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 endeavour. Instead, Townsend's motivation was the "creative anger" sparked by the September 11, 2001 attacks and further cultivated during their 2001 tour. 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. 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.
Strapping Young Lad was released on February 11, 2003, and became the band's first charting album, entering Billboard's Top Heatseekers at No. 97. The album received moderate critical success. Nate Smith from Rockzone.com called it a "solid addition to the Townsend catalog", but "not an instant classic". Xander Hoose from Chronicles of Chaos called it "a good album", but said that it is inferior to City. Alec A. Head of Satan Stole My Teddybear wasn't impressed, writing, "Sadly, the songwriting putters out into a flaccid, heartless, faux-epic quagmire of riffs that have no destination, vocals that lack the ferocity and pure, unadulterated anger and emotion that Townsend exhibited on City, and an altogether forced, cold, and directionless sense of songwriting."Strapping Young Lad differed from Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing and City in that it was less industrial and more reminiscent of death metal; the humour pervading the previous two albums became more subdued.
Glenn Thomson, Denton Booth, Charlie Goler, Juanita English, Jeremy Glen, Blackie LeBlanc, Henry Goler, Jay Mosdell, Samanta Palomino, Eden Wagonner, Christ Stanley, Scarlet Stanley, Stuart Carruthers, Sue Carruthers, Sean Carruthers, Denis, Stevie J., La Sparka, Rossy Living, Dev, Jed and Byron.