Strapping Young Lad

Strapping Young Lad

Infobox musical artist
Name = Strapping Young Lad

Img_capt = Strapping Young Lad in 2006, left to right: Byron Stroud, Gene Hoglan, Devin Townsend and Jed Simon.
Img_size = 250
Landscape = Yes
Background = group_or_band
Origin = Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Genre = Extreme metal
Years_active = 1995–2007
Label = Century Media
Associated_acts = The Wildhearts, The Devin Townsend Band, Punky Brüster, Steve Vai, Zimmers Hole, Tenet, Fear Factory, Dethklok, Pitch Black Forecast
URL = []
Current_members = Devin Townsend
Jed Simon
Byron Stroud
Gene Hoglan
Past_members = Adrian White
Chris Bayes
Chris Meyers
Smokin' Lord Toot

Strapping Young Lad was a Canadian extreme metal band formed by Devin Townsend in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1995. The band started as a one-man studio project; Townsend played most of the instruments on the 1995 debut album, "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing". By 1997, he had recruited permanent members; this line-up, which consisted of Townsend on vocals and guitar, Jed Simon on guitar, Byron Stroud on bass, and Gene Hoglan on drums, lasted until the band's dissolution.

Containing elements of death, thrash, black and industrial metal, Strapping Young Lad's music was characterized by the use of complex time signatures, polyrhythmic guitar riffing and drumming, blast beats and Wall of Sound production. The band's musical direction was mainly determined by Townsend, whose battle with bipolar disorder and dark sense of humour were major influences on his songwriting. Townsend was also noted for his eccentric appearance and on-stage behaviour, which greatly contributed to the band's intense live performances.

The band gained critical success and a growing underground fan base from their 1997 album "City". After a hiatus between 1999 and 2002, the band released three more albums, reaching their commercial peak with the 2006 effort, "The New Black". Townsend disbanded Strapping Young Lad in May 2007, announcing his decision to retreat from public view while continuing to record solo albums.


"Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing" and "City" (1995–1998)

Strapping Young Lad began in 1995 as a solo project of Canadian musician Devin Townsend. Following his work as vocalist on Steve Vai's 1993 album "Sex & Religion" and its 1994 tour, Townsend believed he had been a "musical whore", spending "the first five years of [his] career working at the behest of other people". [Rocca, Jane. "Devin Townsend interview." "Loudmouth". 1997, Iss. 2.] During a brief stint as touring guitarist for The Wildhearts, Townsend received a phone call from an A&R representative for Roadrunner Records, expressing an interest in his demos and an intention to sign him. The offer was ultimately rescinded by the head of Roadrunner, who regarded Townsend's recordings as "just noise".cite web|title=Devin Townsend interviewed by Tony on 3RRR FM, Melbourne|publisher=The Church of Devin Townsend|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|month=April | year=1997] He faced further rejection by Relativity Records, the label behind Vai's "Sex & Religion", who saw no commercial appeal in his music.cite web|title=Bracing for Success - CoC interviews Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad|publisher=Chronicles of Chaos|author=Bromley, Adrian|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=1995-01-10] Century Media Records subsequently contacted the musician, offering him a contract to "make us some extreme albums". Townsend agreed to a five-album deal with the record label. [cite news|title=Devin Townsend: 'I Don't Have Anything To Say With Strapping Young Lad Anymore'||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-07-04]

Following his tour with The Wildhearts, Townsend began recording and producing his debut album, "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing", under the moniker Strapping Young Lad. According to Townsend, the recording process took "about a week". Embracing The Wildhearts' anarchist approach, "while focusing on dissonance and just being as over-the-top as [he] could",cite album-notes|title=Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing (Reissue)|albumlink=Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing|bandname=Strapping Young Lad|year=2006|first=Devin|last=Townsend|format=CD liner|publisher=Century Media|publisherid=8259|mbid=d7e69864-9aa3-4342-b7b5-6fa57d2e0f07] Townsend sang on the record and performed the majority of its instrumental tracks (with the assistance of a drum machine). A few songs, however, featured local session musicians, including guitarist Jed Simon, Townsend's future band mate.

