City review by Strapping Young Lad

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  • Released: Feb 11, 1997
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.4 (32 votes)
Strapping Young Lad: City
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Sound — 10
From the introductory bleeps remeniscent of Meshuggah's "Destroy Erase Improve" to the humourous last words of "Spirituality", the demented genius of Devin Townsend strikes with unparalleled impunity. Devin's use of samples here is extensive, adding keyboards as well creating the now famous "wall of noise" effect (the best example of this is on the final track, Spirituality). The guitar sound is punishing and the drums are relentless throughout the album. Gene Hoglan is in fine form here and as the introduction to the second track on the album kicks in, we can here why he is considered one of the greatest drummers in metal history. The blastbeats he manages to pull off here are breathtaking. The rest of the instruments seem to explode through one's speakers, with a fantastic array of samples being used to create an aural vision of the apocalypse. Third track "Oh My F***ing God" possess som eof the most intense vocals I've ever heard. He manages to deliver an entire verse with only one breath. How the man is still alive after that is beyond me. The rest of the album stays in this same vein, with the exception of their cover of Cop Shoot Cop's classic "Room 429", which adds an aura of unsettlement and is, I believe, the only track on the album not to use drop C tuning.

Lyrics — 10
Devin's sharp humour shines through here yet again. You may well remember the track "Satan's Ice Cream Truck" from their debut, Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing, which basically took the complete piss out of heavy metal motifs? Well the same thing is here, albeit in a less overt way. Don't get me wrong, the lyrics are as hate filled as ever, it's just that he approaches fury from a different angle. The sarcasm evident on All Hail The New Flesh is a great example of this, as the lyric goes "I'm so sorry (For you) Sorry! So all Hail the new flesh! And it suits me fine!" I believe here that he is making a commentary about new bands rising and becoming the darlings of the media whilst most bands struggle to make a living. Not only that, but the chorus of the third track is brilliantly offensive - "Oh My F--king God!" (best song title ever). In saying this, however, there are times where he comments on the state of our society. On "Home Nucleonics" he mentions a line "Technology will be the second coming, and it will hit us while we're looking for a man", which we can see is becoming more and more relevant each day as machines begin to take over every aspect of modern society. He has deeply personal lyrics in here as well, documented on tracks "Underneath The Waves" and "Spirituality". I believe that in Strapping Young lad, and on this album in particular, we are able to delve into the mind of a man who is suffering from a mental condition which has haunted him all his life and discover what he is truly thinking.

Overall Impression — 10
Quite frankly, this album stands out above any album I have ever owned. It sits above other albums which I deem higly influential to my playing style. I love everything about this album, the melodic brutality, the anger and, most of all, the fact that we will never see anything like this ever again.

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