After five years of total silence, this Danish act returns with not just an album, but an opus. "After the Devastation" is a much different animal than the "Suicide Bombers" EP of last year (reviewed here). Several tracks from this EP do appear on the album but in different form. Therefore, we'll stick to covering the album-only ones.

"Back in Control" is one of the most personal songs that Claus Larsen has ever done. It may overwhelm some people with it's openness and honesty. No one, and I mean NO ONE could do a song like this except Leæther Strip. "A Boy" is very powerful and unfortunately, more timely than ever. This happens more than people would like to admit, and it feels almost autobiographical when you have listened to it a few times.

"Dying Is Easy - Life Is Harder" slows the tempo down and I personally like it, but the words do cross the line for me; they show too much of Larsen. I like for there to be some kind of mystery to the bands I listen to and this... well this one might have been best left a bit more ambiguous. "Slam" sounds like a song from side project Klute but it does fit in the context of the album, whereas "Happy Pills" kicks serious ass and throttles the listener. "Inner Exploration" closes off the first disc and is a truly incredible song. It's Leæther Strip as I like him best: cinematic, textural, epic and dark, dark DARK.

Disc two opens with "Gaza Strip" and contains an updated version of old single "Carry Me" that I'm still on the fence about. The original was just so good, I don't think it can be improved on. We'll see how it grows on me as time passes. "Empty Space" and "Junkie Do - Junkie Die" get some motion into the mix and lead to "Homophobia". Here's a song for the EBM boys to get a bit conflicted about. It's about time someone in this genre took a stand against these bigoted, cowardly, blind maggots.

What the song "One Man's Gain Another Man's Pain" is about appears clear to me but in the interest of letting Claus have his moment, I won't spell out what it's about. Anyone familiar with the last five years of no output from Leæther Strip knows it all too well. "One for One for One" is one of my favourites off this album right now. That it follows "Give us Some Shelter" is quite telling. I agree, Claus, absolutely. "Leæther Strip, Part 3" concludes the standard issue double disc version with majestic aplomb, once more showing Leæther Strip's unique and unstoppable musical style.

Disc three - the extra "Aftershock" mini album included in the three disc box edition - features a non-album track called "Aftershock" which, quite honestly, doesn't really go anywhere and seems to be an exercise in atmosphere gone awry. I may be wrong, but that's how it comes across. The remixes from the album are all wisely executed by Larsen and for the most part are quite good. The Teenage Sex Slave version of "A Boy" ought to get any dance floor moving. Is it an homage to Soft Cell? Ain't saying.

In the final analysis, "After the Devastation" is not the return to "Solitary Confinement" that some of us have been fiending for nor is it an extension of "The Re-Birth of Agony" which so many fans disliked. It is a new entry, a sprawling travelogue of sound. And it doesn't get much better than this.


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