Rating:
10
Strapping Young Lad - City
1997


01. Velvet Kevorkian
02. All Hail The New Flesh
03. Oh My Fucking God
04. Detox
05. Home Nucleonics
06. AAA
07. Underneath The Waves
08. Room 429 [Cop Shoot Cop cover]
09. Spirituality
10. Centipede [Japanese bonus] [2007 reissue bonus]
11. Home Nucleonics ['96 Demo version] [2007 reissue bonus]
12. Headrhoid [Gunt demo version] [2007 reissue bonus]
13. Detox ['96 demo version] [2007 reissue bonus]
14. AAA ['96 demo version] [2007 reissue bonus]
+ Detox [video] [2007 reissue bonus]


This album is an explosion. City is the musical equivalent of a nuclear warhead detonating directly into your eardrums. Few other albums can bend and blur the borders of genres like City; the result is a crushing, homicidal whirlwind of extreme hardcore blackened death doom thrash grind industrial carpet bombing. From the first pounding, metallic second of "Velvet Kevorkian" to the final droning, haunting moment of "Spirituality," Strapping Young Lad's sophomore effort is a nonstop roller coaster ride through the darker half of Devin Townsend's manic depression.

One of the most unique and inspiring aspects of Strapping Young Lad's approach is the brutal, painful, and unequivocal honesty in the lyrics. Perhaps Hevy Devy cannot paint the same eerie landscapes as Slayer or shock the listener with gory exploits like Cannibal Corpse, but few, if any, other metal musicians can channel such deep and genuine rage. Every listen reveals some new disturbing shred of lyrical content that reflects the inhuman state of mind Devy must have been experiencing while writing this. When Devin Townsend gets on the mic, you have no doubt that he actually wants to tear you limb from limb as much as it sounds like he does. Though his otherworldly operatic vocals are only hinted at on City, he still growls and snarls and screeches like the unholy hybrid of Chuck Schuldiner, Corpsegrinder Fisher, and some sort of bovine holocaust. With so much incredible talent being contributed by each of the members (including THE Gene Hoglan behind the kit), Strapping Young Lad crafts a sound that is, for lack of a better word, massive. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you recorded several thousand tons of metal crashing into each other at the speed of light and then somehow harmonized the results? Well, this is that.

Musically, City seems to be a combination of all of Strapping Young Lad's other albums. It builds off of the loosely-organized chaos of Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing, progressing in terms of song structure to hint at the much more melodic The New Black that closed out the band's career. Songs like "Oh My Fucking God" and "Underneath The Waves" are legitimately disturbing, if only for the sheer, inhuman energy that assaults the listener's ears for every last microsecond. I have no idea if Devin was being exorcised or what during the recording of this album, butů seriously, this is the sound of rage. Pure, raw, undiluted, frightening ANGER.

There is nothing wrong with this album. Every last sound is mixed all the way up to provide a destructive wall of noise that obliterates everything in its path; while this can be construed as lazy in the case of many artists, nowhere is it more appropriate than on a Strapping Young Lad album. If you want to kill somebody through sheer auditory force, this is the best tool in your arsenal. Everything on City is cranked all the way up to 11, and it has all the destructive power of an adamantium-plated ICBM hurled into the sun by Superman. Devin Townsend has described Strapping Young Lad as his "outlet to freak out," and he sure wasn't kidding.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Production: 10


Band profile: Strapping Young Lad
Album: City


 


written by ScreamingSteelUS | 20.02.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Fat & Sassy! - 20.02.2012 at 04:40  
I think I hear this album a bit differently than you do. Although I know Dev was pretty frustrated and angry during the SYL days, I cannot help but recognize some underlining self-parody on this album. It's so "heavy", it's silly.
ScreamingSteelUS - 20.02.2012 at 04:53  
Written by Fat & Sassy! on 20.02.2012 at 04:40

I think I hear this album a bit differently than you do. Although I know Dev was pretty frustrated and angry during the SYL days, I cannot help but recognize some underlining self-parody on this album. It's so "heavy", it's silly.

I have no doubt that a lot of it was sarcasm or self-parody, but it's still rather unnerving to listen to at times. The lines get blurred. Also, I think it was a lot more evident on some of the other albums, "The New Black" especially, so I didn't bother mentioning it.
-DC-002- - 23.02.2012 at 12:07  
Great album! Centipede is a really cool bonus track...I think I've learned to understand that, Devin is seriously not seriously serious in how he does a lot of songs.
3rdWorld - 01.03.2012 at 22:19  
Strictly speaking there was just 5 complete regular songs in this album. A decent 8 from me, I'd say.
Kuroboshi - 07.04.2012 at 10:09  
Written by 3rdWorld on 01.03.2012 at 22:19

Strictly speaking there was just 5 complete regular songs in this album. A decent 8 from me, I'd say.

I can count at least 7, and that's if you exclude Velvet Kevorkian, Room 429 and the extras. Which of the others are not regular songs?
Cynic Metalhead - 15.11.2013 at 20:10  
One of my favorite SYL record. Lot of anguish poured in and its clear that experience of David is much biased. But, this record sounds like a fucking monster.

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