filename= Strapping Young Lad - S.Y.L..ogg
title="S.Y.L." (1995)
description="S.Y.L.", the opening track on "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing", demonstrates Townsend's musical approach at the time: "Songs didn't really matter; it was just the intensity and the vibe plus lots of humor".
Released on April 4, 1995, "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing" was not widely recognized in the metal community. The album sold 143 copies in its first six months,cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad - The New Black - Review|author=Lee, Cosmo|publisher=Stylus magazine|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-07-31] but received favorable reviews from the heavy metal press. Its unusual musical ideas—a synthesis of death,cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad - Heavy As a Really Heavy Thing : Review|author=Filcetti, Gino|publisher=Chronicles of Chaos|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=1995-01-10] thrash,cite web|title=Review: Strapping Young Lad: Heavy As a Really Heavy Thing (remaster)|author=Pardo, Pete|publisher=Sea of Tranquility|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-09-18] and industrial metal influences—prompted Andy Stout from "Metal Hammer" to call it "one of the most disturbing albums you'll hear for a very long time". [Stout, Andy. "Strapping Young Lad - Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing." "Metal Hammer". April 1997.] Nevertheless, Townsend has repeatedly expressed his distaste for the recording. He dismissed the album in the liner notes of the record's 2006 reissue, contending that it contained only two great songs. He also deemed its production poor in interviews,cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad - Interview with Devin Townsend|author=Vasilakos, Konstantinos|publisher=MetalEagle Online magazine|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|year=2006] referring to the album as "basically a collectionof demos that were remixed". When Century Media advertised the reissue of "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing" as the "rebirth of a genre-defying classic", Townsend called it "record company bullshit".

Townsend recruited a permanent line-up for the second album: Jed Simon on guitar, Byron Stroud on bass, and Gene Hoglan on drums. "City" was released on February 11, 1997 and received highly favorable critical reception. "Kerrang!" praised the album for its heaviness, claiming it sounded like "sticking your head into the jet nozzle of a Stealth Bomber", [Sheils, Liam. "Strapping Young Lad - City". "Kerrang!". February 1, 1997, Iss. 633.] while "Metal Hammer" ranked it #13 on its "Top 20 Albums of 1997" list. ["Top 20 Albums of 1997". "Metal Hammer". December 1997.] The album soon gained a cult following and a loyal fan base for the band. "City" is considered to be the band's best effort by a large number of fanscite web|title=Interview with Jed Simon|author=Rademacher, Brian|publisher=Rock Eyez Webzine|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-08-11] and critics alike. [cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad - The New Black review|author=Bergman, Keith||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad: Alien review|author=Begrand, Adrien|publisher=PopMatters|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-03-25] In 2002, the album was #45 on "Revolver" magazine's "69 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time" list, ["The 69 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". "Revolver". 2002, September/October.] and also appeared on their "Must Have Metal Albums" list in 2005.cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad: ALIEN CD Release||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-03-23] It also appeared on the "100 Most Important Albums of the Nineties" list conducted by "Terrorizer". ["100 Most Important Albums of the Nineties". "Terrorizer". February 2000, Iss. 75.] Townsend himself stated "City" "is the real Strapping record. That's the ultimate one out of all of them". [cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad Are All Rocked Out|publisher="Exclaim!"|url=|accessdate=2008-04-28|month=July | year=2006]

The band embarked on a world tour in 1997 to promote the album, which included dates in Europe, the US and Australia. On May 30, 1998 they performed at the Dynamo Open Air festival in Eindhoven, Netherlands, then continued touring the next month in Europe. In June 1998, the group released "No Sleep 'till Bedtime", a live album containing songs performed at a 1997 performance at the HiFi Bar and Ballroom in Melbourne, Australia. Century Media was not initially interested in releasing a live record, but impressed with Townsend's production, the label agreed to release it. [Vance, Neil. "The Tape Ran Out." "Buzz" magazine. October 1998.] The band closed the year playing a few more dates in Japan and Australia.

