In the past, I’ve never gone out of my way to listen to The Acacia Strain. The first time I actually sat down and paid attention to a song of theirs was when they released the first single, Jonestown, off of their fifth studio album titled Wormwood. I loved it. It had a simple groove, angry and emotional lyrics, and I loved the sound of Vincent’s growl. Even though I really enjoyed the song, I had mid to low expectations for the album. All I can say after listening to the album thoroughly is, wow. I did not expect such a pissed off, misanthropic, sonic assault. Not only is it angry, but boy oh boy is it heavy. These two aspects obviously walk hand in hand and The Acacia Strain use that to their advantage, and to full effect.
The first four songs hit you in the face with a sledgehammer swung by a bloodthirsty gorilla. The band whips out an eight string beat down that never lets up. What should turn into a monotonous chug fest is saved by Vincent’s emotionally seeping and brutal screams and dark/mysterious melodies layered over each other in an expertly manner. Each breakdown is placed in a precise moment in order to reach each songs desired dynamic potential and they aren’t thrown in for the sake of “teh br00talz”. The breakdowns are almost needed. Yes, I just said that. You need something slow and crushingly heavy in order for Vincent’s ferocious and offensive chants to seem appropriate and not out of place. Listen to songs such as Ramirez
and Bay of Pigs
for examples, the latter arguably has the best breakdown of the album. The Acacia Strain really had a good idea of what they wanted this album to sound like. Every song flows into another, in a good way, and without trying hard at all you can easily pick out a memorable moment in each song.
Many may find the lyrics horrendous, cheesy, or maybe even offensive, while only some will understand what Vincent was going for. Vincent stated before the album release that these would be the most personal lyrics he has ever written. After listening to the record the previous statement becomes an obvious fact. He is angry, really angry. The themes involve Christianity, whores, and misanthropy, lots of misanthropy. Nothing totally new or innovative, yes, but I’m quite confident in saying that I have never heard someone pull it off as well as this. The lyrics are so emotional and in your face that they become therapeutic. If you are ever pissed off, this is the album to listen to. You can really hear the anger behind Vincent’s voice and it makes the lyrics much more meaningful. It’s easy to relate to them as well. If you hate Christianity listen to The Hills Have Eyes
. If you are pissed off at an ex, listen to BTM FDR
. The album is filled with memorable lines that you just want to yell to the world; however the trick is to not take them seriously. For example, in BTM FDR
, you’ll hear one of my favourite lines: “You spread disease when you spread your legs. Time to suck today’s dick. I hope you choke on it.” The line is laughable, in a good way though, but it’s not like Vincent was going for something very emotional and deep here. There are lines like this throughout the album and makes the overall listening experience much more exciting.
The album, of course, does not come without its flaws. While the album helps The Acacia Strain stick their neck out of the tired deathcore genre, it does little else. It’s not very innovative, and variety is rarely found. On the first few listens some songs will seem very boring. Besides that, it’s hard to find anything to complain about. Although I quite enjoy Vincent's growl, it gets dull by the end of the album and it's disappointing he has such little range. The guest vocal appearances are rather useless as well, playing fairly small roles. What I can't seem to understand is how the guest appearances sound so similar to Vincent's vocals. If I was left totally unaware of the fact that there were guest vocals, I wouldn't have even noticed it was a totally different person.
Without exaggerating, I can easily say this is one of the heaviest albums I’ve ever heard. That reason alone is worth checking this out, but there is so much more to it. The songs flow well, and song writing is ace overall, it is very emotional and relatable, and features many well done breakdowns that will remind you why the abused technique ever became popular. This isn’t the run of the mill deathcore album, and several listens are acquired in order to give final judgement. I love pleasant surprises, and so should you. In other words, listen to this album.