Strapping Young Lad The New Black

Nearly a decade after City, the sophomore release that brought both the band and Devin Townsend into the limelight, SYL continue to crush everything in their path while pursuing the direction they undertook in their self-titled resurrection and later follow-up, Alien. The songs are more focused and melodic, an approach that has undoubtedly contributed to their recent rise to mainstream notoriety, including a spot on this year’s biggest touring "metal” festival, Ozzfest. Deserving every ounce of praise, SYL continue to render most of their contemporaries obsolete by using an ancient but oft forsaken gift of consciousness that has guided humanity since our ancestors’ first artistic endeavour: imagination. Hints of Townsend’s characteristic symphonic industrial "dementor” leak into the blasting heavy metal and keyboard-laden fury that is known as SYL. Bombastic chants, a question/answer chorus of "hell yeah, you fucking suck” and a genuinely bizarre jazz interlude are but a few of the elements differentiating The New Black from the pack. Snarky moments reminiscent of Punky Bruster, one of Townsend’s early projects mocking music’s try-hard followers, indicates a clever sense of humour that’s beyond the average metal band. "You Suck,” "Far Beyond Metal” and various other random moments throughout the record also point to an admirable levity that is nothing short of endearing. It may not be the greatest record ever recorded but guaranteed it will be mistaken for no one other than SYL. (Century Media)