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Amazing - 97%

eletrikk, January 18th, 2019

I absolutely love this album. City, for me at least, is one of those records that you really can't get tired of. From a slow, yet impactful opening track, to a classic industrial slam of a closing song, City has tinges of multiple genres that doesn't clash like the madhouse of Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing. From industrial to extreme, City will (hopefully) fit all of your metal needs.

Devin's vocals on this album are superb. There are very few tinges, if any at all, of the comedy that was scattered across the last record. His screams have a melodic cry to them that I still have not heard again from another band, or him for that fact. It is very unique to this record that I wish was done more often across the board. Compared with Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing, Devin's vocals are completely different. I know that he improves from album to album, but this was unexpected. It works though, and really adds to the overall listening value of City. His clean vocals are a bit too scattered though, and even though it's a little nit picky, I definitely would have liked to hear more from him, especially on this record.

Songwriting is so much better on this record. It mostly stems from the fact that there was an established lineup this time around. The lineup consisted of, and stayed as, Devin Townsend on guitars and vocals, Jed Simon on guitars, Byron Stroud on bass, and the madman that is Gene Hoglan on drums. Without Gene, in my honest opinion, this album, and band, wouldn't be as revered as it is today. Besides Gene, Jed, Byron, and Devin were relative nobodies in the metal scene at the time. Anyways, the album follows a clear pattern of writing. All these songs sound like that they belong on this record, instead of feeling like they were haphazardly thrown together and linked together with keyboards and samples. Songs transition very well. My favorite example is from "All Hail The New Flesh" to "Oh My Fucking God." It isn't totally seamless, but it feels natural, as if some thought was actually put into it. The riffs vary nicely, giving each song their own individual feel.

This albums production is superior to the last album in every respect. It still is middy as hell, but this time around it works, as it gives City the "wall of sound" style that Devin is so known for. This may turn off some people to this record, but it honestly works so well. Instead of having four mixing personnel, like with Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing, there are only two people mixing this record, Devin of course being one of them. The guitars and bass sound well mixed for how middy they are, and it compliments everything nicely. With a different drummer comes a different kit, and Gene's kit is honestly amazing. The drums have a lot of volume and are not muffled whatsoever, and the cymbals don't sound as if they are covered in felt. Nothing is lacking this time around.

I won't remark too much on the lyricism, as it is normal Devin Townsend ramblings. There aren't nearly as many lyrics as last time, but it really doesn't hurt the album any. The cover of "Room 429," originally done by New York rock band Cop Shoot Cop, is a very nice addition to the record. It is a faithful tribute to the original, keeping the cold industrial feel that Cop Shoot Cop is so known for. It's an overall amazing cover that I can't get tired of.

City, for me at least, is the quintessential Strapping Young Lad album. Dark, heavy riffs backed with a wall of sound that doesn't stop for one second on the entirety of the record, kick-ass drumming keeps this record going like the beating of a heart, and keyboards and samples that are darkly harmonic that are just simply beautiful. Devin's vocals have such a dark, harmonic cry, perfectly going with the record. For anyone wanting to get into Strapping Young Lad, I highly suggest you listen to this record first. It is honestly amazing.