On hiatus (1999–2002)

At the end of 1998, Townsend placed Strapping Young Lad on hiatus to concentrate on his solo career and on his work as a record producer. He had already released two solo albums, "" in 1997 and "Infinity" in 1998 and produced several other artists' albums. [cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad Official Biography|publisher=Century Media|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] Townsend explained that numerous conflicts with Century Media, and his struggle with bipolar disorder (for which he checked himself into a psychiatric hospital in early 1998), contributed to the curtailment of Strapping Young Lad's activities: [cite web|title=The Reluctant Return of Strapping Young Lad|author=Gramlich, Chris|publisher="Exclaim!"|url=|accessdate=2008-04-28|month=February | year=2003]

What happened? I signed a shitty deal, but luckily it was non-exclusive. I got tired of doing Strapping so I said, 'I can't do it anymore.' Then I freaked out and went into a hospital. My lawyer said that I was under mental duress when I signed the contract so the contract is void. At that point it was like, 'I just won't do another Strapping record.' Yeah, I went down saying 'CM was the shittiest label ever.' And they went down as saying that I was 'a complete, arrogant psychopath.'

Townsend remained productive between 1999 and 2002, recording two more solo albums, "Physicist" in 2000 and "Terria" in 2001, and producing albums for Zimmers Hole, Stuck Mojo and Soilwork, among others. Although Strapping Young Lad was officially on hiatus, they gave occasional live performances, including an appearance on the Foot In Mouth Tour in 2001 with Fear Factory. During this period, Townsend's bandmates were active musically; both Stroud and Hoglan recorded with other bands, and all three were involved in Townsend's solo efforts as studio musicians and as part of his live band as well. Hoglan and Simon also formed a side project called Tenet with Grip Inc. bassist Stuart Carruthers and Interzone frontman Rob Urbinati in early 2002.

In December 2001 Townsend announced that, contrary to his earlier public statements, a new Strapping Young Lad album would be released in 2002. He emphasized that he was not "forcing" his product upon fans to generate record sales, arguing that his band—and its contract with Century—was never a lucrative endeavor. Instead, Townsend's motivation was the "creative anger" sparked by the September 11, 2001 attacks and further cultivated during their 2001 tour. [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad To Record New Album!||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2001-12-21] For the first time, the album would be a product of collaborative writing; the band wrote "about half" of the material on the 2001 Foot In Mouth Tour, and the rest at home, starting January 2002.cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad Axeman Rocks Out On Three Fronts||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2002-01-23] [cite web|title=The World Makes Way - CoC interviews Gene Hoglan of Strapping Young Lad|publisher=Chronicles of Chaos|author=McKay, Aaron|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2003-06-12] After playing a small number of festivals in 2002, Strapping Young Lad entered the studio in September of that year, to record their third album. [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad Enter Studio To Record Third CD||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2002-09-16]

"Strapping Young Lad" and "Alien" (2003–2005)

The self-titled "Strapping Young Lad" was released on February 11, 2003, and became the band's first charting album, entering "Billboard"'s Top Heatseekers at #97. [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad Enter Billboard Heatskeekers Chart||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2003-02-20] The album received moderate critical success, Nate Smith from called it a "solid addition to the Townsend catalog", but "not an instant classic", [cite web|title=CD Reviews: Strapping Young Lad - SYL||author=Smith, Nate|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|year=2003] Xander Hoose from Chronicles of Chaos called it "a good album", but also pointed out that it is inferior to "City". [cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad - SYL : Review|publisher=Chronicles of Chaos|author=Hoose, Xander|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2003-04-16] "Strapping Young Lad" differed from "City" in that it was less industrialcite web|title=Interview with Strapping Young Lad|publisher=Chain D.L.K.|author=Hamilton, Shaun|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2003-03-20] and more reminiscent of death metal; [cite web|title=SYL Review|publisher=Allmusic|author=Hinds, Andy|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] the humor pervading the previous two albums became more subdued. [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad: Tales Of Insecurity And Fear||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2003-01-16]

The band toured heavily throughout 2003 and 2004, making stops in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia. Although Townsend stated that "Strapping Young Lad" might be the last album, [cite web|title=Interview with Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad||author=Brookman, Ty|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2003-02-10] the band re-signed with Century Media Worldwide in March 2004 and announced plans for a new album. [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad Re-Sign With Century Media, Begin Work On New Material||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2004-03-30] On November 2, 2004, Strapping Young Lad released a DVD entitled "", which documented the band's January 16, 2004 performance at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. Bonus features included two music videos, "Relentless" and "Detox", and interviews with band members.

