Strapping Young Lad - The New Black (Century Media Records) - Back
Strapping Young Lad have long been known for their blast beat in a blender style of industrialized speed metal. After a somewhat hit or miss debut album, SYL have unleashed three absolutely scything salvos of sarcasm-laced rage. Each album having it's own distinct feel, while maintaining the same level of furious intensity. I have greatly enjoyed each of SYL's last three releases, and their live show is something every metal fan should experience. Seeing Devin hunched over his guitar, screaming his face off, veins bulging form his forehead while his trademark skullet thrashes and whips around his head like a writhing crown of snakes..... that’s something you don't forget. I was expecting more of the same from "The New Black" and have to admit being somewhat surprised by what I heard. The album sounds like a blend of SYL and a Devin Townsend Band album. The vocals are far more varied than on previous releases with Devin using clean vocals more often than on any other SYL release. The tempo of the album is also more varied than usual, the blistering speed being balanced almost 50/50 with mid paced material. Guitar solos are featured in several songs, while there may be a few of these buried in the back catalog, solos were never featured. In contrast, some of the solos on "The New Black" really jump out at you. Despite the changes, this still sounds and feels very much like an SYL album. The mechanical sound, and keyboards remain a fixture and the album is structured in such a way that you never go more than a couple minutes without hearing something that is unmistakably SYL's signature sound. Musicianship and production, as always, are top notch. The angry, tongue in cheek lyrics are back as well, indeed Devin takes his love of the F-bomb to a new level here, some how packing more profanity into this thing than Phil Anselmo would include in one of his drunken on stage rants. An impressive feat to say the least. All things considered, this is a good album and changing things up a little was probably something that the band needed to do at this point. Most SYL fans will find a lot to like here, fans of Devin's other projects who have not gotten into SYL's previous releases should also give this one a listen. Highlight tracks include, “Wrong Side,” “You Suck” and “The New Black.” Longtime live staple, “Far Beyond Metal,” is a welcome inclusion as well and features a guest appearance by Oderus Urungus of Gwar. Their best work? In my opinion no, but this is certainly their most diverse album to date and is well worth your time.

Rating:
86

Reviewed By: Garett F.