Review Summary: A breakdown done many times well...U
nless you’ve been oblivious to a metal/hardcore scene 2004 then The Acacia Strain has probably been put past your ears at least once. The type of music that The Acacia Strain provides is a type of heaviness which is either disgusted by the listener or enjoyed immensely. This band has progressed up to their 5th full length album and many would believe that the type of music is extremely repetitive and monotonous- so how do you stay fresh for this many years and this many albums? I’m 22 years old and I still find The Acacia Strain enjoyable to listen too. They are a band that has lyrics that are just obnoxious riddled with hate and disgust. One liners like “Time to suck today’s dick. I hope you choke on it”, I still find myself beating my chest and thinking about the girls in my past that have done me wrong. If you are new to this band the dynamics are really as follows: anger, chugging, and choke slamming someone through 3 tables.
The guitars/bass use ridiculous “drop- strings flopping like a wet noodle” tuning which creates a huge wall of dark sounds. The voice of The Acacia Strain is none other than Vincent Bennett is a remarkable front man.While he genuinely embodies anger, he also creates a sense of emotion and passion within the music.
the band has come up with their heaviest material ever and halfway achieves an undesired fate of repetition. It’s almost stomach turning how consistently heavy this album is and how it takes the listener for a ride and never lets up. For previous fans of The Acacia Strain they will find themselves right at home as the dynamics and message stays the same. For new listeners they better be able to take brass knuckle shots because their ears will be in for one pummeling fist fight.
The album kicks off with swelling feedback of guitars in the opening track Beast
. An eerie female robotic voice comes through speaking of killing and “necessary doings”. The band blasts through in full effect with guitar work that seems to be the heaviest off of an Acacia Strain. This is due to the experimentation of an 8 string guitar for an even deeper wall of sound. No one who’s heard previous Acacia Strain albums would ever question the heaviness and impact of the guitar in the music. This addition of the 8-string guitar creates an even heavier illusion for the listener to make it seem like he’s slipped into the 13th level of hell (as opposed to the 7th I guess). Jamey Jasta has his guest appearance on this song which is pretty uninspiring to say the least. I mean it doesn’t help that the part he has he has to strain his scream which honestly probably would be the same way Vincent would sound if he had to scream like that. The Hills Have Eyes
starts off with a rhythmic hardcore vibe. The drums are fast and the circle pitting has gone to work in the listeners mind. Vincent’s vocals vary very little but he makes every word count. His pronunciations are audible- which is quite an achievement for having such a bottomless scream. The beginning of BTM FDR
feels pretty cheesy to me. It sounds like Vincent screaming over the television that’s in the background of your room but the setting it creates is more of one in a Friday the 13th movie. It feels pretty cheesy to me but the song develops quite nicely into a protest against Christianity. If this is the most personal lyrics that Vincent ever wrote then he probably doesn’t hold Christianity too highly in his mind. The song progressively seems to get more ferocious with the addition of variations on the lead riff and even harder chugging for more massive breakdowns. The music at times feels just flat out evil
- at times I wonder if I’m going to hell for just listening to an album that’s this heavy and intense.
The 4th song Ramirez
is one of my favorites. It’s kind of hard to explain why it’s my favorite since the first 4 songs can come off as quite repetitive. This song comes at me with smoother lyrical transitions and in my opinion more creative riffing. I can tolerate heavy to multiple degrees but I enjoy variations in this field and this song displays that nicely. Interesting is at the 1:58 mark where Vincent screams “I don’t give a ***” and it has a delay stutter effect which really seems mainstream but fits nicely with the tempo and pacing of the song. Terminated
continues the terminator title themes for this band and the song delivers nicely. There are a lot of great guitar moments in this song such as the slowdown in the verses and the slides at the end. Being that this band can get extremely repetitive you appreciate these parts even more then you should. It shows some effort in terms of progression instead of having 5 albums with 10 sounds that have striking similarities. Once again the robot talking and the weird space sounds enter during the interlude. I’m almost shocked that The Acacia Strain experimented with this because it seems like traits of the newest Emmure album Felony. Bruce LePage’s guest appearance on Nightman
is extremely lackluster and cry worthy. The lyrics are corny as hell and the way he screams it adds to the nausea level. Overall this song turns to be one my least liked on the album because of the annoyingness of the chorus that just so happens to feature Bruce LePage. I almost wish Jamey Jasta did this song because it sounds so much like a Hatebreed song and I feel like he would’ve been a much smarter pick.