"Alien" was released on March 22, 2005, selling 3,697 copies in its first week. [cite news|title=Soundscan Report: Queens Of The Stone Age, Ozzy Osbourne, Strapping Young Lad||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-03-30] It reached #32 on the "Billboard" Top Heatseekers chart, and #35 on the Top Independent Albums chart.cite web|title=Artist Chart History - Strapping Young Lad|publisher="Billboard"|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] Critics praised Townsend's inventiveness and the dynamism of the songs in which "melody and discord meet midway";cite web|title=Alien Review|publisher=Allmusic|author=Rivadavia, Eduardo|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] [cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad - Alien|publisher="Cleveland Scene"|author=Miller, Andrew|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-04-13] Adrien Begrand of PopMatters wrote that "Strapping Young Lad have raised the bar yet again", while's Krista G. called it one of the best albums of the year. [cite web|title=Alien Review||author=G., Krista|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] Townsend and Hoglan were the primary writers of the album, since Simon and Stroud were busy with other commitments.cite web|title=Interview: Strapping Young Lad: An extreme metal all-star squad|publisher="In Music We Trust"|author=SOS, Mike|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|month=August | year=2005] To prepare for the recording of "Alien", Townsend had stopped taking the medication prescribed to treat his bipolar disorder; [S. Johnson, Alex. "Tales of extraordinary madness." "Zero Tolerance" magazine. December 30, 2004, Iss. 003.] he explained that the experimental noise track "Info Dump" is a reflection on the panicked state of mind that then ensued. [cite web|title=Interview w/ Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad|publisher=Los Angeles Loud|author=Powell, Brett|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|year=2005] The making of "Alien" was documented and made viewable online on Century Media's official site in February 2005. It was also available as a bonus DVD of the limited first edition of the album.

filename= Strapping Young Lad - Love.ogg
title="Love?" (2005)
description="Love?" became one of the band's most well-known songs among heavy metal fans. Allmusic described its chorused harmonies as "King's X from hell".
"Love?" was chosen as the sole single from the album. Its accompanying music video, inspired by the cult horror film, "The Evil Dead", was directed by Joe Lynch.cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad interview||author=Magers, Adrian|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-04-07] The video garnered the band wider attention, and helped "Love?" became one of their most recognizable songs. [cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad - Alien Review|publisher=Music Emissions|author=Sellers, Kevin|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2007-08-12] Jed Simon admitted to having produced a video for this particular song because it had "the most commercial potential". "Love?" was originally one of two confirmed songs for an EP that was supposed to contain four new songs and four covers. Although planned for release in 2003, the EP was eventually canceled. [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad To Release New EP||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2003-07-09]

The band embarked on a headlining tour in the United States in April and May 2005, then went on to tour in Europe. Starting at the end of June, they toured North America as part of the Sounds of the Underground tour, then joined Fear Factory on the Transgression Tour in the U.S. Throughout the tour, Fear Factory bassist Stroud performed with both bands at every concert. Strapping Young Lad concluded the year with a tour in the UK. While on tour, the band started writing the next album, [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad Begin Writing Material For New Album||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-11-23] then continued the work in January 2006, [cite web|title=Interviews - Strapping Young Lad - Gene Hoglan||author=Antunovich, Tony|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-12-05] and finished the album by May. [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad: 'The New Black' Release Date Confirmed||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-05-13] In the same month, Townsend announced his intention to "take a hiatus from making records for a while" after the end of touring due to exhaustion from continuous recording and producing for the past ten years. [cite news|title=Metal File: Strapping Young Lad, Gorgoroth, Napalm Death & More News That Rules|publisher=MTV|author=Harris, Chris; Wiederhorn, Jon|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-05-26]

"The New Black", and dissolution (2006–2007)

