There are many great metal albums that were released in the decade known as the 1990s. However when you ask many metal heads to name some of their favorite albums, and what they think some of the best ones are, you generally hear the same albums listed. Generally the albums mentioned are Death’s Human, Sepultura’s Arise, Carcass’ Heartwork, Megadeth’s Rust In Peace, Cannibal Corpse’s Tomb of the Mutilated, Slayer’s South of Heaven, Blind Guardian’s Nightfall In Middle-Earth, Iced Earth’s Burnt Offerings and many many more. Now don’t get me wrong, these are all great albums and I enjoy them every time I listen to them. However everyone I talk to about this always seems to leave out one album, and not even mention it. Or if I do mention it, will say that they have not listened to it. This album is Strapping Young Lad’s City.
This is one hell of an album, and quite possibly one of the best albums of the 90s. Every song on this album flows perfectly, and Devin’s rage is controlled, but at the same time wild and untamed. From the opening bells of “Velvet Kevorkian”, we are set up to some of the most intense 40 minutes I have ever listened to. As soon as Devin kicks in screaming “HEY! I WANT TO BE WHERE THE ACTION IS!!”, we get a picture of the rage that Devin has pent up and he wants to release on us. With his tirade on how fucked up we are, and how much our society is pissing him off, we then get sucked into the vortex of “All Hail The New Flesh” with swirling guitars falling out as he wails into our ears with a piercing scream before telling us to go fuck ourselves. With blistering guitars and drums just pelting us sonically we are then thrown to the ground to be kicked in the stomach by “Oh My Fucking God”.
This song adds to the one-two punch that goes with the song before it. With the sound byte saying how they can’t fail, the drums suddenly kick in with a brutal solo, until Devin screams and his wall of sound comes in and blows us away with his guitars. A nonsensical tirade of words that are nigh untelligable until he gets to the chorus screaming “OH MY FUCKING GOD!!” Until it suddenly cuts off and leaves us with “Detox” and quite possibly the catchiest song on the album. This song showcases perfectly all of Devin’s abilities. From his brutality to his ability to express his pain while still being heavy as hell. A catchy riff, and catchy lyrics make this a catchily brutal song.
As soon as the song quietly goes away, “Home Nucleonics” blows you away with a wail and blistering guitar wall. Belting to us about how we have failed as a society. With stop and go riffs, the song feels like it is picking you up and slamming you on the ground with its sonic assault. Constantly beating you until it dissolves into all the members of the bands screaming madly, fading into to “AAA” which is a catchy song about Devin’s various addictions, slowly building up intensity until it hits you square in the face with its chorus screaming “NO ONE! NO ONE FUCKS WITH ME!!”. “Underneath The Waves” then blasts us in the face with double bass pedals and Devin taunting us with his voice repeating “on and on”. Until kicking in with the signature wall of sound and Devin singing about how he’s tired of the shit of world, making this not only intense sonically, but also vocally. After this song, the album begins to slow down it’s sonic intensity for a more brooding intensity.
“Room 429” is a cover of a Cop Shoot Cop song. It’s very dark and very mid tempo, but it still has all the intensity of the earlier tracks. How dark and empty the city is, how we go through the motions of life. “Spirituality” is the final track of the album, with layers and layers of guitars stacked upon each other. This sheer heaviness of the stacked guitar tracks just seem to pile up on you, putting all the wait of city on you, making you feel overwhelmed. Which is the purpose of this album, to make you feel insignificant and tiny. That you are really nothing in this world, an insignificant speck in the grand scheme of things.
All these songs are catchy and instantly memorable. As soon as you hear one of these songs, you will be humming along with it, singing along with it, or just going buck wild. It is a classic album, and it should be remembered as one of the best albums of the 90s, if not one of the best metal albums ever made.