Review Summary: Combining amazing musicianship with impeccable song writing, Devin Townsend and the gang reunite in the form of Strapping Young Lad to release one of their best efforts to date.
Music these days remains to be quite stale. There is rarely any originality that ever surfaces from the depths of any music genre these days. Sure, there are a handful of bands that really set themselves apart from the others, but the other less original bands usually overshadow these bands in sheer numbers. However, for these bands that stick to originality and their own sense of what they want their music to sound like, they are usually led by one main man. With Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend turns out to be the bands driving force and song writing machine. Sure, the band is pretty much a super group of Metal musicians, but Devin Townsend truly is the man behind the wheel and responsible for the bands truly original yet roaring sound.
Townsend is somewhat of an enigma to me. It still astonishes me how good of a song writer he is. While SYL is considered to be his most prominent group, many of his other recordings, such as his solo stuff, is quite amazing and almost endless in depth. "How does he do it?" I often ask myself. I know, this sounds like a lot of praise but I have to give the guy credit where credit is due; he is one hell of a song writer.
Probably one of SYL's best features is the fact that the band never seems to take themselves seriously. Sometimes this is a hit and miss with me, but with this band, for some reason it just fits. With lyrics such as "Vacation, procreation, sterilization, DISNEYLAND!!!", it's no wonder why Alien is such an amazing album. It's not just in the lyrics but in the sheer delivery of Devin's voice. It all just sounds quite amazing.
Alien is SYL's fourth full-length album and, for the exception of City, probably their best release to date. It mixes all of the good things about SYL's extreme yet lovable approach to Metal and combines it all in to an utter and complete masterpiece of heaviness. It's all here, from the ridiculously distorted seven-string guitars right down to Gene Hoglan's machine gun double bass drum barrage. This is an SYL fans wet dream if there ever was one. However, this album is not only just appealing to the SYL fanboys. All extreme Metalheads should find something to love with this beast of an album.
Devin's vocals, as usual, are simply amazing. To me, Devin has one of the best screams in the Metal scene. It's very distinct and you know it's him when you hear it. If I had to describe his scream, I would have to say it sounds more like a banshee screaming at the top of it's lungs. It's intense but ridiculously awesome all at the same time. However, while he can scream and growl like no one's business, Devin can also sing extremely well, and he proves it on tracks such as "Love?" and Possessions".
Also very prominent on this album is the amazing guitar work, which is done by Devin and Jed Simon. The riffs are heavy as can be and the solo's, when they show up, are very well done. They don't hold back, but they don't wank away either, which is what I love about this duo. It is much more digestible for the listener and really gets the point across better.
Th other instruments that appear on this album are also very well done. The keyboards on this album really stand out and are an integral part of SYL's signature sound. Also, Gene Hoglan's drumming is absolutely outstanding. All I will say is that the guy is blessed at what he does and, without him, the drumming on this album would, of course, not be near a good as what it is.
All in all, Alien is probably SYL's best effort to date. Sadly, the group is no longer really together as Devin Townsend recently has decided to go his own way and lead a cleaner and more spiritual life for his children. He still works on his solo stuff and recently brought out his newest album named "Ki". While I admire his dedication to his family, I am going to miss his crazy antics and awesome songwriting in the form of Strapping Young Lad.
For any Metalhead or SYL fan who has not already tried this album out, what's stopping you? Get this! It is an amazing album and definitely one I will continue to be listening to for a long time to come.