"The New Black", Strapping Young Lad's fifth and final studio album, was released on July 11, 2006. Century Media imposed a strict deadline on the release date of the album; it was to be ready before the 2006 Ozzfest festival. Despite this, Townsend stated the recording was not rushed,cite web|title=Devin Townsend Feature Interview||author=Donnelly, Justin|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] and "The New Black" became a critical, as well as a commercial, success. It was more melodic than any of the band's previous albums and brought back the debut album's tongue-in-cheek humor. Having sold more than 4,000 copies during its first week, "The New Black" reached #200 on the "Billboard" 200 chart, [cite news|title=Thom Yorke's No Match For Chamillionaire, Kelly Clarkson In Billboard Race|publisher=MTV|author=Harris, Chris|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-07-19] #15 on the Top Independent Albums, and #8 on the Top Heatseekers charts. Stylus Magazine's Cosmo Lee described it as "heavy, catchy, and with no filler", and's Chad Bowar was also positive, stating that "this is a CD that's dense and heavy, but also has some memorable hooks". [cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad - The New Black Review||author=Bowar, Chad|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|year=2006]

A music video was shot in late May to accompany the sole single from the album, "Wrong Side". [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad To Film 'Wrong Side' Video; Extras Needed||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-05-24] In June 2006 Strapping Young Lad embarked on a short festival tour of Europe, including performances at the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festivals in Germany and the Download Festival in England, which was followed by a second stage appearance at Ozzfest in July and August, where they played to some of their largest audiences in their career.

In an interview conducted by "Terrorizer" in August 2006, Townsend explained why he decided to put the band on hold: ["Terrorizer". August 17, 2006, Vol. 147.]

At the end of the day, man, I'm just tired, and old, and bald, and fat, and grouchy, and bored. You know? So I was just like, I'm going to make this record, and do this stupid Ozzfest thing, and tell a bunch of stupid jokes in front of a lot of people at Download, then I'm just going to fuck off for a while. The bigger this gets, the less I care, to the point where I just need to go spend some time with my family. I don't wanna bastardise Strapping and all these other projects by doing it for the money. Strapping was about the big middle finger, and it still is, but I don't think it needs to go any further than this.
Although Hoglan initially denied the definitive break-up of the band, saying they would go on tour in March 2007, [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad Drummer Outlines Band's Future Plans||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-07-25] he later stated Strapping Young Lad is on "extended hiatus", and might never reunite again. [cite news|title=Gene Hoglan: Strapping Young Lad Is On 'Extended Hiatus'||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-11-01] In May 2007, during a press conference held to promote his new solo album, "Ziltoid the Omniscient", Townsend announced his plans to retreat from public view, including giving interviews and touring, to concentrate on his family, and producing solo albums, as well as other people's music. [cite news|title=Devin Townsend Says Strapping Young Lad Is Over For Good||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2007-05-11] As a result, Strapping Young Lad were effectively disbanded. Townsend discussed his future projects in a May 2007 "Metal Hammer" interview, where he stated that "there may be some stuff I do in the future that is as brutal and heavy as Strapping, it's just not going to be Strapping". [cite news|title=Why no more Strapping Young Lad?|publisher="Metal Hammer"|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2007-05-22]

The remastered 10th anniversary edition of "City" was released on June 7, 2007 in similar vein to the 2006 remaster of "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing", with bonus tracks and extended liner notes by Townsend. A career spanning best of album, entitled "1994–2006 Chaos Years", was released on March 31, 2008, with a bonus DVD of live performances and all of the band's music videos.

