Rating:
8.5
Strapping Young Lad - Alien
22 March 2005


01. Imperial
02. Skeksis
03. Shitstorm
04. Love?
05. Shine
06. We Ride
07. Possessions
08. Two Weeks
09. Thalamus
10. Zen
11. Info Dump


Although I have to admit that I much preferred SYL in their original incarnation as an industrial/thrash/grindcore curiosity and not as some weird metal revivalist band, "Alien" really isn't a bad album at all. As a matter of fact, its an enormous improvement over the band's previous, lackluster release; however, it is absolutely nothing compared to 1996's groundbreaking "City".

Before the release of this album, in various interviews, as well as the special documentary videos released on the band's website, the guys from SYL have not missed a single opportunity to let us all know that they are more metal than thou and that they would do anything in the name of metal. Nevertheless, all of their silly metal antics aside, the music on "Alien" is on the whole rather interesting, intelligent and even somewhat innovative. The three styles that seem to be prevalent on this record are Emperor-esque black metal ("Imperial", "Shine"), brutal thrash metal ("We Ride", "Zen") and the technical drum and guitar interplay of bands like Fear Factory (obviously a significant influence on what SYL does). We will however also hear echoes of progressive metal ("Two Weeks", "Thalamus"), nu metal ("Skeksis"), grindcore ("Shitstorm") and even some slight allusions to traditional heavy metal ("Love?"). Keep in mind that although the above listing of styles might seem like every song comes from its own world (like they would on a Faith No More album, for example), this is not the case here at all. The album is not disjointed or schizophrenic as what SYL offer is a fusion of styles. Songs flow into each other seamlessly, make sense the way they are and succeed in not making "Alien" an intolerable mishmash of styles. I will not go to great lengths to describe the musicians' abilities and skills or just how brutal and aggressive their music really is. This is SYL and those things can be taken for granted in this band's case.

All of what I have written above being praise, you might be wondering why this album isn't getting a 10 from me. Well, the truth is, "Alien" simply doesn't have the same lasting appeal as "City" did. Although very satisfying in the short run due to its unadulterated energy, it quickly gets rather boring. Reportedly, "Alien" was supposed to be an exercise in catharsis and was thus meant to act on a visceral level. Once this gets old, the album doesn't offer much else in terms of keeping the listener interested (although that funky slap-bass in "Possessions" is damn cool). I don't see this as a major flaw since its near impossible to make an album that is both immediate and interesting in the long run but alas, a flaw it is...

Overall, although not without its slight drawbacks, I have to say that "Alien" is a simply stunning monolith of a record and worth the money of any metal fan interested in what is good in this genre of music today (provided they can get past their "We're more metal than thou" attitude).


Band profile: Strapping Young Lad
Album: Alien


 



Written on 07.05.2005 by
jupitreas
With Metal Storm since 2002, jupitreas has been subjecting the masses to his reviews for quite a while now. Privately not actually an asshole, he lives in Warsaw, Poland, where he runs his small graphic and web design business.
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Maxx666 - 22.09.2010 at 18:43  
I have to agree with jupitreas this is a stunning monolith work by Strapping young lad..but it do tends to get boring after some time
Kuroboshi - 22.01.2012 at 07:12  
On spot review, even though I rate it a bit higher. It does get boring after a while; however let it rest a few months and it will sound very refreshing yet again! I love how the schizophrenic state of nature on this album manages to sound coherent.
Apothecary - 30.01.2012 at 18:27  
I actually prefer Alien to City. I feel like the random, schizophrenic nature of both the music and the lyrics goes along with Devy's bipolar disorder. So, in a way, I think Alien reflect's his overall personality and silly nature better.
Ozman - 11.01.2014 at 17:17  
More than a couple of steps down from the great self-titled album and of course also a huge leap down from the brilliant City album.
Alien is just downright boring and the sound of this recording is just horrible.
!J.O.O.E.! - 11.01.2014 at 17:23  
Written by Ozman on 11.01.2014 at 17:17

More than a couple of steps down from the great self-titled album and of course also a huge leap down from the brilliant City album.
Alien is just downright boring and the sound of this recording is just horrible.

Only two songs worth hearing on this one. The rest are very bland and confused.
Ozman - 11.01.2014 at 17:50  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 11.01.2014 at 17:23

Written by Ozman on 11.01.2014 at 17:17

More than a couple of steps down from the great self-titled album and of course also a huge leap down from the brilliant City album.
Alien is just downright boring and the sound of this recording is just horrible.

Only two songs worth hearing on this one. The rest are very bland and confused.



tbh I only remember enjoying Shitstorm.

Alien is so immensely uninspired and lackluster it isn't even funny. No idea why Jups thinks SYL is the uninspired and lackluster one when clearly this one is.
deadone - 13.01.2014 at 00:37  
I agree with Marcell and !J.O.O.E.!.

I love SYL's self titled and found Alien to be irritating. It just blasts along mindlessly and the sound is pretty awful.

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