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Strapping Young Lad - The New Black

Label: Century Media
Format: CD
Released: 2006
Reviewed By: Walter Fig

Okay, well I must admit to being a bit biased here because I love and admire Devin Townsend and his absolutely unique and genius brand of metal both displayed with the Devin Townsend Band and the more known Strapping Young Lad. The dude is clinically bi-polar and feels the need to release DTB albums as his generally lighter happier art and SYL for all of his dementia and anger-filled art. And with this, Devin with his band Strapping Young Lad releases the new album "The New Black" which he has stated in an interview is likely going to be the last SYL release because Devin simply doesn’t find himself that angry anymore.


One initial thing I noticed is that usually on SYL albums the opening track is insanely heavy and this time around, though heavy, the opening track is more toned-down and melodic than most SYL openers. ‘Decimator’ is a very groovy, sludgy track with gritty yet melodic vocals starting the song off rather than diving headfirst into insane screaming. As the album progresses we hear what seems to be a mix of styles from past SYL albums. Finally, the long awaited studio recording of ‘Far Beyond Metal’ is available after only being a strictly live song that was debuted on their live album.

We have your spitfire, sonic-firestorm type tunes such as ‘You Suck’ and ‘Wrong Side’ which is a tune that actually makes you feel like you are losing your mind as you are listening to it, but on a whole the album is less fast and less chaotic than the last SYL release “Alien” and even the self titled release. “The New Black” seems to be more structured and overall have more hooks and conventional songwriting than most of the current SYL albums and to be honest, I did expect this. Devin has talked in recent interviews how as he wrote the new SYL he found more melodic Devin Townsend Band-like choruses and so on seeping into the songwriting.

In the end, this album may be my favorite Strapping Young Lad release. I have a feeling those who enjoyed SYL strictly for their chaotic songs may feel a bit disappointed, but those who are fans of the Devin Townsend Band will really enjoy this album. It is still very angry, very out there (I mean Bif Naked does guest vocals on the song ‘Fucker’ … how random is that?) and very Devin Townsend. There are a lot of features about this album that are unlikely in SYL releases such as some shredding guitar solos and overall more clean singing and calmed-down tunes than usual for a Strapping release.

To me, this is the most well written and diverse of the SYL catalogue and I it need be, a great swansong release for the project that Townsend has been most noted for during his musical career. Listen to the last two tracks … ‘Polyphony’ straight into the title track, and I think there it sums up the sound of this release. Its our chaotic, insane Strapping yet more experimental, more diverse and truly sounds like a CD from an artist who doesn’t give two shits about what people are expecting him to release.

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