"some music was meant to stay underground..."

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Band Photo: Strapping Young Lad (?)

Formed: 1995
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Last Known Status: Active

Background

With a musical resume that includes well-known names such as Steve Vai, Jason Newsted, James Murphy, Geezer Butler, Stuck Mojo, The Wildhearts, Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, and Paradise Lost, the frenzied work ethic and more furious musical visions of the gifted and prolific Devin Townsend needed an outlet. In 1994, Strapping Young Lad was created to punish the senses of the metal underground and to create their own niche of labyrinthine metal. Their self-produced 1995 debut album, "Heavy As a Really Heavy Thing," was nothing short of premeditated assault and battery. Two years later, with the brotherhood of the band solidified, the scene was devastated with the impressively dark, savage, and self-produced obliteration of City (recorded at Steve Vai’s Mothership Studios with acclaimed Swedish engineer Daniel Bergstrand [Meshuggah, In Flames, Darkane]), which Revolver Magazine likened - in their “69 Greatest Metal Albums Of All Time” list - to “getting hit by Muhammad Ali.” One listen and you’ll see why it is the perfect background music for the Clockwork Orange scene where Malcolm McDowell’s eyes are forced open as he’s subjected to endless scenes of violence. In the spring 1997, SYL embarked on the Full Of Hate European tour which included Entombed, Obituary, and Crowbar, and then returned to North America to tour with Testament. In an effort to capture the unfiltered and uncompromising insanity of their performances, the band recorded two shows in Melbourne, Australia in 1998 resulting in the once again self-produced "No Sleep Till Bedtime," which has become the definitive SYL live document crowned with splashes of humor, which fans at the Dynamo Festival could attest to.

Lending credibility to the statement “Genius knows no rest,” Devin Townsend has also nurtured a flourishing solo career while concurrently honing his talents as a producer. In the midst of seven official solo releases, Devin has cultivated production credits on Zimmers Hole (featuring SYL bandmates Jed Simon and Byron Stroud), Gene Hoglan’s The Almighty Punchdrunk, Just Cause, December’s Lament Configuration, and Natural Born Chaos by Sweden’s Soilwork, named Album of The Year for 2002 by Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles.

With so much hate expended out at the world, it’s a wonder there’s any angst left to guide you on another expansive odyssey across a vast, unexplored landscape of exasperation, but Devin Townsend is someone who abhors mediocrity and incompetence in any form. On this self-titled fourth album, "SYL," every song is an exhalation of life (regardless of its insolence) where you will experience three or four genres of metal in the course of the same album. The Armageddon-bound aggression (spawned from the events that centered around New York City on September 11th, 2001) can clearly be heard in the various tongues it speaks in: through its black and death metal riffs (courtesy of Devin and Jed Simon), in the thrash backbone firmly anchored by ex-Dark Angel/ex-Death/ex-Testament Gene Hoglan’s thunderous drumming, in the industrial-yet-still-human rhythms mimicking the unforgiving throbs of a migraine headache in Byron Stroud’s bass work, and in the rabid energy of the harsh, harmonic, and howled vocals of Devin’s manic verse with lung capacity that Luciano Pavarotti would envy.

Produced by Devin and recorded at the famed Armoury Studios (KISS, Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe) in Vancouver, British Columbia, SYL is bludgeoningly loud, lead-lined, unbridled, vein-rupturing, stroke-inducing, damn-the-consequences instrumentation. This is rage no longer turned masochistically inward but outward. This is an explosion in the face. This, without question, is war music. In the words of Devin Townsend, SYL is "an extreme assault of the most musical nature." In the layman terms of Kerrang! Magazine, the music of chaos believers Strapping Young Lad is "like sticking your head into the jet nozzle of a Stealth bomber."

Chaos is not hell, it is glorious, and it can create living blueprints of a master plan for retribution such as what you're holding in your hands right now. Never expect anything less than extremity from Strapping Young Lad.

Strapping Young Lad Interviews and Features

Below are our features and interviews with Strapping Young Lad.

Interview

A Chat With Devin Townsend

Devin Townsend is regarded as one of the most prolific artists in music today. Having just released two albums simultaneously before embarking on a tour with Children of Bodom without any signs of stopping, Devin manages to keep his gears forever in motion. Metalunderground.com was able to reach Devin before his show at Chicago's House of Blues on July 6th for an exclusive interview. More...

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Interview

An Interview with Gene Hoglan Down Under

Gene Hoglan’s drumming style adds a distinctive intricacy and complexity to Fear Factory, already evident in his other seminal collaborations: Strapping Young Lad, Dark Angel, Death and Testament. The ever-present irony and humour of Hoglan’s style is reflected in his playing on the recorded albums of Dethklok from the series Metalocalypse, The intensity of Hoglan’s drumming is buttressed by the constancy and accuracy of his ferocious double kick rhythms, executed to blistering tempos. Touring Australia with Fear Factory, Hoglan reflects on the early influence of Slayer, working with Devin Townsend, blast beats and the satirical element of metal. More...

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Interview

"The Atomic Clock" Gene Hoglan Interviewed

Branded the most brutal metal drummer of our time, Eugene "Gene" Victor Hoglan II, has been consistently acclaimed for his creativity in drum arrangements, including usage of odd devices for percussion effects and his trademark lengthy double-kick drum rhythms. His highly technical precision of playing increasingly fast and challenging tempos, with extreme accuracy, earned him the nickname "The Atomic Clock." He is best known for his works with the bands Death, Strapping Young Lad and Testament.

Completely self-taught, Hoglan got his first drum kit when he was 13. He began his music career in the early 80s, playing drums during concert sound checks for legendary metal band, Slayer, and working as their lights engineer on tour. He also formed the well known thrash band, War God, with Michelle Meldrum. At the end of the same year he was asked to drum for the thrash metal band Dark Angel, and wrote most of the lyrics for their next three albums. He achieved even greater notoriety during the 1990s playing with Death, recording an album with the thrash metal band Testament, and making the acquaintance of Canadian multi-instrumentalist Devin Townsend, forging a lasting friendship. He has since recorded several albums with Townsend, both as part of the speed/industrial/death metal band Strapping Young Lad and Townsend's solo albums.

Hoglan recently played on "The Dethalbum," for Adult Swim's animated TV show, Metalocalypse. "The Deathalbum," debuted at #21 in the Billboard 200, making it the highest charting death metal album in history. He just finished touring with Dethklok, selling out shows in every city. Hannah and I got to sit down with Gene and discuss the Dethklok tour, various percussion instruments he's created, and the recent loss of his dear friend Michelle Meldrum. More...

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Interview

Interview With Strapping Young Lad's Jed Simon

In anticipation to the Sounds of the Underground Tour, I sent a few interview questions via e-mail to one of the bands on the bill – a local Vancouver metal band by the name of Strapping Young Lad. Guitarist Jed Simon took the time to answer these questions: More...

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