Canadian extremists STRAPPING YOUNG LAD have returned with The New Black, a stunningly well-defined and more diverse effort that is soon to be a landmark in the epic pantheon of heavy metal. The group, led by singer, songwriter and producer Devin Townsend, have redefined their sound, creating what is soon to be the definitive release of their already stellar career. The album, mixed by the renowned Mike Fraser (Aerosmith, Metallica), is a thoroughly entertaining roller coaster encompassing a stunning blend of musical technicality, undeniable melodies and an abundance of shredding guitar solos, all backed up with humorous yet intelligent lyrics. Safe to say, expect the unexpected.
Before the release of the new album, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD are coming to Europe in June to unleash some new tracks (and all-time classics). For the first time in their career they will play the huge German events Rock Im Park / Rock Am Ring (Metallica, Tool, Lacuna Coil, etc.), the UK’s high profile Donington’s Download, Bologna’s Flame Fest, Sweden’s finest Hultsfred Festival and Finland’s Provinssirock Festival.
The album’s U.S. touring campaign kicks off when SYL hits the second stage at Ozzfest, alongside such acclaimed acts as Atreyu, Bleeding Through and Unearth, among others. Townsend further elaborates on the album and upcoming touring cycle: “We were very inspired with the idea of doing Ozzfest, and the concept we are running with on this record is really based around abhorring the current music scene, yet being a part of it in some weird way. SYL is ready to be a subversive product for the unwitting 14-year-olds to scream along with.” Once an underground phenomenon, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD are now on the verge of a major genre-defying breakthrough with The New Black, quite possibly their most accessible offering yet that Townsend promises will still challenge their listeners and claims is the next logical step in the group’s continuous evolution.
In 1995, Townsend quickly caught people’s attention with the debut STRAPPING YOUNG LAD album, Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing (recently reissued with bonus material) created solely to punish the senses of the metal underground; however, it was the sheer blast of utter insanity and carnage caught on 1997’s City that brought the entire metal community to its knees and helped the band garner cult status. The album was recorded at Steve Vai’s Mothership Studios in L.A. with acclaimed Swedish engineer Daniel Bergstrand (In Flames, Meshuggah) and would be the group’s first offering to feature the current lineup of Byron Stroud (now also of Fear Factory) on bass, Jed Simon (ex-Frontline Assembly) on guitars and the mighty Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Death, Testament) on drums. In the spring of 1997, SYL embarked on the Full Of Hate European tour alongside Crowbar, Entombed and Obituary, which immediately led into a U.S. tour with Stuck Mojo and Testament. In an effort to capture the unfiltered and uncompromising nature of their performances, the band recorded two shows in Melbourne, Australia in 1998, resulting in the live No Sleep Till Bedtime album.
Unfortunately, that same year, the band would take an unwelcome hiatus as Townsend nurtured a flourishing solo career, while concurrently honing his talents as a producer. In the midst of a slew of solo releases, including the highly acclaimed Ocean Machine, Infinity, Physicist and Terria projects, he also cultivated production credits on Lamb Of God’s As The Palaces Burn, Zimmer’s Hole (featuring SYL bandmates Simon and Stroud) and Soilwork’s critically acclaimed Natural Born Chaos album. Over time, the desire for new SYL material only grew stronger, and fortunately, in 2002, Townsend’s angst reached a breaking point. He decided it was time to vent the only way he knew how. This catharsis would result in 2003’s SYL, which garnered critical praise from the fans and media alike. After spending the better part of ‘03/’04 on the road alongside such genre titans as Nile, Meshuggah and Superjoint Ritual, Townsend realized the group’s potential, and it quickly became his sole focus over his many side-projects. The group’s mesmerizing live show was captured on their first-ever DVD, For Those Aboot To Rock (Live at the Commodore), released in November 2004, featuring a full set from a sold-out hometown show in Vancouver, B.C.
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD’s lineup, now more determined and focused than ever, unleashed in 2005 Alien upon the unsuspecting masses. This was the first SYL album written as a cohesive unit, and Townsend delivered on his promise to create the group’s most maniacal and outlandish offering to date. This offering quickly redefined the meaning of extreme and helped the group further solidify their spot as one of the scene’s elite artists, which led them to their biggest break (at the time) in the summer of 2005, a slot on the inaugural Sounds of The Underground tour, which also featured Lamb Of God, Opeth, and Unearth. The group’s overly-intense live performances clearly set the band well ahead of the pack while captivating the uninitiated crowds who were immediately drawn to the band’s perfect blend of melodic industrial thrash intensity. The word quickly spread to promoters and directly resulted in a spot on the Transgression Tour with Fear Factory, Soilwork and Darkane later that year.
In 2006, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD will leave their definitive mark on the genre leaving their contemporaries wondering how they could ever possibly compete.