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Astonishing Brilliant Innovative etc. - 100%

AngelofBreath, October 19th, 2005

Oh Fucks Yeah!!! I totally adore this album (and I don’t care how cheesy it sounds!). I strongly urge anyone interested in SYL to consider this album as a purchase.
Buying this was one of the best things that happened to me since I discovered that my dad had subscribed to the ‘adult’ channels on satellite before leaving home.

Where to begin… How’s aboot the beginning jackarse!
The intro, Velvet Korvakian is really cool although it begins with a noise that sounds like someone tapping a spoon against a radiator. It then sets the tone for the album by bursting into an overwhelming huge sound that really does sound like a city at rush hour humming at you. When Devin Townsend’s expert vocals cut in with evil snarling of phrases like “Fuck sleep! Fuck all of you!” you actually feel it. And similarly when he shouts “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.. WELCOME THE FUCK HOME!!!” this normally preposterous phrase actually sounds right and (on a personal level) actually makes me think and feel: Yeah. I am home.

On we go to All Hail The New Flesh, which a metal hammer reviewer amusingly claimed in a review recently was entitled All Hail The Dog…. maybe a special edition? All Hail… whatever it’s hailing is a damn good song. The guitar starts up before Gene Hoglan’s immense skills on drumming (only rivalled by the immense size of his avalanche like gut) opens up a cacophony of noise that would send Steve Irwin himself running for cover! Through this seemingly impenetrable cyclone Devin’s vocals cut through and guide the listener into the comparatively safe territory of some background atmospheric keys and a rhythm that by this point has cut in by a very well written and orchestrated change of pace. As you feel yourself diving head first into Townsend’s sick vision of heavy metal the keys etc. cushions the blow but also tries to pull you in several directions at once creating a real insane outcome. The song is very uplifting at the chorus where Devin yells “all you are, is all you are” before a brilliant riff comes in driving into a section with keys creating a vision of .. I’m not sure but it’s unbelievable.

Oh My Fucking God is one of the heaviest songs your likely to hear, but as in the last song Devin’s knowledge of song writing keeps it from descending into the monotony which I associate with Morbid Angel and other so called ‘heavy’ bands. There are all manner of sound effects and build ups and interlude sections, including a bit that actually makes you feel nauseously disorientated to listen to and you appreciate the literalness of the title. You come out the other side with some intentionally uncomfortable sound effects, like a bunch of violins being plucked all at different time signatures. I love the fact he quite clearly knows what to put where and what effect it will have.

Then comes the song Detox. It’s a fantastic song, full of… everything. The fist time I heard it I was struck by how much was packed into it and was quite frankly bewildered The bouncy riff comes in before Gene Hoglan gets this evil machine on the road and Devin comes in at intervals with lyrics, beefed up with some keys for good measure. The song progresses in a similar way kept interesting by the change of rhythms here and there and additional effects before it builds to another impenetrable section which one might now recognise as a build up, and one’ed be right. Just as you feel like your getting lost again Devin comes in with a truly sky cracking yell of something that could be inefficiently described as anger and before you know where you are a real catchy riff hijacks you and flies you to somewhere near the ozone…. or possibly the cosmos. Cutting through this ecstasy eventually comes some extremely neurotic and paranoid lyrics (“How did I get here tonight!?!/What am I doing here?!?/ How did I reach this state?!?/How did I lose my sight!?!). Following this some very well thought out keys come over the top to add some emotion and depth for the final burst of really quite distressing lyrics as Devin screams “I’M LOST!!! I‘M FREAKING” and “So here, All my hopes and aspirations, THEY’RE NOTHING BUT PUKE!!!, GOD I’M SO LONELY!!”. Then you come off this cloud 9 of neurosis and fall back into the main riff which is permeated by some extra melody and a middle aged man describing the functions of nerve cells (and damn me it sounds right!) before a final tortured cry leads into that catchy riff and the end of the song.

If you ever hear only one SYL song, make it this one.

Home Nucleonics hits you full in the face with a wall of sound amusingly prompted by an audio effect which states “the beat starts hear”. It’s a nice contrast with the last song and, although pales in comparison, it’s unashamedly heavy, in the vain of Oh My Fucking God. It pounds you, pulls back into an interlude before coming back at you to pound you even more and continues in much the same way till the end of the song (where you may collapse).

AAA is whilst a good song the closest thing approximating to a filler track on this album, then again that‘s not saying much. It begins with Devin whispering some vocals which build up in a threatening way with some pounding guitar and drum crescendoing, and then suddenly drops to just Devin whispering “but no one hears so no one knows AND…” The song then comes alive with a very full multi-layered sound whilst Devin yells “NO ONE FUCKS WITH ME!”, which continues in much the same way until the end.

Any feelings you had aboot AAA leaving you out in the cold are literally blasted (possibly storm-blasted) away by Underneath The Waves, which kicks off with an utter face-fucker of a riff (I really thought I’d never say that phrase ever). Its got the same emotional intensity as Detox and the same styled keys and atmospherics designed to add emotional force. You might feel a bit of empathy if you ever felt like you’re weary of your apparently hum-drum existence, because the song’s aboot how it fells like life goes on and on and how you can get disenchanted with it all, especially in light of the fact that it may be for “Fucking Nothing!”. Great stuff.

Track 8 is a Cop Shoot Cop cover of a song called room 429. I’m of the opinion that the lyrics really make this song fucking brilliant. It reminds of an extremely weird but kick ass movie called 2046 in that it covers a hotel room being a link to (amongst other things) the past memories you cherish and are ultimately haunted by. It’s also aboot how you can escape inside the domain of a room, surrounded but yet isolated and cut off from everyone surrounding you. I’ve often thought aboot things like this, esp. at university halls where you could be less than 2 metres away from someone but yet so far away. It also connects with the title of the album where, despite the vast number of people all around you, in a city you can often if anything feel even more lonely and isolated.

The closer is Spirituality, which is a lot calmer but no less overwhelming than the rest of the album. You get the impression that Devin’s settling down after a hellish day in this nightmarish city to sleep and all his fears, whilst not disappearing, are subsiding for another day. He states how tired he is of “all you sick stupid people” (and who hasn’t felt like that in a world where people still choose to read tabloid newspapers and kill each other for no real reason) and every night “I pray to God they’ll hear me”. You really catch a look at genuine heartfelt negative emotions voiced with impressive skill and succinctness. The track ends with the feeling of being absolutely spent and shutting down for the night, presumably to wake to the same agony all over again, and rather creepily concludes with the choked whisper of Devin saying “I found a way out of here”.

This is a really brilliant original album that has a superb amount of talent and emotion pumped into it. City takes you to another place, and can prompt you feel all manner of emotions and there isn’t a single thing I’d change aboot it.

Not even the price.