Review - Alien

Artist: Strapping Young Lad

Devin Townsend comes across in interviews as a semi-kooky guitar nerd with a healthy sense of humor and a very Canadian sense of polite self-deprecation. He comes across on disc like a full-tilt aggression junkie with some very serious rage issues. This dichotomy is what made SYL one of the most interesting groups operating on the fringes of extreme metal; however, as metal's gotten more and more extreme lately, those fringes have moved toward the middle and, crazily enough, the frenzied attack of SYL has become incredibly popular. So how does Townsend respond to his group's success? By making Alien perhaps his most bizarre and aggressive record yet. Carpeted in wall-to-wall blast beats, with ominous keyboards, hell-rotted vocals and dense riffs piled on top, the album is everything that's interesting about SYL turned up a couple of notches. Although there are brief flirtations with epic melodicism (of course, the song is called "Love?" so I've got to think it's a joke), Alien is fierce and relentless. Just like it ought to be.

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