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An industrial masterpiece. - 95%

TheMeh, July 21st, 2018
Written based on this version: 1997, CD, Century Media Records

In Devin's own words, the timeframe leading to this album was a darker period of time, one that left him in a "confused, hostile state of mind". Musical ventures through the likes of Vai and Noisescapes fell under, and somewhere in all that bred a distaste to the industry as a whole. With that said, it is important we consider this when we look back to one of Strapping Young Lad's most infamous records, 'City'.

In a way, the mood coalesces with Devin's anger and rage rather well, when executed to music, and you can hear it build as the album progresses forward from its introductory track, and into "All Hail The New Flesh". A solemn build-up with the guitar, soon opening itself up to the utter chaos of noise with the drums and other noises, only then to call for course with a powerful scream by Devin. If the first 30 seconds of the song mean to show you anything, it's that they weren't trying to fuck around with this one. They were going to build this city, and they were going to do it in their own chaotic nature. That mood, that whole essence, is helped throughout with the inclusion of their more "industrialized" sounds. Prior to 'City', this particular brand of industrial noise was inferred and slightly used in 'Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing', to a much lesser and ineffective degree. That being said, the inclusion herein provides the album with a much-sought for unique sound. Truly, this is the form of SYL's music that chose to hit itself harder than it could before, with more passion, more rage and vitriol than it had ever before... and it benefits in leagues through this.

In a similar way, the transgressions of 'Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing' do seem to find solutions in this album as well. This album is perhaps the first to have even the slightest bit of passable production quality. While perhaps not perfect, it is better than what they used prior. One of the weakest parts of the prior releases from Devin - and, truthfully so, this will affect him another time or so in the future - is that, indeed, his music suffered from the lack of production quality. In a way, it ever so slightly neuters the visceral power that most music like this benefits from. With that in mind, you could say that having a more improved set to work with - for context sake, Devin has stated that the main place they recorded from was from Steve Vai's studio in Hollywood - has benefited the overall music in such a way that... by the end of it all, you'd wish it could hit as hard again. That being said, the production isn't utter perfection, and it still could benefit from an extra round of mixing. For what it's worth, however, it works in a way that makes the delivery of this album simply be... well, filled with impact.

This album has issues, though. Not all good things can be perfect, and this album indeed has problematic areas, while maybe less than most albums. If I'm being honest, one of the only bad tracks on this album I've come to find is perhaps its shortest, "Home Nucleonics". This song could have easily been removed or condensed into another song, by proxy, and the album would have benefited from it. The song itself basks in a formula that is a bit more contrived, similarly created in looks to that of 'Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing' in its use of overall sound and lyrical power. Come to think of it, most of the album does have a glaring issue with lyrics as well. If I were willing, I'd count how many times he uses the word "fuck" all throughout the album (hint: it's a lot more than you think). As a result, I have come to find that the album itself ends up dragging back from these particular details.

I can't not love this album, however. Seen as one of the seminal Devin Townsend records, I would feel remiss if I disagreed with that view. This album basks in its power, its vitriolic chains. While this album drags in certain places, while the lyrics aren't as perfect as they could have been, almost all other aspects of this album are crafted in a way that benefits from its power without feeding into its cheese pretenses. I highly recommend this album to anyone who wishes to dive into Devin Townsend's whole catalog of music.

FAVORITE SONGS: "Velvet Kevorkian/All Hail The New Flesh", "Oh My Fucking God", "Detox", and "Underneath the Waves".