Musical style

Strapping Young Lad's music was a diverse mix of extreme metal genres; death metal, thrash metal, black metal [cite web|title=Alien review|publisher="Decibel" magazine|author=Terry, Nick|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] and industrial metal. Many of the band's songs showcased Townsend's versatile vocal style, often changing from screaming, and growling to clean vocals, [cite web|title=The New Black Review|publisher=Allmusic|author=La Gorce, Tammy|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] or even falsetto, [cite web|title=Strap on for a fun ride with Lad|publisher="Michigan Daily"|author=Rosli, Adlin|url=|date=1998-08-03|accessdate=2008-01-31] within the course of a single song. According to Townsend, the band functioned as his "outlet to freak out", and his two main projects, the more melodic The Devin Townsend Band and the aggressive Strapping Young Lad were "supposed to be the positive and the negative". [cite web|title=Interview with Devin Townsend||author=Hawkins, Chris|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] To achieve a chaotic and cacophonic sound the band utilized complex time signatures, [cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad|publisher="Houston Press"|author=Smith, Chris|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2003-01-16] polyrhythmic composition, blast beats, sampling, keyboard effects and intricately layered production. Townsend used the newest technology available, such as Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase and Logic Pro, when recording, mixing and producing the band's songs. [cite web|title=Interview with Devin Townsend|publisher="RevelationZ Magazine"|author=Kolman, Tajs|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-01-27] As a self-proclaimed "fan of multitracking", he created an atmospheric, layered "wall of sound", which became a hallmark of the band's production stylecite web|title=The Devin Townsend Band - Synchestra|publisher="Cleveland Scene"|author=Lay, David|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-02-08] (with the exception of their self-titled album which featured no samples, or vocal layering). [cite web|title=Interview with Gene Hoglan|publisher="Enslain" magazine|author=Gulczynski, Chrissy|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] Townsend's musical ideas and production style have drawn comparisons to Phil Spector and Frank Zappa. Strapping Young Lad mostly eschewed guitar solos until "The New Black", which featured a more heightened emphasis on melody than their previous albums. [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad Complete Work On New Album|publisher=KNAC|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-04-07]


Strapping Young Lad drew influence from a wide range of music genres, most prominently, but not exclusively, heavy metal. Townsend cited, amongst others, Judas Priest, Jane's Addiction, Zoviet France, Grotus, and Frank Zappa as his influences, and also expressed his admiration for Meshuggah on several occasions, calling it "the best metal band on the planet".cite web|title=The New Raging Bull! - Strapping Young Lad|publisher="Guitar Player"|author=Jones, H. Deirdre|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|month=November | year=2006] Simon and Stroud listed classic hard rock bands, like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Kiss, and old school thrash and death metal bands, like Exodus, Slayer and Morbid Angel among their influences, [cite web|title=Interview With Jed Simon|publisher=Metal Realm|author=B., John|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2007-04-20] [cite web|title=Interview with Byron Stroud of Strapping Young Lad||author=Thompson, Katrina|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-07-10] while Hoglan's influences range wildly in style from Stevie Wonder to progressive rock drummers like Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio and Nick Mason. [cite web|title=Gene Hoglan interview||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-09-23] Townsend stated his main influences for "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing" were Napalm Death and Fear Factory, [cite web|title=Devin Townsend interview|publisher=Khaos of Grind|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31] "City" was influenced by bands such as Foetus and White Noise, and "The New Black"'s influences were Meshuggah, and "more traditional metal" like Metallica. [cite web|title=Interview with: Devin Townsend from Strapping Young Lad and The Devin Townsend Band||author=Povarchik, Roy; Vayner, Ofer|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-07-20]

Lyrical themes

filename= Strapping Young Lad - Far Beyond Metal.ogg
title="Far Beyond Metal" (2006)
description="Far Beyond Metal" from "The New Black" is a parody of traditional heavy metal. The song had been in the band's live repertoire since 1997, with lyrics changing practically every performance.
Townsend was the band's primary songwriter. While the first two albums were solely his work, subsequent albums featured a minority of "riffs, lyrical ideas, and song titles" by his band mates. [cite web|title=Interview with Gene Hoglan of Strapping Young Lad||author=Hawkins, Chris|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31]

Despite the brutality of Strapping Young Lad's music, their songs contain hints of tongue-in-cheek humor and self-parody. Frequently, Townsend's lyrics approached serious personal or political issues with a morbid sense of humor. He has likened the band's sense of silliness to that of "Weird Al" Yankovic. Townsend's lyrical influences covered a wide range of themes, including warfare,cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad interview|author=Justin|publisher=Metal Storm|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2003-02-10] mathematical theorems, [cite web|title=Devin Townsend interview||author=Yakimow, Dan; Mitchell, Jay|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|year=2005] and movies.cite web|title=Interview With Gene Hoglan||author=Cowie, Sean|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-06-16] He also used the technique of cross-referencing, repeating lines from his own works, such as older Strapping Young Lad, or solo material.

