Strapping Young Lad - Alien review
|Band:||Strapping Young Lad|
|Release date:||March 2005|
06. We Ride
08. Two Weeks
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).
||Written on 07.05.2005 by With Metal Storm since 2002, jupitreas has been subjecting the masses to his reviews for quite a while now. He lives in Warsaw, Poland, where he does his best to avoid prosecution for being so cool.|
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| Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
| Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
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