The Acacia Strain - Wormwood
Prosthetic Records
12 songs (47:32)
Release year: 2010
Prosthetic Records
Reviewed by Goat

One of those bands that you only really notice when you hear someone else slagging them off, The Acacia Strain peddle a distinctly middle-of-the-road form of mid-paced deathcore, full of breakdowns, anger at vague targets, breakdowns, Meshuggah-fied riffage, breakdowns swearing, breakdowns and, well, breakdowns. Apparently the band reject the deathcore tag and prefer to just call themselves ‘heavy’, which is fair enough I suppose – this is some pretty heavy stuff, if you’re into breakdowns. I’d call it brutal, but I don’t want to sound patronising or sarcastic (as if!). Wormwood, you see, is pretty much exactly what you’d get if Meshuggah went crap and/or deathcore, slowing right down, changing vocalist and writing the same song over and over again. I like Meshuggah, as regular readers will know, I think they’re brilliant. This, however, is not so good.

Why? It’s repetitive, and it’s long. Forty-seven minutes is a step above and beyond the call of duty for any band, and above all for deathcore, even assuming the band enjoys the spice of variety. The Acacia Strain do not. They cater to the sort of listener who thinks that distorted vocals on the word ‘fuck’ is something to be celebrated, the sort who says ‘hell yeah!’ to a Jamey Jasta guest vocal spot, the sort who bodybuilds and gets down in the moshpit like they’re in a bizarre remake of Saturday Night Fever. The worst thing about this band is that they’re rather endearing in very small doses, the reason I decided to write this, thinking that a full album might not be so bad. I once described them on the forum as ‘slow, heavy, metallic hardcore, like a piledriver made of slow-mo kung-fu dancing.’ I must have written that under the influence of something, or before I heard The Impaler, sample lyrics: “Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!”

I’d have ended the review there, except I’m fascinated by this band in some strange way, like a horrific road accident that you can’t look away from. Some of the atmospheric moments are close to effective, except only as a reminder of what Meshuggah did far better – the background guitars in Bay Of Pigs for example. Final track Tactical Nuke is slightly different from the rest of the album, as despite repeating a riff over and over as on the other tracks, it’s distinctly slower. Imagine all the impressionable young things getting down in the moshpit to this, and weep for youth. Not least because the roots of a good band are actually audible, buried deep beneath worn-out copies of Nothing and bodybuilder magazines. If there’s one member I might deign to save from drowning, it’d be drummer Kevin Boutot, who sometimes sounds like he knows what he’s doing, constantly straining at the syrupy leash in the form of the guitars and longing to do a bit of blasting. Get out while you can, Kevin! We’re rooting for you.

As we were taught to say in school, I liked this because it made me think. There’s a line in Unabomber about how we are swimming against the tide in a sea full of shit, and I thought ‘yeah, how true’. As a reviewer of things metal, you really have to pick and choose what you write about – there are many, many deathcore bands out there that write similar music and inspire similar feelings, yet why accentuate the negative and write each and every single one of them up? People who like that kind of thing will do it anyways, like erotic asphyxiation or watching Scrubs. You might want to try it one time after a friend raved, nervously explaining to a sceptical partner the many benefits, yet you just watch their face the moment Zack Braph strolls on screen, or the moment the strangulation starts – the effects are the same.

I’m sure to get hate mail for not spelling that idiot’s name right, and for giving “diss” unto a righteous band, so here’s the disclaimer. Yes, you could be doing worse things than listening to The Acacia Strain. You could be killing people, or listening to Coal Chamber. I’m sure if you do ‘work out’ then The Acacia Strain make a stimulating soundtrack, and if you do like taking your top off and dancing and you’re all out of Mötley Crüe, then hey, knock yourself out. Please. But don’t tell me. I’ll be off listening to my Meshuggah albums, pretending that this bastardised runt of the litter was drowned at birth, and that The Acacia Strain haven’t released five albums. Yeah, five, I was shocked too.

Killing Songs :
”Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!”
Goat quoted 35 / 100
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