Strapping Young Lad - The New Black
After reaching a new extreme on Alien and then doubling back to create the limitlessly beautiful DTB album Synchestra, expectations hit the roof for Devin Townsend's next move. In case you didn't know, he is the mastermind of Strapping Young Lad along with a prolific and uber-talented solo artist, along with a position in his own Devin Townsend Band. Quite the hard worker. Well, all that hard work began paying off around Alien and, with SYL's next move, Devin and co. promised nothing and delivered a whole lot more. The New Black is a not-so-logical step in the evolution of one of today's most extreme and powerful metal bands.
What feels a bit illogical at first, but soon sinks in and becomes comfortable, is the band's songwriting direction; instead of huge walls of sound, they've stripped some back in favor of crushing, grooving melody and punk attitude. If anything, The New Black is Strapping Young Lad having a good fucking time playing music, with no real goal in mind (unlike the superior City and Alien albums, which both aimed to push you to your everloving limits) other than kicking some ass and doing it with style. "Decimator" is another classic in a long line of SYL openers, featuring one hell of a solo section. "You Suck" and "Antiproduct" are so-so, mostly average and without much dynamic. It's the towering "Monument" that really kicks the album off, a monster anthem that pays tribute to the fans and the foes alike. This segues into the album's best song and truly one of Townsend's best in any capacity, "Wrong Side". Probably the heaviest track, it also features an uber-epic chorus and guitar lines straight from every progressive musician's wet dreams. Also of note, two phenominal breakdowns on "Hope" and "The New Black", the former containing some of the most jaw-dropping drumming I've ever heard. Didn't you hear? Gene Hoglan is the best damn metal drummer of his time.
The rest of the album falls a bit flat, not really containing the energy or inspiration of other SYL works. Whether or not this is because the album was slightly hurried, or perhaps caused by a lack of interest from Devy and others after the exhausting effort Alien represented, one cannot be sure of. But this is still a damn good album, and it's probably their most user-friendly in terms of accessability. But, if you're going to check them out, don't start here. City is the be-all end-all of extreme music, this is just an appetizer of sorts.
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on 2008-01-09 dscanland Said:
Alright. I am now ready for this review having spent some quality time with The New Black over the holidays. This album is fantastic! It's all heavy with some great progressive metal hooks and twists in it. Sure, Mr. Townsend likes to say Fuck a lot but it is the kind of album that really fits. Try on "You Suck" for a fun "fuck you" song. Or "Far Beyond Metal" for a flip off to the punk generation of today. As Kevin states above, probably the heaviest track on the album has to be "Wrong Side". I would say The New Black is probably one of my favorite metal albums to be released in 2007. Check it out. It sounds pulverizing (which it is) but it is also somewhat accessible. I loved it!
on 2007-11-28 SolitaryMan Said:
Have you heard any other SYL? If not, start with "City". But yeah TNB is worth checking out too. Might even be more to your tastes!
on 2007-11-28 dscanland Said:
Nice review Kev, I've had The New Black on my "to do" list for quite some time.