Released: 1997, Century Media
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
It’s official: Devin Townsend has dethroned James Brown as “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business”. Admittedly, he is under the influence of several drugs—both prescribed and, well, not—yet one must marvel at the man’s stamina. Since going solo from Steve Vai’s band in 1995, Devin has released 4 CDs under the Strapping Young Lad name, 5 under his own name, as well as produced several CDs for other bands, including Soilwork and Lamb of God. He also operates his own label, HevyDevy Records, and has several side projects including books, video games, and who knows what else. Let’s not forget he writes, produces and plays most of the instruments on his albums…oh, and he just turned 30 years old!!.
Released in 1997, CITY was the second Strapping Young Lad CD and without a doubt, the best. For the recording process, Devin enlisted drummer extraordinaire Gene Hoglan (ex-Dark Angel, Death, Testament, Old Man’s Child), as well as bassist Byron Stroud and second guitarist Jed Simon. CITY begins with the instrumental noise track, “Velvet Kevorkian”. This track sets up the listener for the onslaught of manic aggression to come. One of Devin’s trademarks is his ability to put layer upon layer of sound on a track to create an overwhelming listening experience. “Velvet Kevorkian” does just that. “All Hail The New Flesh” is next and is one of the most brutal tracks on the CD. Beyond heavy, the drums and guitar work on this song is amazing. Up next is my favorite Strapping Young Lad song, “Oh My Fucking God”. Featuring some of Devin’s funniest lyrics, this song is so fast and so heavy, it leaves your head spinning (you should see the band perform it live!!). This song contains one of the most brilliant lyrics I have ever heard:
And until such time that you can prove me otherwise
I will continue with my agnostic travels
Until I've found a place that dreams with me...
...a place that feeds on my routine
These are words that I live by! “Detox” and “Home Nucleonics” continue to batter the listener. Hoglan’s drumming on “Detox” is particularly impressive. They finally slow down with “Room 429”, a cover of a 1993 Cop Shoot Cop song that Strapping Young Lad twists into “Devy Metal” but still maintain the slow dirge chorus and trippy keyboards. “AAA”, “Underneath The Waves” and “Spirituality” round out the album and are strong tracks, but don’t quite measure up to the brilliance of the rest of the CD.
CITY combines the industrial aggression of Ministry and Fear Factory with unbelievable speed, anger, humor and musicianship. Metal in the ‘90s doesn’t get any better than this.
KILLER KUTS: "All Hail the New Flesh," "Oh My Fucking God," Detox," "Home Nucleonics"