Strapping Young Lad “City” (1997)

With this one it’s hard to know where to begin. How about “the heaviest finest angriest slab of cyber metal ever”? This record came, conquered and remained on the throne. It pretty much defines what can be accomplished with the proper amalgamation of extreme metal and industrial music (along with Ministry and Red Harvest, of course).

Opening with a flooring but short intro in “Velvet Kevorkian” which segues into the face-ripping “All Hail the New Flesh”, the record quickly and explosively establishes its sound and identity. The song that follows up the intensity another notch is the headbanging anthem “Oh My Fucking God”. Thrash (and some Death/Grind) riffage layered with all manners of samples and synths, backed by the rhythm section from hell (how can you go wrong with Gene Hoglan on drums?) races along, all topped off with some of the most original vocals in metal (Devin Townshend is a phenomena unto himself, going from tough guy vocals to screeches and screams to heart wrenching wails and singing, all in the same song and all suitably reverbed).

It is a winning mix, especially when the brutality is contrasted by slower, more atmospheric and intensely emotional sections, where the synths, guitars and vocals make a strangely ambient melodic mix creating a wall-of-sound that became Devin’s trademark. Another ace of the band is the lyrical contact, which is angry and direct (to the point of almost being punk/hardcore) and clearly understandable, thanks to the amazing production job (courtesy of Devin himself, with engineering by Daniel of Meshuggah fame).

All the songs here are killer, catchy and epic at the same time (something which is very hard to achieve). They flow seamlessly and the sequence makes perfect sense. As Devin has repeatedly stated in interviews, it is his catharsis and it shows. Many of the themes here are developed further on subsequent SYL and DTB releases, but none comes close to the sheer insanity of this record. The Cop Shoot Cop cover is a great choice and brings variety to the record, while still sounding like a SYL tune.

All in all, this is one of the top metal releases of all time, and still sounds as refreshing and vibrant today as the day it was released. If you haven’t had the pleasure, pick it up today for a truly cerebral yet vicious metal experience.



Release:  1997
Label:  Century Media Records
Avantgenre:  Industrial Thrash Power Metal
Duration:  40 Minutes
Origin:  Canada / USA
Official site:
Review online since:  02.09.2007 / 12:33:51


01 – Velvet Kevorkian
02 – All Hail The New Flesh
03 – Oh My Fucking God
04 – Detox
05 – Home Nucleonics
06 – AAA
07 – Underneath The Waves
08 – Room 429 (Cop Shoot Cop Cover)
09 – Spirituality

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