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Strapping Young Lad | The New Black | review | metal | Lollipop

Strapping Young Lad

The New Black (Century Media)
by Martin Popoff

Opener "Decimator" points to a kinder, gentler, more prog-sublime Strapping Young Lad, but once the shock sets in, "You Suck" takes it all back in a flurry of efficient death metal blasting and trademark self-deprecating lyrics. Then SYL swing back and forth between their slightly Zappa-esque melodic chicanery that started for Dev way back on Vai's Sex & Religion album, and geometry with hard and heartless instruments. And they can be loopy fast or loopy slow, I'd say much more so than on either of the last two albums, The New Black almost finding Zimmershole (Zimmers Hole? Zimmer's Hole) terrain, namely Byron and Jed in send-up mode. Best track is saved for deep in the sequence, "Almost Again" combining butt-shaking hair metal funkiness with scorching guitars, Dev's roaring Robin Zander vocals, and a whole bunch of swearing and sweating. All told, this is a pretty experimental album, not nearly as he-man thrash as Alien or SYL, more of a rule-breaker, which is what made City such a proud (and arguably unlistenable) creative moment in the extreme. Only this time, SYL move a little toward the plush, epic weirdness of Dev's otherly projects, blurring that line, still being bloody interesting at what they do, restless for that next frontier, sort of snickering at the idea of doing this for a living.


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