Strapping Young Lad
Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing


3.5
great

Review

by William Hughes USER (17 Reviews)
May 17th, 2008 | 64 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist


By 1995, Devin Townsend was at a weird place in his life. Having been abandoned by Steve Vai after touring for the album Sex and Religion, he had attempted to start up some other projects which all failed. As a result, Devin was left in California without even enough money to return to his home in Canada. All of this made Devy an angry man.

So what does an angry man do? Go on a murderous rampage? Center one-self by becoming a monk? Well the answer for Devin was release his aggression with his new project under the moniker, Strapping Young Lad with its first album, Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing. Devin took the reins of this project, for a recording process that according to Devin took only about a week, playing a majority of the instrumentals. He used a drum machine and session musicians on occasion aw well but this project, was mostly Devin.

The title says it all with this album. From start to finish the album strikes the listener with heaviness, but such that is in no way brooding or heavy-handed. The opening track, S.Y.L. begins with, strangely enough, a child discussing a bear who “ate the kids,” a repetitive clunking news, and, most surprising of all, some techno? This techno-esque music continues through the first verse and chorus but eventually gives way to the more industrial-esque sound SYL fans know and love. This track is one of the highlights of the album and of SYL in general combining menacing verses, all-out insanity, and a surprisingly powerful chorus due to the atmospheric keyboard play.

Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing continues in this vein throughout the album. The riffs, though mostly chugging, never really get boring and always compliment and push the intensity. The drumming, because it is done by machine, gives the album a strangely robotic feel that actually makes the guitars, keys, and vocals even more intense and menacing. The vocals, well, it’s Devin Townsend. Next to Mike Patton, there is no vocalist that is at the same time terrifying and strangely appealing to the ear. Every second of this album is a vocal highlight so no song can really be pointed at as a true shining moment. Singing, screeching, screaming, cackling, and growling are all utilized by Devin to marvelous effects. The bass is nowhere to be found.

Samples are also prevalent accentuating the music perfectly such in the destruction that is Happy Camper (Carpe B.U.M.). The track's mood ranges from face-crushing intensity to head-exploding intensity. The listener receives an oral bludgeoning of vocals that are so fast it seems like scat rather than actual words being sung. The sample at the end states “What a miserable guy!” in a deep voice that lightens the intensity of what was just heard and iterates what the listener is no doubt thinking.

The title of this album also displays another key theme of the music. Metal can be intense AND funny. Tracks like Goat, The Filler-Sweet City Jesus and the bonus track Satan’s Ice Cream Truck are all targeted more at tickling the listener's funny bone and succeed. They are all funny, but at the same time, intense and strong listens. Especially with Satan’s Ice Cream Truck which combines clown-like crooning in the verses and the most intense growls of the album in the chorus. The song is encouraging the “little kiddies” to hop “inside my van” and get their ice cream, alluding to a pedophile but in the most comedic and innocent of ways (I guess). The only solo to be found on this album is on this track and is so catchy and clean and familiar, it may have the listener get the feeling of squeezing a teddy bear.

It’s hard to see the negatives of an album you truly love but they are there. The production is nowhere near as good as with later SYL releases. The chug, chug, chug riffs could cause technicality-seekers to laugh this off as bad. The bass (if there even is one) is inaudible. The music, however, is not meant to be a showing of virtuoso-ism or technicality. To quote Devin, "Songs didn't really matter; it was just the intensity and the vibe plus lots of humor." That is really what the album is all about.

Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing sold 143 copies in its first six monthes. Now it’s reissue has been said to be the “rebirth of a genre-defying classic.” Though not a classic it is still a must have for any fan of Devin Townsend, SYL, or Metal in general. It set the groundwork that would eventually lead to the release of City, a classic. In and of itself, however, it is an album that combines industrial, death metal, and adds some comedy for good measure. It is what death metal should be, intense, angry, and most of all, an enjoyable listen.



