Devin Townsend returns with a gloom-riddled aural assault of noise metal that defies description. Having not seen nor heard any material from Townsend since he toured with Steve Vai nearly a decade ago, I was not really sure what to expect. Combining elements of black, death, thrash and power metal, SYL sounds like a amalgam of Kreator, Pantera, Ripper Owens era Judas Priest and Bathory. Based on the events of 9/11/2001, SYL engulfs the listener in a blackened cloak of rage and hate.
Townsend’s vocals range from clean, to extremely aggressive, to insane black metal screams. The drums provided by Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Testament, Death) on this release threatened to blow out my speakers with their double bass insanity. The bass riffs of Byron Stroud are meant to mimic a migraine headache and certainly accomplish what they are intended to do.
A strange occurrence within the insanity is the brief sound of crickets during a fleeting second of silence on “Dirt Pride”. This miniscule moment makes you really stop and think about the horrific nature of the overall material. Townsend describes SYL as “War Music”. He certainly has the recipe for destruction within the context of this release.