Released: 2008, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Massachusetts’ The Acacia Strain return with CONTINENT, another blistering slab of misanthropic hatred from the deathcore pioneers. Further trimming down the band members to a four-piece (The Acacia Strain once featured three guitarists, a la Whitechapel) and enlisting a new bassist since 2006’s THE DEAD WALK, the new record sounds tight and ferocious on all levels. Vincent Bennett’s deep, acidic bark gets around lyrics that are so spiteful, so hate-filled and angry that one has to wonder just what happened to him earlier in life. Despite being the sole remaining six-stringer, Daniel Laskiewic manages to fill the spectrum with plenty of biting guitar crunch and wheedly squeals. Zeuss’ production style is matched well with the band’s sound, too, and while not quite as heavy as THE DEAD WALK (that record boasting one of the heaviest and most annihilating productions these ears have ever heard), CONTINENT continues down a similar path that has become heavily populated over the past two years.
The sound of ear-bleeding distortion opens the album on “Skynet,” a tempo-changing beast that slows to a crawl within the first minute before kicking into a headbanging groove. Laskiewic adds just the right melodic touch to the downtuned guitars giving the song an immediate catchiness usually devoid from this genre. The mid-tempo lurch of “Seaward” is just as infectious with Leskiewic throwing pinch harmonics out left and right and even laying down a solo on “Dr. Doom.” Melodies hit a new high for The Acacia Strain on “JFC” around the 2:00 mark as the band briefly treads near Misery Signals territory and the closing instrumental, “The Behemoth,” is a somber conclusion to an otherwise chaotic forty minutes. For his part, Bennett unleashes barb after poisonous barb from start to finish on this record. Whether taking on the persona of a stalker for “Forget-Me-Not” (“She died like she lived/On her fucking back”), calling out an amorous girl on “Cthulu” (“I wouldn’t touch you with someone else’s dick”), expounding on world affairs with “Baby Buster” (“I don’t sing fucking love songs because there’s nothing in this world for me to love”) or just plain hating humanity on “JFC” (I pushed the button/I watched the sky rain death/Consider this global abortion”), Bennett has plenty of targets for his apparent rage and they all get hit squarely between the eyes.
Along with The Red Chord, The Acacia Strain was one of the first bands to really get the whole deathcore trend rolling back in 2004 on their record, 3750. Since then, bands like Suicide Silence, Whitechapel, Job For A Cowboy and Despised Icon (along with an endless string of others) have jumped on the bandwagon, as well, but with an album like CONTINENT, there is no question who the undisputed kings of the genre are. The colorful, Armageddon-like cover art by Paul Romano (whoever decided a neon green CD was a good idea needs to be given a smack) is in direct opposition to the music here, which is so unflinchingly dark, angry and pessimistic that the listener can’t help but get caught up in the nihilistic view of the world as portrayed by The Acacia Strain. Without ever becoming preachy, CONTINENT is as much of a political and social statement as it is an album and a strong and convincing one at that.
KILLER KUTS: “Skynet,” “Seaward,” “Dr. Doom,” “Cthulu,” “Balboa Towers,” “The Combine”