Review by Michael on February 1, 2003.
It’s been a long time. Devin Townsend has been pumping out masses of music under many different names over the years since the last full release from Strapping Young Lad, but it hasn’t been the same has it? Each release has been brilliant in its own way, but it’s not had the intensity nor the sheer aggression that Devin was so renowned for with Strapping Young Lad. Even in an interview your very own XCase conducted with man in 2001, he stated he was not planning to ever doing another Strapping Young Lad album... it seems he changed his mind for the better of metal everywhere...
Don’t get me wrong. This is a Devin Townsend record. It contains all of the elements he is now so well known for. Crushing guitars, ethereal layered vocal lines, super fast drums and his ever increasing array of varied screams. To the happiness and possible disappointment of many, not much has changed in the Strapping camp.
This album certainly is heavy, a massive jump for the almost soothing tones of Devin’s latest release Terria, but unlike "City", "SYL" has a lot more groove and catchiness to the songs as apposed to the wall of noise that was the trademark of this band. It seems a lot more time has been put into the arrangement of the songs, and the result is an album full of very well balanced and well structured tracks both dynamically and rhythmically, giving listeners all the aggression they so desire, but really backing off for the quieter and more roomy clean vocal sections creating a space that Strapping certainly have not explored before.
Production wise I think this album is a massive leap ahead from "City". The production on Devin’s releases has improved greatly since the release of "City", but they were very different albums and I cannot compare them. "City" was a very hard album to digest, it had virtually no dynamics, it was very hard to hear any individual instruments and there was just too much happening too much of the time. Sure, there are moments on "SYL" where the old ‘wall of noise’ becomes apparent again, but as was mentioned before, it is broken up beautifully with some of the greatest melodic sections Devin has created to date.
Bottom Line: All in all, this is a powerful, heavy and beautiful album from the one man that can pull it off time and time again. Be patient with it, and it will grow on you...
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.6 out of 10