Strapping Young Lad was a band formed, defined, and led by Devin Townsend between 1994 and 2007 (with a break between 1999 and 2002). It is a band that released exactly five studio albums. It is a band that has not performed live in more than a decade. And it is a band that Devin Townsend cannot escape: Despite the fact that he has released 18 studio albums under his own name, of which exactly zero sound like Strapping Young Lad, Townsend's work is consistently contextualized by its relationship to the work done by Strapping Young Lad. (Example: This very post!)
And while these are the expected trials of an artist who made his name initially in the tribal-loyalist world of heavy metal, they are trials that Townsend also seems utterly unconcerned with. In the same way that he initially firebombed genre norms with his early work by creating heavy metal that was nervously intense, densely chaotic, and supremely thematically challenging, he has continued his post-SYL journey by completely ignoring any expectations that anyone may have for his music. Comparisons to Frank Zappa are frequently thrown around, and they're not completely off the mark, due to Townsend's willingness – eagerness, actually – to indulge his creative curiosity by fucking with sounds with which he may not be expected to fuck. Progressive rock, Americana, ambient, blues rock, noise, melodic rock ... anything is fair game to Townsend, and none of it ever sounds like it's supposed to, and it also never sounds anything like the redlined wall of sound he crafted with SYL.
Currently, he's touring in support of the seventh (!) album by the Devin Townsend Project, Transcendence
, which we haven't heard, so can't really tell you what to expect, but ... hell, even if we had heard it, we couldn't tell you what to expect. It's Devin Townsend. All we know is that it won't
sound like Strapping Young Lad. And that it will be great.
The Devin Townsend Project plays the Plaza Live on Sunday, Sept. 11.