Live performances

Strapping Young Lad was known for its energetic live performances, mostly owing to the eccentric appearance and persona of Devin Townsend. [cite web|title=Coroner's Report: Black, Death, Thrash, Metalcore, Grindcore|publisher=KNAC|author=Atkinson, Peter|url=|date=2005-05-02|accessdate=2007-12-25] [cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad|publisher="Decibel" magazine|author=Stewart-Panko, Kevin|url=|month=April | year=2005|accessdate=2007-12-25] Adrian Begrand of PopMatters wrote that "nobody in metal today has the same kind of commanding stage presence as the self-professed Bald Bastard, Devin Townsend", and called Strapping Young Lad "one of the best live bands around".cite web|title=Strapping Young Lad: The New Black review|publisher=PopMatters|author=Begrand, Adrien|url=|date=2006-08-28|accessdate=2007-12-25] Townsend was famous for his on-stage antics; he integrated his ironic and tongue-in-cheek humor into live shows and interacted heavily with the audience. He would deliver comical, and often insulting remarks to them, [cite web|title=Fear Factory/Strapping Young Lad/Soilwork/Darkane Live In Vancouver: December 5, 2005||url=|date=2006-01-06|accessdate=2008-01-31] organize circle pits, and parody heavy metal clichés as well as the genre itself. [cite web|title=Three-Finger Dio Salutes for Everybody! - Strapping Young Lad with Malevolence and Camel Clutch, live review|publisher="Drop-D" magazine|author=Gawle, Darren|url=|date=1997-04-19|accessdate=2008-01-31]

The band's humorous approach was also evidenced by a song frequently performed live from 1997, entitled "Far Beyond Metal", a parody of classic heavy metal. It became a live staple and a fan favorite, with lyrics changing practically every performance. Although it was recorded live on "No Sleep 'till Bedtime", and on the "For Those Aboot to Rock" DVD, a studio version was not recorded until 2006 during "The New Black" sessions. The band was also sarcastic about their own Canadian heritage, they used "Blame Canada", a comedic anti-Canada song from "" as intro music at many concerts in 2003 and 2004. [cite web|title=Concert Reviews - Strapping Young Lad, Daysend and Tourettes||author=Truong, Kev|url=|year=2003|accessdate=2008-01-31] [cite web|title=Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews||url=|year=2004|accessdate=2008-01-31]

For a period of time, Strapping Young Lad also played Townsend's solo material live. In 1998, after the release of "Infinity", they began performing both Strapping Young Lad and Townsend's solo songs, as two separate sets. It was not until the 2003 release of "Accelerated Evolution" that Townsend formed a separate band, called The Devin Townsend Band, to act as his full-fledged solo band. [cite web|title=The Devin Townsend Band Biography|publisher=Hevydevy Records|url=|accessdate=2008-01-31]


*1995: "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing"
*1997: "City"
*2003: " Strapping Young Lad"
*2005: "Alien"
*2006: "The New Black"

Band members

*Devin Townsendguitar, lead vocals, keyboards (studio only)
*Jed Simon – guitar, backing vocals
*Byron Stroudbass, backing vocals
*Gene Hoglandrums

Former members

All former members are the musicians playing on "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing" besides Townsend and Simon:
*Adrian White – drums
*Chris Bayes – drums
*Smokin' Lord Toot – drums
*Chris Meyers – keyboardsNote: The pre-"City" touring line-up consisted of Townsend, Simon, White, and Meyers.

Touring members

*John Morgan – keyboards (1997)
*Matteo Caratozzolo – keyboards (1997–1998, 2003)
*Jamie Meyer – keyboards (1998–1999)
*Jason Filipchuk – keyboards (1999)
*Chris Valagao – keyboards (2002)
*Will Campagna – keyboards (2002, 2005–2006)
*Munesh Sami – keyboards (2003–2004)
*Jon Miller – bass (substituting Byron Stroud, July 14–31, 2005) [cite news|title=Strapping Young Lad: Byron Stroud Temporarily Replaced By DevilDriver Bassist||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2005-07-07]
*James MacDonough – bass (substituting Byron Stroud, August 1–13, 2006) [cite news|title=Former Megadeth Bassist MacDonough To Tour With Strapping Young Lad||url=|accessdate=2008-01-31|date=2006-07-25]


External links

* [ Official site]
*MySpace|strappingyounglad|Strapping Young Lad
*AMG Artist|sql=11:3ifexq9hldke~T1|artist=Strapping Young Lad

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