STRAPPING YOUNG LAD
Industrial Metal • Canada

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Strapping Young Lad was an influential industrial metal band from Vancouver, Canada, started by Devin Townsend in 1994, Now disbanded (see Devin Townsend Project). Strapping Young Lad is the angrier, more aggressive side of Devin Townsend, The Devin Townsend Band is popularly known as the happier side.

Strapping Young Lad began as a solo project by Canadian musician Devin Townsend. Once he had completed his work as vocalist on Steve Vai's Sex and Religion and that album's subsequent tour, he recorded the majority of the instruments on the debut album, Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing.

Rather than remain a solo project, additional members and the release of the album City, saw SYL secure their line-up permanently. City was released to a huge response, prompting Kerrang! magazine to call it one of the heaviest albums ever.

SYL's third album, the self titled Strapping Young Lad, marked SYL's first release
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AlienAlien
Century Media 2012
Audio CD$65.00 (used)
AlienAlien
Double LP
BLOOD MUSIC 2017
Vinyl$23.99
City (Reissue)City (Reissue)
Remastered
Century Media 2012
Audio CD$10.73
$10.72 (used)
The New BlackThe New Black
Century Media 2012
Audio CD$8.23
$7.43 (used)
AlienAlien
Import
Imports 2009
Audio CD$64.54
$24.99 (used)
Strapping Young Lad - SYLStrapping Young Lad - SYL
Century Media 2012
Audio CD$35.00
$5.83 (used)
AlienAlien
Import
Sony Japan 2005
Audio CD$55.41
$12.93 (used)
Heavy As a Really Heavy ThingHeavy As a Really Heavy Thing
Century Media 1995
Audio CD$24.95 (used)
1994-2006 Chaos Years1994-2006 Chaos Years
Import
Century Media 2008
Audio CD$191.30
$13.07 (used)
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STRAPPING YOUNG LAD Discography

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.66 | 16 ratings
Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing
Industrial Metal 1995
.. Album Cover 4.06 | 30 ratings
City
Industrial Metal 1996
.. Album Cover 3.46 | 14 ratings
Strapping Young Lad
Industrial Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 4.30 | 28 ratings
Alien
Industrial Metal 2005
.. Album Cover 4.11 | 14 ratings
The New Black
Industrial Metal 2006

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Tour EP
Industrial Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
C:enter:###
Industrial Metal 2007

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD live albums

.. Album Cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
No Sleep 'till Bedtime: Live in Australia
Industrial Metal 1997

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD re-issues & compilations

.. Album Cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
1994 - 2006 Chaos Years
Industrial Metal 2008

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD singles (0)

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
5.00 | 1 ratings
For Those Aboot to Rock - Live at the Commodore
Industrial Metal 2004

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD Reviews

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD Strapping Young Lad

Album · 2003 · Industrial Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
voila_la_scorie
Around the end of 2014, I became a very devoted fan of Devin Townsend. While his solo projects and Devin Townsend Band and Devin Townsend Project were what attracted me to his music at first, I absolutely had to have the five Strapping Young Lad albums as well.

This third album in the catalogue was released several years after the highly popular City album. For many fans of the band, City was Strapping Young Lad. The debut was just a warm up. But during the intervening years between City and this self-titled third album, Devin was exploring other styles of muscial self-expression. Naturally, when a new SYL album was announced, fans were eagerly awaiting the release. Many, however, were disappointed as it was not a City II.

While City featured an unbridled aggression, waving a big middle finger at the music industry because of Devin's frustrations with it at the time, Strapping Young Lad was a little more polished, bearing some of the trademarks of Devin's other work. Nevertheless, Devin knew what fans were expecting and many of the songs are brutal auditory assaults with Gene Holgan's pummeling double bass complementing the explosive guitar and Devin's flesh-shredding screaming. The disappointment factor for me is that many of the tracks seem to have been written and recorded with that sole purpose in mind: to be loud and brutal. Of course Devin is an individual of deep thought and sensitive as well, so I have no doubt that there was great thought put into the lyrics. "Rape Song" was intended to express rage against a rapist but was misunderstood by some as condoning rape. Poor Devin had to clear that one up.

There are moments where I feel the brutality and the actual music (the chords, the drumming, the vocal work) do come together to create memorable songs, or at least songs I want to listen again from time to time. My two favourites are "Devour" and "Force Fed", the former a short screamer with a great gang-chanting chorus and the latter bridging both the older SYL and the future sound yet to come.

Of the five SYL albums, this one ranks number four with me. It's good but doesn't have the youthful rage of City nor the intentional rage of Alien, and also doesn't have the variety or daring humour of The New Black. Three stars for being one of the less creative, less intriguing products of Devin Townsend but still good enough to smash skulls.

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD Alien

Album · 2005 · Industrial Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
voila_la_scorie
Reading over reviews on different sites, it seems that Strapping Young Lad’s definitive album is considered by most to be “City”. I, however, put that album in third place out of the five SYL albums. It’s furious, intense, and mostly one heck of a ride. But I like “Alien” best.

There’s something about “City” that really grabbed people. Perhaps it was its brutal intensity and honesty. “Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing” was loud and a bit silly. “City” was honest to goodness anger and being fed up. After that, Devin Townsend spent time working on his solo albums which were where he could be more melodic and more sensitive. That’s not to say those albums weren’t heavy, and his trademark screaming vocal style found its way in aplenty. Then six years after “City”, SYL recorded a new album entitled “SYL” and though it was good and heavy and raw, most fans just didn’t see it as living up to “City”. In the meanwhile, Devin had started up a new band called Devin Townsend Band and released a debut shortly after “SYL”, having written and recorded both albums in the same period. Word is that he was disappointed that the fans hadn’t been happy about the latest offering by Strapping Young Lad and after recording an ambient / experimental album called “Dev Lab”, he devised a plan that could satisfy SYL fans.

