Sunday, 2 December 2018

Strapping Young Lad "SYL" (2003)


Needing an outlet to vent his post-911 emotions and anger, the Canadian musician reunited the band after a four year hiatus. The resulting SYL, effectively self titled, is the most notably akin to Devin Townend's solo records. Its heavy on the electronics in a layered sense as many guitar riffs are backed by beams of bright synth erupting through the wall of sound. With a lack of Industrial grit and maniacal energy, bar an explosive dose on Rape Song, it occasionally looses the unique Strapping vibe as some guitar sections feel interchangeable with other extreme bands. That's not put the record down, its solid from start to end and a delightful exercise in heavy heavy's sake. The problem is its extremities are not up to par with the likes of City and Alien.

It does however rattle off a timeless classic with Aftermath, a song that strips back groove to its simplest form and hammers it out in repeating cycles of amplified intensity. Its pounding, tribal, primitive and when breaking away from its obnoxious guitar chugging, goes full throttle on blast beats and wall of sound ecstasy. The following Devour is another riot of feverish excess that boasts its own obnoxious one note "breakdown" riff in its mid section. It starts out steady, misleading us as with its temperament before being unleashed. A lot of the record doesn't quite reach thees fiery peaks but it is certainty a wild ride and full of foaming anger.

Across its duration Dev explores a pallet of ideas, ranging from big, dense walls of chorals both blinding and uplifting. His vocals often come of a bit raspy as his delivery shifts. When the guitar is most naked is when the record feels a little to regular for this band and there are a couple of riffs that perk my ears, sounding akin to some techniques and riffing styles heard years later in the Deathcore scene. Its probably just a resemblance Ive picked up on but it makes me wonder about SYLs impact on future musicians as this was their first "commercial success" breaking into billboard record sales charts... only barely. With so much to say about their classic records this one lives in the shadows a little, not managing to match up all of the time.

Rating: 7/10
Favorite Tracks: Dire, Aftermath, Devour, Force Fed

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