Strapping Young Lad
Alien


4.5
superb

Review

by Tim Bartolini USER (11 Reviews)
October 23rd, 2011 | 21 replies | 3,653 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You are now Devin’s bitch. Now you’ll sing for him.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

Words cannot describe 2005’s Alien. Not only is Alien one of the most outstanding outputs from Strapping Young Lad; this record is insane to the point that it simply cannot be described with the word “insane” alone. Devin and the gang really show that they know how to focus your mind, send it in ten different directions, focus it again, then send it in ten different directions again. Even so, part of what makes this record so special is that it is so consistent in comparison to previous records, such as City and Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, while avoiding the lingering sense of redundancy present on their self-titled release. The band does a good job of keeping this level of consistency steady throughout Alien. Somehow, Strapping Young Lad manages to follow chaotic tracks such as “Shitstorm” with much more normal – rather, traditionally structured – tracks like “Love?” and still sound excellent.

Townsend has stated many times that he believes Meshuggah is the greatest metal band in existence. There is no denying that Meshuggah has influenced Strapping Young Lad’s music on Alien. Examples include the track “Shitstorm” with its polyrhythmic riffs and Gene Hoglan’s masterful drumming, as well as “Possessions” and “Skeksis” with their deep guitar tones. It is quite interesting how Strapping Young Lad took a path from City to Strapping Young Lad that headed in a more death metal oriented direction after their three year hiatus, then decided to change paths to head towards a much more progressive and extreme sound. Not every moment on the album is rapid-fire, though. “Shine” may be crazy compared to most other metal tracks, but it is nothing compared to other tracks on Alien. Not a problem, of course; in fact, it is what the album needed after four migraine-invoking songs. On the other hand, “Thalamus” can come across as somewhat unnecessary since it follows “Two Weeks”, an acoustic track backed by spacy ambience and flute-like sounds in which Townsend sings about going to the beach. Crazy, right? “Thalamus” did, however, further prove that Townsend can use his voice to create amazing harmonies similar to one at the end of the song “In the Rainy Season” off of the band’s debut.

Alien also introduces to listeners something they have not heard from Strapping Young Lad before: guitar solos. The majority of the guitar solos are but a few seconds long and do not have much musical structure to them, though there is one solo that really stands out. The thrashy headbanger “We Ride” has a solo that comes in two parts, starting off with some interesting sweeping and finishing with some of the catchiest shredding extreme metal has to offer. The track as a whole is short and keeps a steady rapid pace throughout its entirety, making it the best midpoint Alien could have.

All in all, Alien is an amazing album. Townsend and his fellow band mates have managed to create an outstanding collection of songs that work well together and may give listeners the desire to either punch through every door they approach instead of opening it, or simply just to yell at it saying how much they hate it. Every song on the disc is individually unique, including the album closer “Info Dump”, a track composed of different sounds that all resemble a radio receiving faulty transmissions. Strapping Young Lad have truly crafted an epic piece of metal music.

Alien is really really fucking insane. It is also really really fucking amazing.


Highlights:
Skeksis
Shitstorm
We Ride
Possessions



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Comments:Add a Comment 
KILL5
October 23rd 2011



429 Comments


city's better

macadoolahicky
October 23rd 2011



1835 Comments


I loved City, but it was all over the place. All Hail the New Flesh was melodic, Oh My Fucking God was crazy as hell, Detox was thrashy, Home Nucleonics crazy as hell, etc.

macadoolahicky
October 23rd 2011



1835 Comments


I loved City, but it was all over the place. All Hail the New Flesh was melodic, Oh My Fucking God was crazy as hell, Detox was thrashy, Home Nucleonics crazy as hell, etc.

KILL5
October 23rd 2011



429 Comments


whats wrong with that

macadoolahicky
October 23rd 2011



1835 Comments


I liked how Alien was more consistent.

thatdudeud0ntknow
October 23rd 2011



164 Comments


Never liked Strapping Young Lad to be honest. Not that there's anything wrong with the band itself, just that heavy metal will never be my thing. I'll stick to Devin's solo work for now.

Nevertheless, good review.

macadoolahicky
October 23rd 2011



1835 Comments


Many thanks.

Yeah, I enjoy his solo work a lot too.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 23rd 2011



5992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have this in physical copy, in certain parts of some songs, the sound volume is fluctuating and not in a good way...

Has anyone else noticed it or is it just me?

Digging: Lisa Gerrard - Twilight Kingdom

Maniac!
October 23rd 2011



26250 Comments


mandatory m/

Shuyin
October 23rd 2011



11426 Comments


damn i keep hearing good stuff about these guys, need to get one of theyr albuns someday, good review btw

Digging: Integral - Sercosa

BugZoid
October 23rd 2011



331 Comments


Pretty informative review, and I love the constant insanity reminder. It's a nice touch of motif. I've never been a huge fan of Devin, as there's something about his lyrics that just.. well I don't really like the laughable lyrics that he produces at times. Not that they aren't what he's good at. Just not my thing. I always debated between getting this and 'City'. I heard 'City' is hard to get into, so maybe I'll give it a shot. Nice job though.

macadoolahicky
October 23rd 2011



1835 Comments


Thanks. Strapping Young Lad is a fairly unusual band, so they might be hard to get into in general. If you like death metal, you'll like their self-titled album. There are some songs by the band that most people can enjoy, it's just hard to get into albums as a whole.

Gmork89
October 23rd 2011



5502 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review, Shine might be my favorite SYL track.

tarkus
October 23rd 2011



5560 Comments


I heard City first, then this, the first time I heard this I thought it was shit

Then I took a break and came back and it rules

MO
October 23rd 2011



18451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album rules. Shine is one of my favourites from from SYL. Massive ending.

Digging: Immolation - Dawn of Possession

Hawks
October 23rd 2011



35446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think this and City are pretty equal.

Digging: Sun Worship - Elder Giants

Shuyin
October 24th 2011



11426 Comments


thx for the rec, i like death metal so ill deff start by that 1

Destructerator
January 9th 2012



853 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Great review, you don't need to censor yourself though.

macadoolahicky
January 19th 2012



1835 Comments


Sputnik did it for me, let me see if I can fix that ^.^

macadoolahicky
January 19th 2012



1835 Comments


There we go. Apparently right when you submit the review, it censors everything for you. If you go back and edit it, it won't censor it afterward. Weird



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