Strapping Young Lad, "The New Black"
A Strapping Young Lad album used to be elusive phenomena but since their comeback in 2002 the band has embraced frequent albums. The self-titled comeback album lacked longevity, however Alien brought back the glory days of City to a certain extent. I was somewhat surprised to see that the band has generated another album only a year after Alien. Quite surprising.
The New Black brings around a very different progression. If you are familiar with Devin's side projects then you know that he has a rather multifarious musical pallet and this album combines his love for Strapping Young Lad with his personal music into something pretty enjoyable.
The first listen confused me. I had been skeptical from the beginning since I didn't understand why the album was made on such a short turnaround time. Then I realized that this might be the last album Strapping Young Lad might make. And thats when it started to make sense.
The topics, lyrics, and mood seem mostly comical but the intensity has its usual radioactive spurts. Songs like Antiproduct and Monument emerge as the new sound of Strapping Young Lad. It feels very much like a parallel to his Terria side-project just more solid, straightforward and heavy. The multi-layered chaos trademark has slowly taken a backseat and its not a bad thing because these songs become immensely likable. Some parts Terria, some parts Physicist and lot of that SYL aggression that we all know. This results in almost an universal truth for metal where I feel lots of different will be able to pick this up and like it immediately, and again I don't think thats a bad thing at all. Songs like Wrong Side and Almost Again have rekindled my love for the heaviness in the genre. And in terms of entertainment SYL delivers Far Beyond Metal and Fucker, where the latter is an instant parody of all metal. Far Beyond Metal is an epic song which the band saves for their live shows and it has finally been put on an album and it is entertaining as ever. With guest vocals from Oderus Urungus its hard to deny the song's love for everything metal and its fist pumping anthem. The New Black is the song that finishes off the album in mammoth fashion. In atmosphere it brings out a similarity with the mid-tempo stylings of AAA in City but instead of sounding unstable this song cooks a resolute path of heavy oppression. A fantastic finisher to a highly entertaining album.
There is one thing that I don't like about The New Black and that is the second song, You Suck. I know the subject matter is funny and easily recognizable to all metalheads but the song just doesn't stick with me. It seems like the odd song out for me on the album which is full of well-crafted music. Maybe its just me.
The New Black is a great surprise when expectations are at their peak. It is something new from a band that has always been compared to their old work. And if indeed this is their last album then this one of the best finishes ever. Metal for the masses in its truest form.