Alien (Strapping Young Lad album)

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Alien
Strappingyoungladalien.jpg
Studio album by Strapping Young Lad
Released March 22, 2005 (2005-03-22)
Recorded 2004 at The Armoury, Vancouver
Genre Extreme metal, industrial metal,[1] thrash metal,[1] black metal[1]
Length 54:45
Label Hevy Devy, Century Media
Producer Devin Townsend, Strapping Young Lad
Strapping Young Lad chronology
Strapping Young Lad
(2003)
Alien
(2005)
The New Black
(2006)
Devin Townsend chronology
Devlab
(2004)
Alien
(2005)
Synchestra
(2006)

Alien is the fourth studio album by Canadian extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad. It was released on March 22, 2005. The album was written by Devin Townsend and Gene Hoglan over a six-month time period.

The album reached No. 32 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and No. 35 on the Top Independent Albums chart. "Love?" became the album's single and had a music video which aired on Headbanger's Ball. The video (a tribute to the movie The Evil Dead) depicts the band performing in a haunted cabin in the woods.

Background[edit]

Townsend and Hoglan were the primary writers of the album, since Simon and Stroud were busy with other commitments.[2] To prepare for the recording of Alien, Townsend had stopped taking the medication prescribed to treat his bipolar disorder.[3] Townsend has stated that the easiest track to record for the album was "Zen", and the most difficult track to record, "Skeksis", was also his favourite.[4] 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. The band recorded a cover of Tom Jones's "What's New Pussycat?" that was scheduled to appear on Alien, but it was not recorded entirely because "it did not fit the flow" of the album. The song is not expected to be released anytime, even though Blabbermouth.net has reported so.[5]

Due to some kind of error, the unmastered promotional release of Alien (and subsequently the early leaks of the album on the internet) contained the longer version of "Love?" and a version of "We Ride" which had most of the guitar solos missing. Also, on this promo release the track "Thalamus" was credited as being called "Landscape".[6][7] Previous to the promotional release, press releases credited "Thalamus" as being called "Mega Bulldozer".[8]

The voice heard during the intro to the song "Two Weeks" belongs to a British mathematician Andrew Wiles.[9] Wiles was interviewed for an episode of the BBC documentary series Horizon[10] that focused on Fermat's Last Theorem.

Song information[edit]

"Love?"[edit]

"Love?" was chosen as the sole single from the album. Townsend has stated that the chorus was "ripped off" from the song "City of Love" by the band Yes.[11] Townsend added, "I met Jon Anderson at one point and told him. He seemed to find it funny."[12] Allmusic described the song's chorused harmonies as "King's X from hell".[13]

Its accompanying music video, inspired by the cult horror film, The Evil Dead, was directed by Joe Lynch.[14] The video garnered the band wider attention, and helped "Love?" become one of their most recognizable songs.[15] Jed Simon admitted to having produced a video for this particular song because it had "the most commercial potential".[16] "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 cancelled.[17]

A second music video was released for the track Zen, which would also later appear in 2007 film Shoot 'Em Up, where Clive Owen's character notices that the Zen music video calms a crying baby.

"Info Dump"[edit]

Townsend explained that the final track "Info Dump", an instrumental noise track, is a reflection on the panicked state of mind that ensued when he stopped taking his medication prescribed to treat his bipolar disorder.[18]

There are pulses of sounds heard in the middle of the track that, in Morse code, translate to the word "om". The rhythm of these sound pulses were later used to create the rhythm used at the end of "Colour Your World" on Townsend's album Ziltoid the Omniscient.

In a retrospective point of view, Townsend said that the track was "basically structured noise containing a morse code for a math equation," and that during the recording of the album he watched a television program about mathematician Andrew Wiles about his solving of Fermat’s Last Theorem. "[It was] a problem thought previously insolvable with a very elegant solution: X2 + Y2 = Z². Although I’m far from a mathematician, I enjoyed the thought that two opposing ways of thinking could be linked by a simple equation. I was just struck with that during the Alien time, and it just so happens that ‘Ziltoid 2’, ‘Z²’, is an answer for me—of how to proceed. It just seems to tie up everything, including Strapping, in a way that I think is satisfying."[19]

Release and reception[edit]

Alien was released on March 22, 2005, selling 3,697 copies in its first week.[20] It reached No. 32 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart, and No. 35 on the Top Independent Albums chart.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic4/5 stars[13]

Critics praised Townsend's inventiveness and the dynamism of the songs in which "melody and discord meet midway";[13][22] Adrien Begrand of PopMatters wrote "Strapping Young Lad have raised the bar yet again",[23] while Blabbermouth.net's Krista G. called it one of the best albums of the year.[24] Townsend himself has gone on to state that "Alien" is the Strapping album that he's "most proud of". [25]

Public reception[edit]

Alien was well received by the public. On Rate Your Music the album has an average rating of 3.73 of 5, based on more than 1,750 ratings,[26] and on Sputnikmusic the album has an "excellent" average rating of 4.1 of 5, based on more than 800 ratings.[27]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Devin Townsend; all music composed by Strapping Young Lad.

