Saturday, August 31, 2013

Strapping Young Lad - Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing (1995)

Most of you probably know who Devin Townsend is, and most of you may also know that his musical career started with the industrial/thrash metal band Strapping Young Lad. SYL started as a solo project for Mr. Townsend, but later developed into a full scale band. But before that happened, Devin released SYL's debut album "Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing" (bitching title by the way).

Devin performed the vocals while a drum machine did the drums and Devin plus local guest musicians (including future band mate Jed Simon) worked with the guitar and bass parts. This explains why most of the music does not feel very coherent which is of course a shame since some of the music here is pretty sweet.

"Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing" stands up mostly because of the weird humor that Devin brings to the table. From the excessive use of the word fuck to the disturbing truth of "The Filler - Sweet City Jesus", This album delivers some good and fun music that could have lifted even higher with some good band chemistry. But as usual, it is the special epicness that is the true strength of this album. Some examples can be found in "S.Y.L", "In The Rainy Season" and "Critic".

However, the main focus is laid on the heaviness, and with the fact that all the instruments is not perfectly synced, it loses some of its touch in the final product. I would probably have enjoyed songs like "Cod Metal King" and "Happy Camper" even more if it was an interacting band that performed them. The only heavy song I do not like is the sluggish "Goat" that just does not feel very fitting in this album. Otherwise is the heaviness decent, but I think that the lyrics could have been improved a lot (even though most of the lyrics have a humorous touch). Saying fuck a thousand times may be funny at first, but it is not any more after a couple of listening sessions. I sure hope that this trend will not continue onto the next albums.

Finally, I cannot let the last song of the album slip by in this review. "Satan's Ice Cream Truck" is one of the weirdest songs I have ever heard in my entire life. With a maracas beat, a catchy clinking sound in the background (that definitely fits good in an ice cream truck) and some heavy breakdowns, this one is just a big proof of Devin's silly side. It is certainly a track that will make you laugh out loud, but at the same time also rock your head back and forth. A surprisingly good song.

"Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing" surely has its fun moments, but it is just too rough around the edges. It is clearly visible that this album is the work of a solo performer + random musicians, not a band. It is still an entertaining piece that should be enjoyed by fans of heavy thrash metal. But for the next album, I would like to see Devin hire some band mates and not point out the fillers. That is my job, thank you very much.

Songs worthy of recognition: S.Y.L, In The Rainy Season, Cod Metal King

Rating: 6,5/10 Happy Campers

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