 when it actually was a joke band and have never heard anything past it because of the initial response. So it makes sense that I mention Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing right now. The songs were insanely heavy, leaking brilliance that would show on in later releases. But the album got lost in it's joking ways, something that didn't happen on the Punky Bruster album he made the same year.

Fast-forward to 10 years later. If The New Black is to be compared to any album, it should be Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, and for good reason; Devin isn't being very serious anymore. The last thing anyone should do is try to force genius, and in this case, I sincerly think that's what happened. On previous discs, you would get track after track of unrelenting emotional energy, from anger, to schizophrenia, to manic, and countless other feelings such as joy and sorrow. But on this album... this time, your getting the anger with no real reason.

As I said, I think this is the first time Devin Townsend was ever "forced" to make an album. Maybe it was himself, maybe it was Century Media, but Devin himself has stated that he was sick of doing SYL since he no longer has a ton of anger left.He's later gone back and said most of that was caused by doing some 100 interviews in 3 days, but I think he's serious. This is the firs time we've seen SYL release an album in less than a year apart!

On this album, your getting something that you need to be smart to truly discover, and yes, you do need to read the lyrics sheet to fully get it. With that said, I'm going to go head first into the opener "Decimator". The highlight of this song is the light, melodic riffing over the third line "God have you always been listening to me?". The song basically has to be the most emotional song on their, lyrically being similar to Alien and City, with a meaning that I take to be allowing your soul to become dark, evil, and corrupted. This could be taken as a metaphor for the entire "forced" thing I said before.

Now, let's just jump to the song I love, "You Suck". The line I used to start this review basically sums up most concerts I go to; The band is demanding that you give them your all, but they can just plain suck. Come on, how can you not laugh at lyrics like "Tell me how much they fucking suck....HELL YEAH THEY FUCKIN' SUCK!!!"? "Anti Product", "Monument", and "Fucker" continue to wave the generic-metal-anthem banner, doing it as only SYL can! "Far Beyond Metal" is finally a studio track on this album, a left-over from the original Heavy As sessions and on the live album by SYL, complete with Oderus of GWAR making a gues appearance! The track is furious, heavy as hell, and about as funny as a George Carlin album!

But the heart and soul of other SYL releases is here. "Wrong Side" starts out with "Woke up screaming on the wrong side of the head", a line that basically emobies the nature of most of the tracks on here. "Hope" is a borderline metal-anthem, with the same being said about "The New Black".

The things I think someone should get from this review is that if you like, love, worship, or even simply dislike Strapping Young Lad, you'll love this album. There isn't anything close to a bad song on here, and the main downside is that it can, to the experienced and knowledge SYL fan, show the blueprint of chaos for the band at times. Those generic moments are few and far in between, and can be attributed to Devin's current life.

In the end, this album gets a 4.4 out of 5. It's an album that is either going to hit or miss you on the first shot, and it is either going to grow on you or at least appreciate the band more.


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