The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Strapping Young Lad – SYL
With all the latest spins of the awesomeness that is Deconstruction, I couldn’t help but find myself gravitating back to this crazy Canadian’s other band, Strapping Young Lad. I believe it’s the fact that his soon to be released album, Deconstruction has a lot in common with what you would hear on a Strapping Young Lad album. It’s heavy on top of heavy. But wait, I seem to be getting ahead of myself. So lets go back a few years as my first introduction to Strapping Young Lad was with their debut album, Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing. It took a bit of warming up to fully appreciate it, but once I did, I was a fan. And since then I’ve enjoyed all their albums as well as the progression this band went through with each one of those releases. But as I look back, I find myself always going to one album in particular, their 2003 full-length, SYL…
It all started with a sampler that featured the new track “Relentless”, and upon hearing it, I was floored. The new album couldn’t come soon enough, and luckily for me, it was a short wait. Now I know SYL gets both praise and flak from fans, and the fact that it’s sandwiched in between what many fans consider two of their masterpieces, City and Alien, it’s the kind of album you will either love or mildly enjoy. Me personally, I love this album, and when compared to their other albums, it’s the most masterful piece of brutality yet, the kind of album that leaves the listener a devastated wreck.
Devin Townsend and Co. deliver another declaration of distraught and extreme anger, as it’s quite obvious from the moment you hit play. The album opens with the intro “Dire”, then continues into “Consequences”, and both these tracks together setup the epic atmosphere that is maintained throughout the rest of the album. SYL offers very little time to breath, as it constantly punishes the listener with one heavy track after another. Clearly, Devin Townsend, Gene Hoglund, Byron Stroud and Jed Simon are not content with taking prisoners as they continue their aural assault with the energetic “Relentless” to the fast and aggressive “Rape Song”. Then by making matters even more hectic, the complete monster of a song “Aftermath”, with the effective riffs of Jed and Devin’s chugging rhythm guitar combine to what is in my opinion, the standout track on this album.
The midpoint of the album offers up the stomping and aggressive “Devour”, the fast and melodic “Last Minute”, which has one of the most memorable riffs from Jed on the album. “Force Fed” starts off slow and aggressive ultimately building up to an onslaught of heavy riffs and devastating drums. The opening line, “Animal, you’re an animal… You’re a goddamn fucking animal. It sucks you in… pulls you in. No one knows!” will instantly pull you in to this beast of a song. The shortest track on the album (not counting the intro) “Dirt Pride”, is a fast, unrelenting and straight up grinder that also further proves why Gene Hoglan is one of the best drummers in the business. The song may be short, but it leaves a mark. Then comes the closer, “Bring On The Young” which is very drawn out, but slowly builds and becomes quite a powerhouse. I love the distorted styles of Devin’s vocals in this song, especially the few high notes he hits. And the underlying choir of voices heard throughout adds to the apocalyptic feel. A perfect closer to a monstrous album.
I’ve come to enjoy all of Devin Townsend’s work, as to me, he’s a true artist/musician. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the lasting impression he leaves with every album he releases. And while Strapping Young Lad is no more, Devin continues to twist the mold of music to his liking with his latest releases through the aptly named Devin Townsend Project. And with Deconstruction and Ghost being released in the coming month, it’s exciting to see and hear where he’s heading next.
Strapping Young Lad – “Force Fed”