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The New Black is an odd creature; certainly diverting somewhat from the signature sound of Strapping Young Lad. As many others have noticed, its as if Devin has slightly lost focus of what SYL has always been about, and let influences from his various solo projects seep into the album. The album is definitely a mixed bag - a couple of impressive songs, a few terrible ones and too many average ones.
The album kicks off with "Decimator"; starting with fairly characteristic riffing, albeit with a tad more melody. Devy begins with some overtly clean vocals, which to tell you the truth, really, really stuck out when I first heard the album.
Now after a number of listens I find the clean vocals do work well, just as they have in the past. The melodic chorus riff - which is more of a Devin Townsend Band riff - works quite well.
The song progresses into the usual breakdown, a Vai type guitar solo and a crunching beatdown while voices chant "S - Y - L", of course not without a sense of self aware cheesiness. A solid song, nothing too inventive structure wise, through the melodic chorus worked quite well.
Next up we hit "You Suck," quite possibly one of the cheesiest Strapping songs recorded to date. While the chorus is a bit of fun, the song really suffers from a couple of lackluster passages. The intro is a great cacophony of double bass and noise.
The song kicks into a mid-paced verse for an extended period which reminds me of AAA on City. The breakdown is absolutely classic - throw in a brass section, a flute solo and you've got a winner. This song seems to harness Devy's experimentation without losing the original focus of the band. Still not to the level it should be however in terms of structuring.
The point is, there are a few duds on this album, which is a surprising and rare thing coming from such a consistently awesome band. Maybe they rushed this record, and maybe Devin needs a few months off to take a long nap and have some soup. And most of this album can take its place right alongside the band's best work. It's debatable whether this material will resonate with anyone not already hip to the band's warped sense of humor and frenetic musical spazz attack.
But who cares? All hail the not so new flesh! Almost Again Polyphony New Black. Reader be forewarned, no mere words will do this album any justice. Strapping Young Lad is among the rarest pedigree of metal bands, brandishing a style so visceral and unique that categorization is utterly futile. Industrial-thrash metal scratches the surface, but even that description seems hollow and misleading. Having said that, The New Black is a natural progression from last years Alien.
The music is densely layered, and disarmingly multifaceted. The lyrics range from deadly serious to lighthearted and comical, sometimes within the same song. Perhaps most impressive, SYL manage to be experimental without sacrificing their intensity or their credibility. One might call it the struggle of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde put to metal.Forget about your worries that Strapping Young Lad's new album, "The New Black," might be their last, that it was possibly released to get the band out of contractual obligations, and that this is the fastest they have ever released a new disc (it comes only sixteen months after last year's godly "Alien.")/5(32).