Strapping Young Lad
The New Black

Release date: July 17th 2006
Century Media
Distribution: EMI (Denmark)
Mad Thrash

Rating: 90/100
Cover artwork rating: 50/100

Reviewed by:
Thomas Nielsen
July 11th 2006

You gotta hand it to Steve Vai. He can spot a talent when he sees one. And that was what he did when he called in a completely unknown 21-year-old to sing on his ‘Sex & Religion’ album from 1993. That unknown fellow was none other than the multi-talented progeny Devin Townsend whom we have seen in various shapes since then, most notably with SYL and his Devin Townsend Band, but also as a guest musician for various bands and as a producer.  

Townsend has managed to pair himself with a host of metal angels who basically rip everything up on this new platter, ‘The New Black’. Most notably drum legend Gene Hoglan does a crushing job on the album, but the madness is wonderfully orchestrated by the entire troupe.  

The madness is a crucial element, but it is controlled and leaves the listener wanting more rather than feeling more than full. I keep thinking that there are elements of Fantomas lunacy as well as the structure and groove of Helmet and Pantera in here – all in a sweet chaotic harmony. And the whole thing is just ultra-heavy.  

Despite the madness, the album is very polished and clearly a studio effort. It should be interesting to see how this translates into a live setting. I’m sure, though, that Townsend’s ear for a catchy tune will ensure that the sing-along parts are in place.

There are riffs on this album that are to die for, believe me, and they are brought out with great conviction and sharp precision. A song like 'Hope' has captivated me totally. I can’t get that stomping riff out of my head!  

Get thee to the nearest record store and try this at home!