Have you ever been frozen in place, in somewhat like a dream state, where you can’t seem to move your fingers or take a single step and when you try to speak you only whisper? Imagine that happening to you and that you’re being electrocuted at the same time. Except that it feels like you’re on Extasy. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, Strapping Young Lad.
The CD I am about to tell you about is entitled ‘City‘(Century Media Records) and the best description I can conjure up that would explain how you feel when you hear it, is that you’ve died and gone to Hell and they’ve sent you back, reanimated, electronically enhanced, and you fear nothing but not having the chance to hear this again and again. Mind you, I realize it’s embarrassingly late in the game. ‘City ‘ is not a new release, (it came out in 1997) and it is not even the latest release from Strapping Young Lad, but it deserves full attention, even if I have to use force.
From the very moment you hear the first violent strains of the opening track ‘Velvet Kevorkian‘ you will feel something altogether new and different in your veins. The experience continues with ‘All Hail the New Flesh‘, a maniacal journey fittingly titled ‘Oh My Fucking God‘ and other industrial brain crushers like ‘Detox‘, ‘Home Nucleonics‘ and ‘AAA‘, which I happen to be partial to because I’d love to be a stripper for one night and use this as my music. ‘Room 429‘ in all of its serial killer, creepiness is another standout track.
There are typically many players that make up a project of this caliber and contribute to the monstrous sound that it brings forth, but the main man on the frontlines would have to be the one and only Devin Townsend, who is clearly nothing short of brilliant. He is the epitome of pure musical genius and an industrial, sonic mastermind. He is so far ahead of his time that it is frightening.
Gene Hoglan is a diabolical madman on the drums, and Townsend’s longtime partner in all things wicked. He is to be admired and envied for his sheer abilities alone. Hoglan has been a respected and revered talent in the metal community for quite some time for lending his drumming skills to other projects. His contribution to Strapping Young Lad is stunning.
In other areas, the guitars are worked like sinuous nerves, plucked and teased until you are driven mad. The bass is beaten to a bloody pulp, and the vocals are so haunting that they follow you right into your fitful slumber. I read somewhere that this CD sounded like “the end of the world.” Whoever wrote that could not have been more accurate. This is the most beautiful vision of the apocalypse that I’ve ever heard. Pleasant dreams.