is another song that I’ll remember from Wormwood. Once again it features nice variations of guitar riffs and some pretty fast and nifty drumming. I found the drums to take a much bigger role in this song then in the previous and the guitar riffs seem to have more thought and inspiration put within them. The reason why this song is going to be memorable is for two lines… “We destroy the things that make the world go round. We are the reason there is blood on the ground”. This lyrics flow effortlessly through a scream and should be used as the focal point for an album preview/teaser. It’s catchy and like I said the lyrics transition flawlessly. Once again, oddly this sound that sounds like scrapping a pick high up on the neck sounds freakishly a lot like the same effect used on an Emmure song “False Love in Real Life”. The sound provided makes for a great hook though and this song is definitely one of the strongest Acacia Strain song’s ever. Jonestown
is the first single off of the album and displays a great variety of what the album has to offer. It has all of the lows and highs of the album. An interesting solo lead riff sounds extremely cool but oddly it’s muffled in the background like it shouldn’t be an important thing. The song displays the lows of the album where some parts sound extremely monotonous but then again displays verses and interludes where Acacia Strain has never stepped musically before. It’s almost like the band wanted to progress in sound but only took one baby step forward which leads to some tasteful relics and other repetitive sounds.
starts off a lot like “Terminated” did but shows off its own personality. Again, experimenting with electric sounds and delays are delightful but I wish there was some more of it. I really waited throughout this album to expect something really experimental and progressive and overall I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong all of these songs are good fun to listen too but when listening to the album top to bottom I really wish there was something more there. By the time you get toUnabomber
you need to look at the track title to see if you’ve repeated the album or not because it might be hard to tell at points. Also at this point of the album you wonder if Vincent was able to talk after recording this album. The album is that heavy where there is no intermission, no break, only breaking of the face (and ears). This isn’t an album for singing but I remember songs like “Smoke Ya Later” which sounds like a babies lullaby compared to this whole album. Tactical Nuke
is another oddity to end this album. It seems like it was recorded in one take live where the whole band just jammed out with little to no vocals- just a hard breakdown that get’s slower and slower. I’m sure this style of song would be cool as hell at a live show but it left me wondering if there was going to be a secret song at the end since it was the same riff repeated for 4 minutes.
I feel like if you’ve come reading this review then you are probably a fan of The Acacia Strain or maybe an older fan that lost touch with this band. I have to say that if you were ever a fan of this band that you should listen to Wormwood
. It’s nothing ground breaking but it’s from a band that you can tell is passion about music more than the way that they look or what they wear. It’s from a band that I used to think was too heavy for my tastes and now I embrace them every time I’m feeling in that mood to hear a breakdown done right. Guest appearances for a band like this can work wonders since Vincent’s scream only goes so far. I feel like the guest appearances on this album were overall uninspired and boring at best. The spots really weren’t there or they really didn’t mesh well. Wormwood finds itself between a rock and a hard place with a band that’s growing older and has released many successful LP’s. As we can ensure that this band hasn’t gone soft on us, I also wish I could say that this album was more of a right direction from where “Continent” went but I can’t bring myself to say that. I own all 5 LP’s from The Acacia Strain and I still feel that “Continent” was where the band peaked in performance. Every song seemed recognizable and many of the riffs are some of my favorite to play today. I found the vocal performance on Wormwood to edge out Vincent’s on “Continent” but I still enjoyed the overall setting more on “Continent”. With that being said I know my copy of Wormwood will have its place in my CD player for awhile to come.
Original Release Date: July 20th, 2010
Label: Prosthetic Records
The Acacia Strain is:
Vincent Bennett - Vocals
Daniel "DL" Laskiewicz – Guitar, programming
Jack Strong - Bass
Kevin Boutot – Drums, percussion