||10/08/12 09:58 AM
The Acacia Strain - Death is the Only Mortal
The Acacia Strain - Death is the Only Mortal
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: October 9, 2012
What do you do when you get angry? Stress relief is a wide-ranging outlet, but it seems as if more often than not, The Acacia Strain have found a way for many a deathcore fan to truly release their inner spite in the form of tsunami-like guitars and venom-tongued lyrics. The band’s newest disc, their first for Rise Records, finds no end to either side of that equation, as the band retools the sound of their previous disc Wormwood into something a bit more unpredictable and less immediately catchy – if that’s a term you’re willing to use in describing any aspect of the band. But in ten tracks, Death is the Only Mortal finds The Acacia Strain trudging through some adventurous moments among their differentiations on deathcore – reminding us not only of their control of their own destiny, but seemingly the future of this oft-maligned genre as well.
Death is the Only Mortal lies within the low-end slamming of much of the band’s past, as the band finds a slighted middle ground between their chaotic cuts of The Dead Walk and the less technical but stronger songwriting of their last LP Wormwood. While it would be foolish to say the band has wandered off of the track into a genre-challenging flexibility of the two, there’s certainly a sense of that gloom from Wormwood – just done in a much less obvious manner as the band hovers between rhythmic bouts and just plain slathering of dismal melodies. The record wastes no time setting the tone – a cryptic spoken word section opens “Doomblade” with a similar feel to Wormwood, but offers a much less blunt force attack when the track kicks into full-force. Vincent Bennett’s ever debatable belts much more closely to his live approach than the much more flat recordings of that record. The haunting rhythm bobs in the background like a procession as the song takes us from thundering lows to a repeated bridge that jests with bleak optimism. The links to the past occur in waves though, as tracks like “Go To Sleep” and “Victims of the Cave” draw upon dirging rhythmic plots while “Brain Death”, “Time and Death and God” and “Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow” flash the brimming chaos heard in the band’s pre-Wormwood cuts.
The Acacia Strain manages to flex a bit of the uptempo riffing to keep things from completely falling into lower gears for the entire record. “Dust and the Helix” feels like a maelstrom at times, perhaps as it balances between the fast – at least for these guys – and slow moments of the record. Quick bursts of closer “House of Abandon” find a similar feel, as much of this record simply feels like comparisons of how slow can you go – making the slower hamming of low-end nails seem like an eternity at points.
That being said, fans of the band will arguably find plenty to dig into with this record lyrically, as Bennett waxes in his usual schemes about everything you’d expect him to from religion (“Our Lady”) to distaste in others (“Dust and the Helix”). But where records past have felt somewhat compiled from front to back besides an obvious cathartic nature for those hoping to blow off a little steam, Death is the Only Mortal hides his feelings among a veil of musings and expressions concerning angles and ideas of death. It’s not that there’s necessarily a story to be told here, but the ideas and thoughts certainly string together a bit of a continual arc through bits and pieces of the record – even if it isn’t his best writing to date. Where in “Doomblade” he seemingly speaks at one point for his outspoken nature (‘In a world filled with lies, you learn to appreciate truth’), other times the message is not quite as cut and dry (“The Mouth of the River”). But for someone such as myself who enjoyed Wormwood because of particular imagery and lines, this record finds that needed balance between those lines that hit your psyche like a lightning bolt and building up to those without taking away from their climactic nature.
I would be hesitant to believe Death is the Only Mortal will change any opinions of the band, as they’ve merely retooled and expanded a bit more on the successes of their earlier writings for an album that is crushingly heavy and ripe for us to shout or scream along to it. But in rippling the delving guitars and gripping drums with a tenacity that is tough to deny, The Acacia Strain find themselves again with just the right recipe – giving us a much more concentrated opportunity for catharsis in the key of anger.