Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Strapping Young Lad "No Sleep Till Bedtime" (1998)

I thought I might pass this record by as I often do with live albums but seeing the the additional two tracks left over from Heavy As A Really Thing, I figured why not? Pretty swiftly was I reminded of how brilliant live recordings can be. It kicks off on a sweet note as Devin sings us into the madness with a choral arrangement to lead into the opening two from City. Its as vibrant and vivid as the studio records. The guitars, drums, bass and vocals have an exuberant energy, making a ferocious racket! Their performance is swell and behind them a dense layer of synths and industrial aesthetics seem firmly intact, probably the same tracks lifted from the studio. Its hard to imagine that level of nuance and required cohesion working in the live setting.

Our god Devin Townsend's singing is phenomenal. Now a lone voice without production magic at his aid, his fierce screams, leaping roars, soaring cries and immaculate clean singing feels both immediate and necessary as the performance drags you into the heart of the emotional experience he draws from. As the show progresses Devin never tires and between songs when talking to the crowd his comedic nature and ridicule of the spectacle shows fondly with humorous lines and jokes for the crowd. Its most so on Far Beyond Metal, a track from The New Black I forgot used to be a live only track. It is the least Lad sounding of all but clearly more suited for them than his solo material and a vessel for his cheese.

After a riveting seven songs it ends with that song as the tape runs out. A fade out without talk of goodbyes and audience cheers is a bummer but it would been more of a shame to of ruled out the release of this excellent live set. To fill the void Japan and Centipede revere their heads as songs clearly a peg lower on the frenetic, chaotic scale that Dev rammed to the max with the first SYL record. Both are sprawling atmospheric types that subvert their bombastic riffs and sustain a sense of heightened atmosphere. Centipede is the chunkier of the two with a bigger guitar presence and moments of elevated intensity but they both suffer from poor quality as static and peak clipping plagues the crowded moments. Its not too much of a bother, so overall its a really great listen for any SYL fan! Shame the live show was cut short.

Rating: 7/10