No.TitleLength
1."Imperial"2:17
2."Skeksis"6:42
3."Shitstorm"4:22
4."Love?"4:53
5."Shine"5:13
6."We Ride"2:37
7."Possessions"4:12
8."Two Weeks"3:28
9."Thalamus"3:58
10."Zen"5:02
11."Info Dump"11:56
Total length:54:45
Japanese edition
No.TitleLength
12."Zodiac" (Melvins cover)3:59
13."Love?" (Extended version)5:43
14."In the Rainy Season" (Live)5:29
Australian edition
No.TitleLength
12."Aftermath" (Live)7:11
Korean edition
No.TitleLength
12."Force Fed" (Live)5:42

Personnel[edit]

Strapping Young Lad[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Dave Young – keyboards, vocals
  • Will Campagna – live keyboards

Male vocal choir[edit]

Chris Valagao, Rossy Living, Cam Krotche, Will Campagna, Shane Clark, Ross Gale, Christ Stanley, Will Cochrane, Ash Manning, Ross Empson, Mike Quigley, Billy Marquardt and Jeff Cook.

Female vocal choir[edit]

Laurielynn Bridger, Marnie Mains, Ani Kyd, Tammy "Tamz" Theis, Magdalena Bulak, Shay Ward, Steph Reid, Deborah Rodrigo-Tyzio, Michelle Madden, and Joanna Ussner.

Children vocals[edit]

Dorian Glaude-Living, Damian Moore, Ethan Belcourt-Lowe and Jayden Gignac.

Production[edit]

  • Shaun Thingvold – engineering, mixing
  • Kristina Ardron – 2nd engineering, editing
  • Ryan Van Poederooyen – drum technician
  • Alex Aligizakis – editing
  • Scott Cooke – editing
  • Bryan Seely – editing, assistant
  • Rob Stefanson – assistant
  • Alan Wong Moon – assistant
  • Greg Reely – mastering at Green Jacket Studios
  • Travis Smith – art consultant
  • Per Johansson – artwork, layout design
  • Omer "Impson" R. Cordell – photography

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Terry, Nick. "Alien review". Decibel magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-05-06. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ SOS, Mike (August 2005). "Interview: Strapping Young Lad: An extreme metal all-star squad". In Music We Trust. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ S. Johnson, Alex. "Tales of extraordinary madness." Zero Tolerance magazine. December 30, 2004. Iss. 003.
  4. ^ Mike SOS. "In Music We Trust - INTERVIEW: Strapping Young Lad: An extreme metal all-star squad". Retrieved December 28, 2013. 
  5. ^ Strapping Young Lad Confirmed For New England Metal And Hardcore Festival
  6. ^ Hevydevy forums - Love (extended version)
  7. ^ Hevydevy Forums - Differences between Aliens
  8. ^ Strapping Young Lad Finalize Track Listing For 'Alien'
  9. ^ Fermat's Last Theorem BBC, Retrieved 26 October 2017
  10. ^ "BBC TWO, Horizon Fermat's Last Theorem". BBC. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  11. ^ http://www.metalsucks.net/2017/11/17/did-machine-head-steal-a-riff-from-strapping-young-lad-robb-flynn-and-devin-townsend-respond/
  12. ^ https://mobile.twitter.com/dvntownsend/status/931584317309952000
  13. ^ a b c Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Alien Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  14. ^ Magers, Adrian (2005-04-07). "Strapping Young Lad interview". Tartareandesire.com. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  15. ^ Sellers, Kevin (2007-08-12). "Strapping Young Lad - Alien Review". Music Emissions. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  16. ^ Rademacher, Brian (2005-08-11). "Interview with Jed Simon". Rock Eyez Webzine. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  17. ^ "Strapping Young Lad To Release New EP". Blabbermouth.net. 2003-07-09. Archived from the original on 16 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  18. ^ Powell, Brett (2005). "Interview w/ Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad". Los Angeles Loud. Archived from the original on October 27, 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  19. ^ http://www.mooeraudio.com/?artists/201507312400.html
  20. ^ "Soundscan Report: Queens Of The Stone Age, Ozzy Osbourne, Strapping Young Lad". Blabbermouth.net. 2005-03-30. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  21. ^ "Artist Chart History - Strapping Young Lad". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  22. ^ Miller, Andrew (2005-04-13). "Strapping Young Lad - Alien". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  23. ^ Begrand, Adrien (2005-03-25). "Strapping Young Lad: Alien review". PopMatters. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  24. ^ G., Krista. "Alien Review". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  25. ^ "Devin Townsend Plays 'Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?'". 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  26. ^ "Alien by Strapping Young Lad (Album, Industrial Metal)". rateyourmusic.com. Sonemic. Retrieved October 4, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Strapping Young Lad - Alien User Opinions". www.sputnikmusic.com. Sputnikmusic. Retrieved October 4, 2015.