Review Summary: Continent dominates deathcore and takes the ladies of Emmure back to the local shoe store.
Emmure's long term rivals arrive with a new slab of concrete attack on the band's fourth and latest release. Continent is a progression like no other for a band that initially began as a three-guitar-assault-sixtet. This gimmick is long gone with DL being the main focus of the groups slick-aggro dynamic.
Needless to say plenty of mindless chugging takes place throughout the entire album. The 1-0-1 chord dominates the majority of the album with little room for variation. Yet, its tough to criticize the antics coming from a band that revolutionized the opening intro chug. However, that is not the case on this release as the opening track is actually a full song rather then a primal assault of deafening breakdowns. "Skynet" shows a more focused group with songwriting actually being implemented and even a cute solo provided by the one (and only) guitarist.
The band has come a long way since their debut ...And Life Is Very Long and have cleaned up their act enormously. After removing two guitarists from the band the delivery of the guitars has become more direct, sharp and fine tuned. It's impossible to organize a band around three guitars and achieve complete unison. While deathcore enthusiasts White Chapel seem to implement the tactics flawlessly, groups such as Catalepsy fall short of achieving anything spectacular and instead provide a plethora of noise with their release. Needless to say, with Zeuss behind the production and Pro Tools dominating the majority of these new deathcore albums, three guys playing the same thing is hardly necessary. No solo's are ever at play, no atmosphere is ever provided and no new dynamic is EVER presented by this technique. You would think that with the amount of money these bands make and the lifestyle which revolves around touring and a maximum payment of $100 guarantee per show (if even), these bands would try to minimize as much as possible, especially with economic turmoil and gas budgets affecting their every move.
In this case The Acacia Strain has taken it to the next level. By cleaning up the excess members of the group, DL is able to showcase his full abilities as a writer and apply the chug in a new direction. The chemistry between the guitars and drums make this a delightful stroll through hardcore heaven. On top of the chug, a lead is utilized to develop a layer of complex originality, one which followers Emmure tend to be a tad lazy with. These chugs become full streamline rhythms that essentially make up the whole song. However, the vocals have stepped up the ante and the low throat-gutteresque approach have been amplified. With Vincent continuously bellowing on top of every breakdown and a lead guitar lick implemented above the main riff, its very interesting to await the next intricate detail . Emmure can take note of these techniques since songs such as "I Only Mean Half Of What I Dont Say," and "Rough Justice" chug aimlessly at nothing with no lead and no vocals. As tough as these breakdowns are, at some point they become obsolete and essentially become annoying through repeated listens. The Acacia Strain, although guilty of the same approach, attempt to avoid the monotony.
Mindless songs such as "Carbomb" which were cluttering the effort of 3750 have become nonexistant. Instead the quartet delivers skillfully crafted tracks that appeal to even the most advanced listener.
Keen observers will be delighted to see a drummer brought to light on this effort. Kevin is a dominating musician with clinical precision at executing the most appropriate fills. It helps that he has taken a liking to Tomas Haake (Meshuggah) and showcases his rendition of "Bleed" on "The Combine" executing a flawless double bass roll implementing devastating polyrhythm grooves. The bass provides a low end finish to the cleanliness of execution even though it does not stand out as a spectacular performance. However, with so much in the spotlight at once, does it even matter what the low end is doing? It is clearly the next step for these guys and they obviously recognize the competition is here. However, The Acacia Strain proves to be a powerhouse of aggressive hardcore and put the followers to complete shame with the sound they originated back in 2000.
With so many deathcore and aggressive hardcore acts being released by Rise, Ferret, Victory, Tribunal, Uprising, and a dozen other indie/underground labels, groups such as Eternal Lord, For The Fallen Dreams, and I Declare War really have taken a beating by this release. The production is top-notch with a crisp touch added to the atrocity. With a new approach to the breakdown and a new attitude behind the punishing presentation, it is clear that The Acacia Strain have come out on top. Had this release beat the deadline on this genre The Acacia Strain may have found themselves amongst the ranks of leaders Job For A Cowboy and perhaps Suicide Silence.