Rating:
9.0
Strapping Young Lad - The New Black
11 July 2006


01. Decimator
02. You Suck
03. Antiproduct
04. Monument
05. Wrong Side
06. Hope
07. Far Beyond Metal
08. Fucker
09. Almost Again
10. Polyphony
11. The New Black
12. The Long Pig [bonus]
13. Zodiac [Melvins cover] [bonus]


I have to confess that I never managed to fully appreciate Strapping Young Lad before "SYL." Their first album, while ingenious, always felt inconsistent to me, and "City," I realize it's innovative and modern, but I couldn't get past how fragmented the songs sound the first time you listen them, even though I've given that album a few tries. It's true that sometimes, when something starts by seeming strange, it's hard to get over the first impression. And Strapping Young Lad is the definition of strange. However, "The New Black" changed everything for me.

The fact is that all typical elements are still present here, the mechanical heaviness, the experimentalism, the characteristic lyrics. Despite that, I feel tempted to say this is their most accessible album to date. Either that or their songwritting has just become so consistent that they can now make the weirdest tempo changes sound natural. In all fairness, it's probably a bit of both. I may listen to a track like "Almost Again" and admit it could've been adapted to Devin Townsend's solo project, but it keeps on reminding me how similar it is to what has been done in previous works as well.

This is, still, a complex album of contrasts, even though you'll find it catchier and less chaotic than "Alien," which is why I find it more attractive. The mathematical riffing of "Decimator," the technical and humoristic "You Suck" or the impressive textures of "Wrong Side" are intense, crushing, suffocating; but, it's in the less direct ones that this album acquires an inspirational dimension. "Antiproduct" knocked me off my chair; besides being particularly memorable, the dynamic with which it evolves into a middle section that has to be heard to be believed, is astonishing. "Hope" was unexpected, due to its slow and live atmosphere. The duo "Plyophony/The New Black" is delightfully diverse and creative.

Even so, I consider all songs to be very satisfying, and I found myself looking for interesting details and the next original change to come up as I don't remember of doing in a long time. I don't think any fan has to fear "The New Black" because the differences it presents come as naturally as the ones that have happened from album to album in the band's discography. I, for one, felt compelled to rediscover and reinterpret their older records, something that an (amazing) album like "SYL" didn't do, and I'm enjoying them more than ever. "The New Black" really called my attention, and I'll definitely be waiting for Devin Townsend to come back after the time off he is, reportedly, going to take now. In the meantime, you'll want to hear this one more than you think you do.


Band profile: Strapping Young Lad
Album: The New Black


 


written by Passenger | 24.08.2006


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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Baz Anderson - 24.08.2006 at 16:48  
i love Strapping Young Lad, but i was quite disappointed with this album like i was disappointed with 'Alien'
i expected something better.
Devin knows this isnt a good album by his standards either as i read a rather amusing interview with him in a magazine
the album just isnt original at all - it doesnt make you go 'oh wow, that was different' like 'City' did for me

the album does have some good songs on it, it is a good album. but i am just a bit disappointed because of what Strapping Young Lad has done before
i would probably say more like 6 or 7 out of 10
Passenger - 24.08.2006 at 16:54  
Written by Baz Anderson on 24.08.2006 at 16:48

i love Strapping Young Lad, but i was quite disappointed with this album like i was disappointed with 'Alien'
i expected something better.
Devin knows this isnt a good album by his standards either as i read a rather amusing interview with him in a magazine
the album just isnt original at all - it doesnt make you go 'oh wow, that was different' like 'City' did for me

the album does have some good songs on it, it is a good album. but i am just a bit disappointed because of what Strapping Young Lad has done before
i would probably say more like 6 or 7 out of 10

I've noticed many SYL fans keep rating their other albums above this one, but people who didn't care that much for them before are saying this is their best. A dividing one, apparently.
Baz Anderson - 24.08.2006 at 17:07  
Written by Passenger on 24.08.2006 at 16:54

Written by Baz Anderson on 24.08.2006 at 16:48

i love Strapping Young Lad, but i was quite disappointed with this album like i was disappointed with 'Alien'
i expected something better.
Devin knows this isnt a good album by his standards either as i read a rather amusing interview with him in a magazine
the album just isnt original at all - it doesnt make you go 'oh wow, that was different' like 'City' did for me

the album does have some good songs on it, it is a good album. but i am just a bit disappointed because of what Strapping Young Lad has done before
i would probably say more like 6 or 7 out of 10

I've noticed many SYL fans keep rating their other albums above this one, but people who didn't care that much for them before are saying this is their best. A dividing one, apparently.


yeh, well thats probably because this album sounds so much different to 'City' - so the people who didnt like that sort of music might be attracted more towards this because it is so different
i read in the interview with Devin though that he knows 'City' is the best thing he has done, and he also said that Strapping Young Lad wasnt supposed to be a band that played at downlaod festival and all the rest of it
it almsot sounds like he doesnt like the direction the band has taken looking back
Raiden - 28.08.2006 at 17:10  
That was a well written review TheDissident, good stuff.

I ashamedly haven't heard this album yet, but from your description I think I'd like it. I, like Baz, am a fan of SYL's old stuff (have been for ages) but I also didn't mind Alien (I think SYL (the album) is their least best). So I look forward to hearing this album.
jono - 01.09.2006 at 00:24  
I'm a SYL fan and next to City this is my favourite album. Contrary to what many people have said, I find this to be a very refreshing and innovative album...miles above Alien. I can listen to it over and over again withput becoming bored at all, which is more than I can say for many albums.
Darkside Momo - 24.12.2006 at 01:02  
I also really like SYL... and I quite Like the solo Devin Townsend albums. To my point of view (as TheDissident pointed about Almost Again) The New Black might be the meeting point between the two sides of Devin townsend.

And it's really worth a 9 !!!
GULCH OF ROT - 25.04.2009 at 02:08  
10 all the way this album destroys
Vitriolic Hate - 02.06.2009 at 17:25  
Great album indeed!!!
Marcel Hubregtse - 03.06.2009 at 08:15  
This album comes across as a rush job to me. And just like Baz I was as disappointed with this one as I was with Alien. For me their two best are still City (of course) and SYL
DJ Cos - 22.10.2012 at 21:52  
Written by Guest on 01.09.2006 at 00:24

I'm a SYL fan and next to City this is my favourite album. Contrary to what many people have said, I find this to be a very refreshing and innovative album...miles above Alien. I can listen to it over and over again withput becoming bored at all, which is more than I can say for many albums.


I agree with this one.. I think The New Black is probably their best work.. even better than City? - Yes i said it
Imo on this album everything comes together and makes sence. the creativity, insanity, humor and metal all mix together to something that you rarely see/hear. While the other albums where mostly extremes in some ways, the New Black is a modern masterpiece! 9,4
Evil Chip - 05.12.2012 at 05:20  
Almost Again is awesome but the rest of the album not so much.

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