Release Date: Jun 30, 2017
Record label: Rise Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Eight albums into their career, the Acacia Strain know where their strengths lie: tune low, play slow. On their latest album, Gravebloom, the Massachusetts deathcore crew pull together another gloomy, droned-out collection filled with loads of crushingly heavy breakdowns and brutal, gurgling vocals. Opening track "Worthless" begins with all of the typical elements found on one of the deathcore originators' albums, from the ominous, atmospheric build-up to the enormous sounding guitars and drums to vocalist Vincent Bennett's harsh, guttural voice. This track is a no-frills beatdown of a song built on aggression, much like the rest of the album.
The Western Massachusetts deathcore veterans' eighth studio long-player, Gravebloom opens appropriately with a track called "Worthless," a turgid, dirge-like rumination on self-esteem that's so relentlessly bleak it almost feels like a parody. It's fitting because the Acacia Strain have been tossing blackened coins into the bottomless pit of despair for nearly two decades, and while little effort has been made to expand or even reign in the band's sound, innovation has never been the point. Gravebloom, like nearly every album in the genre, is about distilling apoplexy into song, and with that in mind, it's hard to argue against its efficacy.
This is disgustingly heavy. Uncompromising, relentless and staggeringly brutal, The Acacia Strain's eighth full-length captures the same filth and fury as their first. Dealing out the sort of downtrodden riffs that could bring on motion sickness and drenched in enough bile-stained hatred to fill a lake, 'Gravebloom' drags you to the darkest regions of hell, spits in your face for good measure and revels in the beating that it's dealing your eardrums. It doesn't deviate much from the well-worn blueprint that the band have stuck to throughout their career, but when your music is this deliciously punishing why would you change? .
The Acacia Strain slip into a coma and upon waking up promptly reissue Coma Witch, minus a certain thirty minute closing track. For a band long associated with the often reviled deathcore movement, The Acacia Strain somehow managed to skirt the struggles that their brethren faced. Where deathcore bands are criticized for monotonous songwriting and an overreliance on breakdowns, The Acacia Strain rarely seems to get called out for embodying these exact qualities. As someone that took quite a while to come around to their brand of extremity, it has been an unsettling experience to see people praise The Acacia Strain as a "tolerable" deathcore act, while dismissing others with a more traditional approach.