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Strapping Young Lad have finally released their long awaited follow up to their self titled release, and as bands get older, sometimes their quality starts to go down. SYL is not one of these bands. They have come back, and they have come back to punish you with their blend of extreme music.
This CD opens up with the absolutely crushing intro, “Imperial”, which is a fantastic way to introduce you to the Lad’s world. This song features a great amount of double kick from Gene and second guitar from Jed and bass from Byron following right along with Devin screaming all the while. Devin mixes part clean vocals with some screamed vocals that have some sort of effect on them, overall a great start. “Skeksis” follows Imperial, and is another brutal track, this is where you can really hear the amazing drum work of the man himself, Gene Hoglan. He punishes the skins with no remorse. This goes on for a while and finally kicks into the vocals a little way through, which are nothing but amazing as usual from this man, there are plenty of fast riffs to be found as well as some neat keyboard effects played over the entire thing.
Not letting up, after these two songs comes the first song many heard off the CD and that would be “Shitstorm”. This song lets you know just how pissed off Devy is, he is hear to make your ears bleed. All the vocals are pretty much shouted and the lyrics are just as crazy with it sounding like Devin is just threatening you in the song. This is also a fast song with many good riffs and some fantastically used keyboard effects that do nothing but complement the song. In here we also get our first taste of the choirs that were used which also help diversify the song, quite the amazing track. Can this CD get better, or can it get worse? Well! In this reviewer’s opinion, it gets much better, and this is because of the track “Love?” This is an absolutely amazing song which is very emotionally composed but it still manages to punish you with it’s heaviness. Devy keeps the great vocals coming using screaming and clean. The guitar, the bass and the keyboards simply come together and give you an amazing performance, the lyrics In this case are also fantastically written, and this should go down as one of Strapping Young Lad’s best songs in this reviewer’s opinion, simply the best song on the CD.
Now believe it or not, after a song like that the quality stays the same, it doesn’t get any worse. Welcome to the track “Shine”, this is another song that is hell bent to crush you into the ground with it’s heavy riffs and insane drumming, it’s a very busy track and will definitely keep the listeners attention with Devin screaming at you maniacally all the way through. Also listen for some more choir at the end which keeps things interesting. Yes, this CD has not relented yet, and it’s not about to. “We Ride” is up next and it features some very fast riffing, and some well written lyrics that are basically telling you to get in gear. This song is unique for a Strapping song has it features a good amount of soloing, so this should catch everyone’s ears has they are very well performed. After this song is the other major highlight of this disc and it comes in the form of “Possessions” It features lyrics that would be corny from other bands but for SYL it works perfectly, this song features more great riffs and some crushing drumming, but the most prominent feature in this song is the fantastic use of choir, and luckily it is not overused, it’s just the right amount.
Oh no! The CD has slowed down, but is this cause for alarm? No! This is “Two Weeks” and it is a very well written slow piece, some have compared it to Pink Floyd even. The point is though, that this CD doesn’t break the atmosphere and only adds to the greatness of this album, it’s very mellow and relaxing, and has a good amount of emotion put into it, the only people who wouldn’t like this song are those people who can’t deal with anything that isn’t going at 100 miles per minute. “Thalamus” brings back the heavy that we are used to, but it almost seems like a drone song. This is good though! It keeps the CD diverse and makes it a more interesting listen, it is nothing but effective here. The last of the “songs” in this case arrives and it comes in the form of “Zen”. Where Thalamus brought back the heavy, this song brings back the speed, with some great riffing and drumming that you won’t soon forget.
Now, the last track is a bit.. Controversial I suppose you could say. Some really like it, others down right hate it. It’s an ambient track of sorts and it is quite long, but if you have patience you begin to hear things later in the track. Basically it is an experiment in feedback. It doesn’t take away anything from the CD in my case, so I treasure this track just as much as everything else on the CD. What’s cool about this track though is that is kind of scary in a way, the feedback has a constant beat, but it fluctuates and gets louder sometimes, which may make you tense, as you don’t know what’s coming next. All in all, just have patience with it and it may be rewarding for you. This may not be for everyone and you may want to skip it though, but at least give it one chance.
I think this is SYL’s best release to date. It’s heavy, and it has plenty of emotion and anger. Truth be told I think the CD of the year has been released in March, and it’s Alien. Don’t miss it, it’s a must hear.