Strapping Young Lad - Alien
Continuing their ascent towards metal's elite, SYL offer up their best slab of aural devistation since "City" on "Alien", an album that treats chaos like a musical genre. Melodies atop rhythms atop melodies atop buzzing, increasingly paranoid and uncontrollable noise all held together by the thinnest of threads. Opener "Imperial" aims to rip the flesh from your bones immediatly and each track, from front to back, does so with little forgiveness.
What impresses the most about the band is that they can layer all these sounds in a way that sounds organic and, perhaps more than anything, progressive and unique. No other extreme metal band sounds quite like this, and rarely has SYL themselves sounded so venomous. "Shitstorm", "We Ride" and "Zen" are the album's wildest rides, all locomotives threatening to derail at any moment. True to frontman Devin Townsend's musical past, a fair share of hooks and catchy melodies can be found throughout. Breakthrough single "Love?" is a good example, a song that most metal fans will know despite their inexperience with the band. "Possessions" contains a wonderful fist-pumping chorus that isn't without it's dark sense of humor, something Townsend and co. love to incorporate.
On the whole, this is the extreme metal fan's dream album, as long as he or she isn't afraid of attention to melody and songwriting that leaves the listener wanting more, instead of wondering what the fuck they just listened to. It's a challenging listen only at certain points, and regardless of that you'll be thanking Strapping Young Lad for the experience and most likely listen over and over again in an attempt to pick out each moment of technical prowess and songwriting ingenuity. "Alien" is, for all intents and purposes, a classic who's status has yet to be fully realized.
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