The problem Devin faced was that when he had written and recorded “City”, he was really pissed off about how things were going for his musical career. He had to regain that anger – that rage! Having been diagnosed several years before with bipolar disorder and taking medicine to control his negative mood swings, Devin decided to quit taking the medicine. At first he felt a terrible panic and fear about leaving his safety harness. This is expressed in the final track of “Alien”, a hidden track called “Info Dump” which begins with static and a repeated static pulse like a bit of percussion while some incomprehensible voice speaks in the background of the static. The piece eventually builds and explodes with a calamity of static and guitar feedback with a booming voice overtop that makes me think of God conducting several speeding freight trains and crashing them all into a beached freighter. It’s a wreck of sound that is interrupted with explosions of a pulsing static boom. At the end someone, an older child I think, awakes with screams from a nightmare. That, Devin said, was meant to express how he felt going off his medication. Alright then.

So, here comes an unhinged and un-tethered Devin Townsend, and for the first several tracks its absolute mayhem. The songs are exploding rage with Devin screaming expletives and shouting hellfire while the guitars attack with the subtly of a supercell thunderstorm and drummer Gene Hoglan sends a furious assault of double bass drumming that always makes me feel like I am being shot at continuously by a machine gun of large calibre. I especially like “Shitstorm”, which is well titled as the sentiments expressed are indeed such a tempest, and “Love?” which must be the most played Strapping Young Lad song in my iTunes library.

One thing I find really outstanding is the use of synthesizers to give a background melody supporting the thunderous guitars. I read that for his album “Physicist”, Devin wanted to combine a Metallica thrash metal sound with Def Leppard’s bright pop keyboards. That album did not work out as well as its concept. But on “Alien” the synthesizers work very well, I feel. There’s also quite a show of Devin’s progressive side as the songs often feature abrupt tempo changes and odd time signatures. Some songs here are easily tech extreme progressive metal in some ways.

The mood finally lightens up for a bit with an acoustic and effects track called, “Two Weeks”, which to me sounds like a precursor to what would come on the Devin Townsend Project albums, “Ki” and “Ghost”. By “Zen” we are back to the intense and heavy thrashing of extreme metal again.

My copy of “Alien” has the simplified cover without the Strapping Young Lad name and just the band logo seemingly carved or stamped into the eerie space scene and the alien letters glowing red at the bottom. For me, this album really stands out and though I have very few albums in my collection of such extremeness, I’d say that it’s thanks to this one that I have come to appreciate this kind of screamo / aggro metal. But I also think that the use of Devin’s normal vocals, the keyboards, and the more advanced rhythm changes and meters make this album an easy favourite and preferable to “City”, great though I think most of that album is, too.

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing

Album · 1995 · Industrial Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
I am always amazed how some of the most unique sounding albums garner such a low rating in the metal world. Such is the case with the debut album by STRAPPING YOUNG LAD. This is the first album and group that Devin Townsend put together after his debut with Steve Vai on the album “Sex & Religion.” After a brief stint on tour with the power pop / rock outfit The Wildhearts, Townsend was ready to unleash all his inner pent up energy and that’s what we get on this debut album HEAVY AS A REALLY HEAVY THING. And heavy it is. This is some of the most intense and raw albums in the universe. It is relentless with an energy level that will literally drain your reservoirs after listening to the album in its entirety.

TOWNSEND was a bit ahead of his time. This album fuses elements of thrash, industrial, death and black metal all into one package. The riffs pummel your inner ears at the speed of light while the nice background frosting of synths sooths your soul simultaneously. At time Devin sounds like a black metal maniac complete with blastbeats, at others like Marilyn Manson or White Zombie. The thrashy parts can remind of Pantera, the electronic drums of Skinny Puppy. Most of the time though the influences are kept on a leash and Devin relentlessly delivers a his signatory wall-of-sound with the full backing of a caffeinated band. The music is both accessible and experimental at the same time. Usually one element of the music hooks you while the rest is free to go wherever it wants. The perfect example is “Satan’s Ice Cream Truck” where a nice groove sucks you in but weird sliding notes in all directions simultaneously sound like rabid bats flying over your head. I really like this album!

I have the 2006 remastered version and it sounds like a modern album. I have not heard the original so no comment. It comes with bonus tracks but i never listen to them because this album is so intense that when it is done, so am i, but i relish every energy infused second until that point. Not every track is of equal value but most are excellent and the remaining very good.

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD Alien

Album · 2005 · Industrial Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
After a brief hiatus and the warmup which was the self-titled album, Strapping Young Lad deliver a true followup to City in the form of Alien. If City had been an angry album, Alien unleashes downright world-shattering fury on the listener, with Devin Townsend's shocking rant on Shitstorm representing one of those rare, magic occasions in metal where an artist unleashes their most extreme, shocking lyrics and sounds absolutely, impossibly sincere throughout it. With the rest of the group more than pulling their weight, Strapping Young Lad pull out a late-career classic that outstrips even the mighty city when it comes to ferocity.

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD City

Album · 1996 · Industrial Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Although I find Devin Townsend's progressive metal material very hit and miss, Strapping Young Lad's second album (their first as a fully-fledged band project as opposed to a Devin Townsend solo project. And it's a beaut too, offering an incredibly angry industrial-thrash hybrid which demonstrates than when he wants to, Townsend can reach deep down inside himself and draw out a truly volcanic eruption of fury. One of the few Townsend albums I've encountered where the technical proficiency on display is matched by genuine-sounding emotional expression to the fullest extent, this makes me see his catalogue in a whole new light.

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