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The mad scientist and his able cohorts are back, and the bunch have cooked up some new treats in the form of SYL. But how does one top that which is over-the-top? Unfortunately, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD fail to answer that question with SYL. SYL isn’t quite the melodic yet deafening sonic assault, that was 1997’s City album. While the basis of the band’s sound is still intact, this time around however, the production is thick and up front resulting in an uncharacteristic guitar-heavy sound. Abundant is the fat guitar/drum syncopation, a la FEAR FACTORY, but absent are the gorgeous keyboards that, along with Devin Townsend’s trademark melodic vocal shrieks, really helped set STRAPPING YOUNG LAD apart from the slew of other extreme metal bands. While SYL isn’t a disaster, it sure is a disappointment (perhaps partially due to a songwriting contributions from the “other” band members). Fortunately, Mr. Townsend has his expectation-free DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND project where he can fully assume his role of songwriting god. (Century Media)