Monday, September 9, 2013

Strapping Young Lad - City (1997)

As you know, Strapping Young Lad's debut, "Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing", was more or less a solo effort by Devin Townsend. But for the band's sophomore album, Devin recruited permanent members to officially make Strapping Young Lad a legitimate band. The new band members were Jed Simon on guitar, Byron Stroud on bass and Gene Hoglan on drums. So now that SYL was a band, the guys were ready to record the second album entitled "City".

It is instantly noticeable that "City" was much more of a team effort then its predecessor. The sound is pretty similar to what it was on "Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing", but it feels more organized and more well structured now, which makes it easier for the song to reach full potential. The humour is also toned down here, but one thing that has not changed since the last album is the excessive use of the word fuck. Devin screams fuck more than 30 times in this record. I am not against the use of swear words in music (I actually encourage it to some degree), but use too much of it and it loses all its meaning.

After a short intro in "Velvet Kevorkian", "City" starts in a furious tempo with "All Hail The New Flesh". A song that is perfect for speed freaks and together with the epic chorus, this song stands out as one of the leaders on this album. But the madness does not stop there. "Oh My Fucking God" keeps up the momentum, but it does not reach the same level as "All Hail The New Flesh" (even though it is a entertaining song).The album takes a more thrash oriented turn on "Detox" with its galloping riffs. Also "Underneath The Waves" is another proof that SYL can do some real competent thrash metal.

The overall standard is certainly very high on "City". I would actually say that the only real filler on this album is the slow and doom like "Room 429". It is not a horrible song, but it feels misplaced in this album that is filled with fast and heavy pieces. I would also say that the variation factor could have been a little higher, but who cares. I am enjoying this album too much to actually give a crap that the variation is lower then recommended and the fact that this album is only around 39 minutes long. This is a great thrash/death metal album. Period.

By most SYL fans, "City" is proclaimed as the highlight of SYL's career, and after some consideration, I will have to agree with the fans (at last until I hear the remaining three SYL albums). "City" is heavy, crazy and groovy, three things that more or less makes SYL such a strong force. The band is tight and Devin's voice is as great as ever. However, I still feel that "City" has one filler that drags down the rating and the short play time leaves you hankering for more, but that does not take away that "City" is a hell of an assault that every metal fan should hear at least once in their life time.

Songs worthy of recognition: All Hail The New Flesh, Detox, Underneath The Waves, Oh My Fucking God

Rating: 8,5/10 Aaas

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