Reviewed: May 2020
Released: 27th December 2019, Closed Casket Activities
Reviewer: Andrew Shirley
The Acacia Strain are not your average heavy band: their sound has progressed through releases, getting heavier, grittier and just downright filthy since their inception in 2001. Since then they’ve gone several line up changes, from three guitarists to two, to one and back to two, but the end of 2019 brought them a solid line up and an even more solid new album.
As a band who prefer to be just classed as “Heavy”, it’s really not hard to see why. The band’s influences from other heavy music genres are clear throughout, with doom & black metal to avant-garde and left-field ideas liberally sprinkled throughout. It feels like they’ve wanted to create soundscapes, perhaps taking notes from drone bands like Sunn O))) in places, but with their own version of what that would sound like through an The Acacia Strain filter.
Each track is named singularly, spelling out “Our” “Own” “Mistake” “Was” “Giving” “Them” “Names”, each delving into the possibility of there being interdimensional entities that humans have worshipped that are pulling the strings to either get the results they want or for just their own entertainment. This narrative continuity of the titles emphasises the musical continuity of the tracks and encourages you to keep going through in one hit, something that isn’t so easy with the way we all consume music and media in the information age.
As a concept album of sorts, the way the tracks have been named is to lead you to listen to the album in order and all in one. In an age where it’s hard enough to get someone to watch a music video in its entirety, it’s a brave move but when you latest release gives you the twists, turns and variety it does with this, it might not be as bold as one would think.
Bands like NOFX have released one song releases that aren’t classed as singles but share a theme and sound throughout, as does this 7 song, 25-minute epic. Each track has the same feeling and atmosphere but differs enough that the listener isn’t bored and will keep going to see where it goes next.
One stand out is that there is little of the obvious full on deathcore sound of their 2002 debut release “…And Life Is Very Long” and their heavy-hitting 2008 “Continent” but that doesn’t mean that they can’t draw you into their own version of sonic hell. Only on the penultimate “Them” are there traces of their former sound but it’s gone as quickly as it came. The Acacia Strain are adept in their field of heavy music and are no longer constrained by any genres that could hinder their music and progression.