The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Sunday, August 01, 2010

CD Review: The Acacia Strain - Wormwood

The Acacia Strain - Wormwood
2010 Prosthetic Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



Today's threads of death, crunk and metalcore have become as close to a commodity in the metal scene as hairball heaven and crossover thrash was during the eighties. Attracting even more clones and wannabes to an updated world embracing them with open ISB ports if not hearts, it's getting damned strenuous trying to find the real players resonating under the extreme music radar outside of the usual suspects like Opeth, Machine Head, Lamb of God, Nile, Behemoth and The Black Dahlia Murder.

"Deathcore" has always been tagged upon the backs of Chicopee's The Acacia Strain. Sufficient enough to describe the bloodletting crunch of their previous albums 3750, The Dead Walk and Continent. Despite the trendy labelspeak, there's something The Acacia Strain possesses which whirls them away from the league of posers and imposters ripping out down-tuned chaos with one eye straying towards a Hot Topic target crowd.

For one thing, actual cadence and feeling. The vibe of The Acacia Strain is brutish and unforgiving, and that's exactly what you want in a modern metal band looking to push the boundaries of the genre. Brackish bass lines, outlandish, nasty wolfing and trip hammers galore are found in The Acacia Strain's construct. On their lastest album Wormwood, all three play prominence at a pinpointed, murky pace. All the better to set off ripping guitar buzzes at will engineering a menacing yet peversely entertaining trip.

Despite the steady mosh rhythms of "Ramirez" and "The Hills Have Eyes," Wormwood chomps and chomps with sluggish drag tempos on "Terminated," "Beast," "BTM FDR," (standing for "bottom feeder") "Jonestown" and "The Impaler." The pace is purposefully scaled back from The Acacia's Strain's previous work with a forced concretation on chunkier riffs, plunging note scrapes and rat-a-tat sublets expounded beneath the horrific crawl Wormwood slithers upon.

The album's gory bogginess is The Acacia Strain's fiercest output yet, straight down to the piercing fret screeches by Daniel "DL" Laskiewicz on "The Impaler" to Kevin Boutot's smashed-up polyrhythm on "Bay of Pigs." While the knuckle-scraped non-speed of Wormwood will possibly wear on the impatient, the blaring tones and professional scorching are the reasons to bear it out. Better yet, to succumb to its hopeless dirge.

"The Carpathian" does step up to mid tempo, and do expect random bpm spikes along the course of the album. However, the slow grind of Wormwood's ultimate design is to capture the nihilistic atrocities of mankind depecited in both the fictional and real-life theaters. It hits from "Jonestown," "Unabomber," "Ramirez" (as in serial killer Richard Ramirez), "Tactical Nuke" and "Bay of Pigs" to horror yarn roasts ala "The Hills Have Eyes," "The Impaler" and "The Carpathian." For fun, The Acacia Strain also pokes at It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia with "Nightman."

Fitting that "Tactical Nuke" is the lumbering instrumental drone finale that it is. It's like the fateful drop of genocide prolonged from the vantage of the gods who'd soon abandon the mortal race in a fallout of shame instead of helping to save it. By the time "Tactical Nuke" ends, your ears have been fully gouged, awaiting the death siren to announce our collective doom. Wormwood is that ugly and fearsome, you feel prepped for annihilation by the time it's finished. Also fitting the title Wormwood refers to the star in the Book of Revelations prophecied to poison a third of the earth's waters, snuffing those who would drink from them. Prelude to the global holocaust Wormwood the album rings and clatters in full warning.

Lending Vincent Bennett a few barked-up licks are Jamey Jasta on "Beast," Bruce LePage of 100 Demons on "Nightman" and Kyle Chard of Born Low on "Jonestown," although take the caveat Chard's vocal tracks only come on the iTunes and vinyl versions of Wormwood, not the CD albums. Sorry, but that's shady business at work. Isn't the CD having enough trouble these days without a flagrant cripple stroke?

That minor itch aside, legendary producer Zeuss helps turn Wormwood into one vicious son of a bitch that will scrape you up worse than falling face-first from a skate crash.

Rating: ****

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Anonymous said...

great review man, I admit when I first got this album I really didn't care for many of the songs (the carpathian was my first favourite) but after listening to the album several times it has really grown on me. some hell brutal lyrics in Wormwood for sure!

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