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Why is this band so revered? - 10%

Ploob05, October 10th, 2010

A little intro to this review... I entered this album, nearly completely oblivious to most of Strapping Young Lad's work, and under a friend's recommendation. I'd only heard a few assorted songs beforehand. So all in all, I had entered this album with a completely unbiased mind.

One thing I must point out, is that the production on this album is actually pretty good. It's harsh and abrasive, but everything's still really clear. Lo-fi this is not. Not saying lo-fi is bad, but this is just really aggressive, and for modern metal, this is actually a really good production job.

Now, onto the music... I was for the most part, disappointed. Yeah, it's heavy. Yeah, it's brutal. But to me, in terms of musical construction, it seems like a haphazardly arranged collection of riffs, with the occasional soundclip here or there to give a pseudo-"industrial" feel. A lot of these riffs don't seem to flow into one another at all, and it seems like a mess.

There's a clear stylistic divide here between the songs... they are all on either end of the spectrum here (except for "Room 429", which I'll discuss later). Each song is either an extremely fast thrasher; or an extremely slow track, with an almost chant-along quality to it. But there's one thing that remains the same between the two, and that's the riffs.

The majority of these riffs are pretty bad, and are plagued with everything that is wrong with modern metal today. They seem to be a mix of either second-rate thrash throwaways (with the fast songs), or bad groove/Pantera worship (with the slower ones). Downtuned riffs that generally only involve 3-4 notes, with frequent overuse of chugga chugga palm-mute... the two biggest offenders here being "AAA" and "Oh My Fucking God". To put it into perspective as to what you can expect, riff-wise, the majority of this CD sounds like it could be on one of the latest bad Slayer albums, or on the CD of some groove-worshipping metalcore band that nobody cares about.

The bass and drums, well, there's not really a lot to say here. The drums have some interesting fills here or there, but that's about it. Gene Hoglan, an obviously talented drummer (no need to even mention that) is behind the kit, but he's playing such pedestrian music that I can't see his full potential by listening to this alone. The bass, pretty much just plays root notes and follows the guitar, I don't really notice it at all throughout the album's duration.

The vocals? Really, really irritating. When he's not doing clean vocals that are placed over the music seemingly at random, he sounds pretty much like the bastard child of a modern, aging Tom Araya, and the singer from System of a Down. If it's not already clear yet, the vocals are basically just lame shouts.

Then there's the song "Room 429". It's so vastly different from each other song on the album (aside from quality), that it sticks out like a sore thumb, and I can't see any reason justifying its inclusion on the album. It sounds like it came from some horror film soundtrack, which in and of itself, is not that great. It's pretty near entirely keyboard driven, and even the vocals have changed from bad shouts to an overly theatrical, try-hard, "scary" raspy voice. If there had been other songs on the album like it, then fine I guess, but as it is, it doesn't fit, and it destroys whatever little cohesion the album had.

All in all, the album is a recipe for disaster. I see some past reviews for this album. A "magnum opus"? "One of the best metal albums ever"? 90's all around? Give me a break, it doesn't deserve that kind of praise at all. This album COULD'VE been really great, if it's musical components didn't embody everything that is mediocre and generic about metal. If you like adventurous, artistic metal, I advise you to avoid this dud, at all costs.