If havoc is wreaked on your eardrums or speakers this summer then you can blame Canada. On what is their fifth and most ambitious album to date since 1997’s City, the Canucks in Strapping Young Lad show they are one of the most eclectic and innovative bands in all of heavy music today. The New Black also makes for quite an ass-kicking swan song as it is reported to be SYL’s final album.
Front man Devin Townsend’s vocals are still as howling as ever while Gene Hoglan’s drum beats have shown no signs of letting up in their pummeling deliverance. As The New Black is a blend of skate punk, zigzagging math rock tempos with a hardcore thrust, they may come off as a bit epical, but don’t seem to overindulge. As furious and turbo-charged as SYL’s music has always been, there seems to be an icy yet underlined ambience throughout the album’s duration. Tracks like “Anti Product” contain a backdrop of horns, with an almost funk-ridden breakdown, as other standout numbers contain guest spots from GWAR’s “Oderus Urungus” on “Far Beyond Metal” and Canadian punkstress Bif Naked. The lyrics are sardonic as always, as it’s known that SYL doesn’t take themselves too seriously, yet they remain as cutting edge as their music. If The New Black has shown us anything, it’s that SYL can capture the nature of underground metal and hardcore at the same time they embrace a more current sound.