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user ratings (296)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
hermitspancho
March 31st 2008


278 Comments


I've been meanning to pick something up by this band for a while now.
Good review ,I like the bio stuff as I didn't know too much about them

willfellmarsy
March 31st 2008


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Start with City if you want their best but they are all fantastic so it really doesn't matter.This Message Edited On 05.17.08

botb
March 31st 2008


9721 Comments


yeah you can't really go wrong with any records you pick up. City would be a good one to start with, or perhaps The New Black.

jrowa001
March 31st 2008


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album is pretty good, but i barely ever listen to it. i tend to be preoccupied with City, Alien or the s/t albums

willfellmarsy
March 31st 2008


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I never really listened to this or the self-titled until a couple weeks ago. This is fantastic though so i suppose i'll go to the s/t next.

XSebbyMcMuffinX
March 31st 2008


339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Finally someone reviewed this. Good review at that.

webbtje
March 31st 2008


41 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

At last, this gets reviewed! Not a great album, the muddy production kills it. Even Dev says the only decent songs on it are SYL and Rainy Season.

Also, the solo in Satan's Ice Cream Truck makes you think of a teddy bear? Not surprising, it's the tune of 'If you go down to the woods today...'

spoon_of_grimbo
March 31st 2008


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is a great album, but i rarely listen to it because of how great the albums that followed are. i think SYL hit their stride afterwards when devin actually made it a full band, and they perfected their signature sound. SYL and Rainy Seasons are the only ones off this that really got played live after City was released, which is sort of indicative that the rest of the album was an exercise in finding the right sound rather than actually putting it into use.

btw, if you haven't already, check out devin's solo stuff. it's a lot mellower, but just as amazing.

willfellmarsy
March 31st 2008


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I have checked out all of his stuff pretty much ever but i'v kinda over saturated his solo stuff so i've been a lot more into SYL.
I knew Satan's ice cream truck's solo was from something but i couldn't place it. It's still fantastic for the song however.
I'm definately a devin fanboy so i hope i didnt get to fanboy-ish in the review.

Wizard
March 31st 2008


19519 Comments


Wow, really good review and content. I really enjoyed this line:

Next to Mike Patton, there is no vocalist that is at the same time terrifying and strangely appealing to the ear

Couldn't have said it better!
I still need to buy this reissue. All of their other albums are solid, especially SYL!


Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

willfellmarsy
March 31st 2008


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't have the reissue either but i've heard the bonus tracks and they are pretty awesome.
I personally love devin more because i have a man-crush on him bigtime but patton is probably better.

Wizard
March 31st 2008


19519 Comments


Me too with the man crush thing........but shhhhhhh don't tell anybody!

His ideas are brilliant and if you have ever had the pleasure of seeing him live (I've seen him with his solo band and SYL), you will find him to be one of the funniest frontmen in metal today!

willfellmarsy
March 31st 2008


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

O boy ... my left testicle would be in an envelope to ticketmaster right now if need would be to see him but alas he is "retired" right now so my hopes to see him live seem like unreachable goals.
When he said he was done with SYL and DTB i mourned for three days and wore nothing but black.

Wizard
March 31st 2008


19519 Comments


Hahahahahaha (sending you flowers right now)

spoon_of_grimbo
March 31st 2008


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

to be fair, he did hint in his "retirement statement" that he'll probably return to making music, and he's just having some time off. he's been real fucking prolific since the start of SYL and DTB, so i suppose it's only fair he should take some time off.

willfellmarsy
March 31st 2008


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I completely agree. He can take all the time he needs. I'm more upset bout the no more SYL or DTB. His solo projects are great but i love SYL and DTB for the combined efforts of all the members (Devy+Gene Hoglan is a favorite combo of mine).

Willie
Moderator
April 1st 2008


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

This isn't that good of an album... I like it because it has a different sound, but I only really like "S.Y.L" and "Cod Metal King" (love that song).

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

DethThrasher
November 18th 2008


462 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I FUCKING HATE YOU I FUCKING HATE YOU

DanPrower
September 25th 2009


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Satan's ice cream truck remains the funniest thing to get drunk and listen to...

TRMshadow
December 24th 2009


4982 Comments


From what I've heard of this so far, I'm actually preferring this to some of their other stuff like S/T and TNB.



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