|With a musical resumé that includes well-known names such as Steve Vai, Jason Newsted, James Murphy, Geezer Butler, Stuck Mojo, The Wildhearts, Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, and Paradise Lost, the frenzied work ethic and more furious musical visions of the gifted and prolific Devin Townsend needed an outlet. In 1994, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD was created to punish the senses of the metal underground and to create their own niche of labyrinthine metal. Their self-produced 1995 debut album, Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, was nothing short of premeditated assault and battery. Two years later, with the brotherhood of the band solidified, the scene was devastated with the impressively dark, savage, and self-produced obliteration of City (recorded at Steve Vai's Mothership Studios with acclaimed Swedish engineer Daniel Bergstrand [Meshuggah, In Flames, Darkane]), which Revolver Magazine - in their "69 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time" list - likened to "getting hit by Muhammad Ali." One listen and you'll see why it is the perfect background music for the Clockwork Orange scene where Malcolm McDowell's eyes are forced open as he's subjected to endless scenes of violence. In the spring of 1997, SYL embarked on the Full of Hate European tour which included Entombed, Obituary, and Crowbar, and then returned to North America to tour with Testament. In an effort to capture the unfiltered and uncompromising insanity of their performances, the band recorded two shows in Melbourne, Australia in 1998 resulting in the once again self-produced No Sleep Till Bedtime, which has become the definitive SYL live document crowned with splashes of humor, to which fans at the Dynamo Festival could attest.
Lending credibility to the statement "Genius knows no rest," Devin Townsend has also nurtured a flourishing solo career while concurrently honing his talents as a producer. In the midst of seven official solo releases, Devin has cultivated production credits on Zimmers Hole (featuring SYL bandmates Jed Simon and Byron Stroud), Gene Hoglan's The Almighty Punchdrunk, Just Cause, December's Lament Configuration, and Natural Born Chaos by Sweden's Soilwork, named Album of the Year for 2002 by Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles.
With so much hate expended out at the world, it's a wonder there's any angst left to guide you on another expansive odyssey across a vast, unexplored landscape of exasperation, but Devin Townsend is someone who abhors mediocrity and incompetence in any form. On this self-titled fourth album, SYL, every song is an exhalation of life (regardless of its insolence) where you will experience three or four genres of metal in the course of the same album. The Armageddon-bound aggression (spawned from the events that centered around New York City on September 11th, 2001) can clearly be heard in the various tongues it speaks in: through its black and death metal riffs (courtesy of Devin and Jed Simon), in the thrash backbone firmly anchored by ex-Dark Angel/ex-Death/ex-Testament Gene Hoglan's thunderous drumming, in the industrial-yet-still-human rhythms mimicking the unforgiving throbs of a migraine headache in Byron Stroud's bass work, and in the rabid energy of the harsh, harmonic, and howled vocals of Devin's manic verse with lung capacity that Luciano Pavarotti would envy.
Produced by Devin and recorded at the famed Armoury Studios (KISS, Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe) in Vancouver, British Columbia, SYL is bludgeoningly loud, lead-lined, unbridled, vein-rupturing, stroke-inducing, damn-the-consequences instrumentation. This is rage no longer turned masochistically inward but outward. This is an explosion in the face. This, without question, is war music. In the words of Devin Townsend, SYL is "an extreme assault of the most musical nature." In the layman terms of Kerrang! Magazine, the music of chaos believers STRAPPING YOUNG LAD is "like sticking your head into the jet nozzle of a Stealth bomber."
Chaos is not hell, it is glorious, and it can create living blueprints of a master plan for retribution such as what you're holding in your hands right now. Never expect anything less than extremity from STRAPPING YOUNG LAD. You've been reminded and warned. Proceed with caution.
Devin Townsend announced in a press conference in May 2007 that he has put an end to Strapping Young Lad and The Devin Townsend Band, and he shall do no more tours in the future. He will though apparently continue to release solo music. Read more here.