Music ReviewsRock

CD Review: Alien by Strapping Young Lad


If you want to know what a mental breakdown sounds like from the inside, look no further than the fourth album from Devin Townsend’s extreme metal project. In preparation for writing this album, Townsend purposefully stopped taking medication intended to treat severe bi-polar disorder, and from the first blasting notes of the opening track ‘Imperial’, you know you’re in for a rollercoaster ride of rage, depravity and neurotic lunacy. The album manages to maintain a mind-blowing balance between absurd, discordant brutality and soaring, beautiful melodies, with choirs of children adding an uncomfortable harmony to the frenetic guitar work of Devin and Jed Simon. It also showcases Gene Hoglan’s outstanding skills as a drummer, capable of launching into immense speed and precision whilst somehow maintaining tasteful grooves and restraint. It’s not an album for the faint-hearted, but those with brave ears will find themselves engulfed in the dark, twisted world of Townsend’s most violent psychosis. Its the soundtrack to your worst nightmares, and to this day is one of Devin Townsend’s finest productions.


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Dane Pavitt

As a university fresher in the big world, curiosity brought me to the local rock & metal bar, where for the first time I heard the likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Pantera and Slayer. Since then I’ve played as a rock DJ across the midlands, hosted my own radio show, seen dozens of bands at concerts and festivals, and become an entirely better person because of the influence of music, as my library continues to expand and diversify. Other favourites include Black Sabbath, Dio, Queen, David Bowie, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, The Who, Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, Depeche Mode, The Prodigy, Nightwish, Danzig, Brendon Small, Devin Townsend, Testament, Emperor, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Neil Diamond and countless others, though I’ll listen to anything that sparks an opinion.

Cheers and horns up!