December 22, 2010

Music Review: The Acacia Strain - Wormwood

With the opening sounds of "Beast" I can picture a pit full of hardcore kids letting out a roar, arms raised to the sky with balled fists, followed by a quick burst of applause, a flash of light and the start of a violent fury that will not end. A swirl of bodies, fists and feet pierce the air over their heads, bodies getting tossed like rag dolls. All of this happens while The Acacia Strain turn the stage into splinters. This music is angry, violent, and goes right for the throat. If you like a god dose of chug with your metal, get yourself a cup full of this strain. You won't be disappointed.

This is a band I have had limited experience with. My first exposure came when I reviewed their last album, Continent, last year. I liked it. I did not find it to be the best or the most original, but it delivered the anger and violence I enjoy. Now along comes Wormwood and I think I am really beginning to like them. The anger and violence is still plentiful, but it feels more immediate and personal. I rarely understand what Vincent Bennett is saying, but it sounds like he is growling from a deep dark place in his heart, and he means it.

The style is a little harder to pin down. It is not that it is so out there as to defy classification, it is more like it meets at the crossroads of a few of them. More often than not I have seen them called metalcore, and those elements are there, but I also get some deathcore and hardcore out of them. Too heavy for one, too soft for another, somewhere in the middle they are just right. At times they remind of Emmure, if they would only get away from the constant breakdowns.

Wormwood has a great groove quality to it. The 8-string guitars add some serious chunkiness to the proceedings, I like it. This is music that genuine mass and if you are not careful you may find yourself crushed beneath it. There is nothing earth-shattering to discover here and in grand scheme of things, this is not a great album. It delivers what it needs, a dose of crushing heaviness, some strong breakdowns, and content that is born of unfocused emotional anger. That last bit does not really lead to intense imagination, but it does inform the listener that there is something real behind it.

Bottomline. So, if you want to get violent, pop in some Wormwood, leave the Emmure behind. This will get you there just as quickly and offer more musically to boot. I like it. End of Story.


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