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The Acacia Strain – Slow Decay

The Acacia Strain
Slow Decay
by "Der Bärtige Mann" Gareth Beams at 03 October 2020, 6:16 AM

THE ACACIA STRAIN is an American metal and punk band, formed in Chicopee, Massachusetts in 2001. Frontman Vincent Bennett is the only remaining original member. The offshoot of punk known as Deathcore is perhaps considered the most applicable genre tag when it comes to trying to actually categorize THE ACACIA STRAIN, but in truth, their sound is a blend of different styles - death metal and doom metal are both prevalent, as are hardcore, punk and noise rock. Their three-guitar lineup is key to the brutality of their sound, and they’ve also often relied on unsettling sampling to create sonic atmosphere. Bennett is now the only original member left in the band; drummer Kevin Boutot only joined in 2005, with bassist Jack Strong joining him in the rhythm section a year later. Dave Shidaker and Richard Gomez have handled guitar duties since 2013.

Bennett is the key figure in the band, with his aggressive onstage attitude something that’s mirrored by his nihilistic - and often misanthropic - lyricism. There’s no question, either, that Bennett has courted controversy by exploring themes of misogyny, violence and sexual deviancy in THE ACACIA STRAIN’s music; for some, though, this darkness is key to their appeal. They’ve increasingly made inroads on the American charts, with 2014‘s ‘Coma Witch’ reaching number thirty-one on the Billboard rundown in their homeland, despite the fact that their music is hardly striking as being especially commercial.

Feed a Pigeon Breed a Rat” kicks off the album with a slow building intro. However, as it approaches you know it will kick off. It does indeed. That dirty Deathcore riff appears, which we were expecting. The sound is similar to those bands who are often in the middle, classification-wise, between Metalcore and Deathcore. BETYRAYING THE MARTYR and WHITECHAPEL are others like this that spring to mind. The tempo is decent, nothing to set off too many pits, yet, but the heads will bang. It’s a decent, slow burner to kick off, hopefully will move up the gears as we progress.

Crippling Poison” has the Hardcore aspects from a vocal stance easy for us to hear. Tempo is about where the previous song left off. Its still got a decent melody, building up, could do with an explosion. The song isn’t building up to anything really and wasn’t much different from before, a bit disappointing. “Seeing God” has the slow, controlled tempo flowing through the song once more. Vocals pick up pace as the melodies expand slightly. It does pick up and lose pace and tempo throughout, but shows little expansion to what we have already heard. So far, the first 2 songs could have just been one long one. Nothing wrong with the sound as a whole, but needs mixing up. Aaron Heard, as a vocal guest was not apparent. I couldn’t tell much difference or a clear indication of a change.

Solace and Serenity” seems more aggressive from the off, faster paced. The intensity doesn’t last as it blends into the overall sound of the album. Its sludge-paced melodies are nothing different, nor interesting as a change of melody in the slightest. It reminds me of BLACK TONGUE, with their Doomcore approach, but not as heavier, intense or interesting as certain songs. I could have turned this off easily were it not for needing to hear it all the way through to see if any changed. It did not. “The Lucid Dream” starts off the same as before, then Jess hits the vocals and shit kinda seems to kick off, unfortunately it seems only when her screams are heard, the tempo is better, but only just. By mid-way through you know it won’t explode or change a great deal and it would have been far more dull without the vocal guest, which does add depth and some true aggression. This song seems to try more, but still not hitting the heights I feel it could and should have.

I Breathed in the Smoke Deeply It Tasted Like Death and I Smiled” just goes through the already apparent motions. However, it is even slower and thus, less interesting. There is nothing different about this song as my interest in the album as it progresses it dwindling “Crossgates” actually changed song from the previous and I was non the wiser. What does that say about this album? “Inverted Person” keeps up the pace that the album has emulated so far. The vocals are once more uninspiring and the song blends into the album. This one tries to slow things down towards the end and end on a high point, but it just slows things down and makes it more sludgier.

Chhinnamasta” opens up with a decent building intro, decent tempo and melodies. Vocals are aggressive. Where the fuck has this been? The song does slow down, which I was guessing it would after such a strong start. It just blends into what you will have already heard. It ends as many others have, disappointingly “One Thousand Painful Stings” is a good title of the album to describe my ears. The song blends its now usual Hardcore style vocals with Sludge paced melodies. It is pretty much the same as every song on this album. How did they think it was worth releasing? So many missed breakouts point they could have used. Towards the end it just fades away like it should be the last song on the album, and by this point I wanted that.

Birds of Paradise, Birds of Prey” is even slower and sludgier. Fuck sake. This is not what the end of this album needed. I’m not gonna waste time describing what has been in place since the start of this album, but each song loses points on the score. “Earth Will Become Death” carries on from the previous song as if there was no change in song. Damn. It just fades out in the end. Finally

When I took this on, I was hoping it would be more like earlier releases such as Wormwood and Gravebloom. Its not like those albums, nowhere near the intensity, seeming passion more changes. So many missed opportunities to change and mix things up. Hardly worth the time, and that annoys and upsets me coz I do like this band and some of their songs. Slow Decay is a great title because that is exactly how my interest in the band was during the album and the more songs like these, the faster the decay will work

Songwriting: 4
Musicianship: 4
Memorability: 4
Production: 4

2 Star Rating

1. Feed a Pigeon Breed a Rat
2. Crippling Poison
3. Seeing God (feat. Aaron Heard of JESUS PIECE)
4. Solace and Serenity
5. The Lucid Dream (feat. Jess Nyx of MORTALITY RATE)
6. I Breathed in the Smoke Deeply It Tasted Like Death and I Smiled (feat. Zach Hatfield of LEFT BEHIND)
7. Crossgates
8. Inverted Person
9. Chhinnamasta
10. One Thousand Painful Stings (feat. Courtney LaPlante of SPIRITBOX)
11. Birds of Paradise, Birds of Prey
12. Earth Will Become Death
Vincent Bennett  – Lead Vocals
Devin Shidaker  – Guitars
Griffin Landa  – Bass Guitar
Tom "The Hammer" Smith, Jr. – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Kevin Boutot  – Drums
Record Label: Rise Records


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Edited 05 February 2023

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