HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Strapping Young Lad - The New Black
(Century Media)

Opener Decimator points to a kinder, gentler, more prog-sublime SYL, but once the shock sets in, You Suck takes it all back in a flurry of efficient death metal blasting and trademark self-deprecating lyrics. Then Strapping swing back and forth between their slightly Zappa-esque melodic chicanery that started for Dev way back on Vai's Sex & Religion album, and geometry with hard and heartless instruments. And they can be loopy fast or loopy slow, I'd say much more so than on either of the last two albums, The New Black almost finding Zimmershole (Zimmers Hole? Zimmer's Hole) terrain, namely Byron and Jed in send-up mode. Best track is saved for deep in the sequence, Almost Again combining butt-shaking hair metal funkiness with scorching guitars, Dev's roaring Robin Zander vocals, and a whole bunch of swearing and sweating. All told though, this is a pretty experimental album, not nearly as he-man thrash as Alien or SYL, more of a rule-breaker, which is what made City such a proud (and arguably unlistenable) creative moment in the extreme. Only this time, SYL move a little toward the plush, epic weirdness of Dev's otherly projects, blurring that line, still being bloody interesting at what they do, restless for that next frontier, sort of snickering at the idea of doing this for a living.
Rating 8

From Behind - Game Over!
(Lion Music)

From behind pairs a couple of low profile was-beens in a project situation that makes some sense but judging from the results, not much, er, fruit. Singin' is Samson Mammoth belter Nicky Moore, one of the greatest southern rock singers from nowhere near Macon. Oddly, living much closer to Macon, in Dallas to be exact, is guitarist Manny Charlton, a bluesy retro guy of his own sort, having played in the classic Nazareth lineup for more than 20 years before bowing out in '89. And this meeting of from behind minds? Well, what you get is tough, riffy blues metal, much of it pretty good, but hacked by dodgy production, namely not enough bass, ratchety drums, and general flatness. Plus there's too much stylistic diversity here - these guys are best writing heavy riff rock of a '70s nature. I love both of these guys, and there are nice constructs here, but man, I suppose, as these things are wont to be, it's one half timeless and one half dated.
Rating 5

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