The Acacia Strain
posted on 10/2010 By:
Everything you’ve heard about The Acacia Strain is true. So is everything you think about them already.
For most, ‘everything’ means the following: The Acacia Strain are a very heavy, very dumb metal band. They have mild hardcore leanings; they liberally make use of ‘djent’ chugs; and they used to have three guitarists. A lot of folks would say that they epitomize everything that is bad—or good, depending on your outlook—about deathcore. They’re macho, singleminded, hyper-aggressive, and without subtlety or songwriting ability to speak of.
Put differently, this band dumbs down and jacks up Blood Has Been Shed’s seminal 2003 album Spirals, which in turn dumbed down and jacked up Meshuggah. Even after five (!) albums, The Acacia Strain continues to be extraordinarily heavy in the sense that they make a lot of loud, chunky, clunky, bendy noises that you can bob your head to. These noises come complete with skipped beats and weird turnarounds that make them sound ‘mathy.’
As far as I can tell, the main reason that The Acacia Strain—and Wormwood especially—draws so much fire is frontman Vincent Bennett. His midranged bellow sounds perfectly fine until you start paying attention to what he’s saying. When he’s not talking about how he is going to change the world with his badassery, he’s railing against a vague second party. You fucking disgust him. You love things; he hates those things. You are his fucking enemy. You…get the idea.
As The Acacia Strain grinds out one chopped-up, amelodic groove in four after another, it’s easy to understand why they are treated with such contempt by the underground elite. Wormwood is derivative, thoughtless, and reliant upon a single musical tactic.
But metal tastemakers have smiled upon many a dumber band. What makes Bennett’s dunderheaded ranting any worse than the latest goon thumping his chest about zombies or Satan? Does the latter’s allowance for ironic detachment really make it that much more appealing? And is stealing riffs and beats from Slayer, Obituary or Darkthrone really that much more sophisticated than this music? The Acacia Strain, for all their repetition, do have a modicum of technical skill.
So yes, you’ve heard that The Acacia Strain are deathcore thickos, and they are. But what you haven’t heard nearly as often as you should is that mindlessly perpetuating tradition for its own sake isn’t any better. Wormwood may be dreck, but at this point, I’d take it over the latest ninth-hand Autopsy clone to crawl out of the basements.
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