Containing elements of death metal, thrash metal, black metal, progressive metal and industrial metal, Strapping Young Lad's music was characterized by the use of complex time signatures, polyrhythmic guitar riffing and drumming, blast beats and Wall of Sound production. The band's musical direction was mainly determined by Townsend, whose battle with bipolar disorder and dark sense of humour were major influences on his songwriting. Townsend was also noted for his eccentric appearance and on-stage behaviour, which greatly contributed to the band's intense live performances.
The band gained critical success and a growing underground fan base from their 1997 album City. After a hiatus between 1999 and 2002, the band released three more albums, reaching their commercial peak with the 2006 effort, The New Black. Townsend disbanded Strapping Young Lad in May 2007, announcing his decision to retreat from public view while continuing to record solo albums.
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