Here’s another project from the Strapping Young Lad guys. Essentially guitarist Jed Simon’s baby, the group also consists of SYL members Byron Stroud (bass) and legendary journeyman drummer Gene Hoglan (seriously, how many projects can this man juggle? He’s a machine!), as well as thrash legends Glen Alvelais of Forbidden and Testament fame on guitars and vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza of Legacy and Exodus. Quite the all star line up if I say so myself.

Apparently, Jed has been working on these songs off and on for quite some time, and has stated that Tenet was to be more of a straight forward, hard hitting metal band. I’d say he’s largely achieved this as Sovereign is pretty bare bones and slightly modernized, groove laced thrash, and it’s definitely pretty hard hitting – there are no frills to be found here.

The approach of these 9 tracks is pretty stripped back, with simple, workman-like, yet highly effective riffing from Simon/Alvelais, solid, steady and not too flashy skin pounding from Mean Gene, the signature snarl of Zetro, and a mostly inaudible Byron Stroud bass. The lead guitar work is solid if unspectacular and only really jumps out on the last two tracks, “Watching You Burn” and “Sovereign”. The songs are mostly concise and to the point, with only two eclipsing the 4 minute mark. Tempos range from the mid paced monster groove of tracks like “Unnameable”, the tough as nails “Watching You Burn” and the closing title track, to more furious and thrashing beasts such as the album opening “Being and Nothingness”, the blast filled “Indulge Me”, portions of “Crown of Thorns”, “Take a Long Line” and “Hail! Hail!”, but then there’s also the slow, creeping heaviness of “Going Down” to switch things up a bit in the middle/second half.

The albums biggest downfall is the songs tend to blur together somewhat, causing attention to drift a bit – individually, they’re all pretty solid even if there are no real standouts among them, but together tend to be a little too samey. This could partially be blamed on the extra fuzzy mess of distortion, but then again, a clean and clear production would have castrated and sucked the charm right out of it, leaving the whole thing feeling flat.

In the end, Sovereign is an extremely sold release, but can probably be passed on by most considering the wealth of great releases 2009 has seen thus far. Though if you’re a devout follower of all things SYL (such as myself) or Zetro, this is yet another fine addition to their collective catalog – it should be worth a spin every now and again.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
August 27th, 2009


  1. Commented by: Mark

    I can’t wait to get this album, so reminds me of Impact is Imminent era. which I loved that album.

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