Sound — 6
The Acacia Strain formed in 2001 and have since released album after album of "deathcore" or "metalcore" music, though they have specifically stated that is NOT what they consider their genre to be - they define their music as being "hardcore-influenced metal." Recently, the founding guitarist, DL Laskiewicz, was expelled from the band for unknown reasons and was replaced by two fulltime guitarists - Devin Shidaker and Richard Gomez. The new album, "Coma Witch," is the band's seventh full-length studio effort, and features both new guitarists, as well as being released a new label - Rise Records. There have been three singles released from the album, with the first being "Cauterizer," which also released with a music video. The second and third singles are "Nailgun" (released in September) and "VVorld Demise" (released in early October). While this is the band's seventh album, this is the first album with Vincent Bennett (vocals) remaining as the sole founding member in the band.
The album opens with the track "Human Disaster," which starts out with an audio sample and then guitars come in chugging in each speaker respectively, followed by some pretty standard -core metal. Instead of going song by song on this one, I'm just gonna talk a little bit about what I hear with the album. I have not previously been aware of Acacia Strain, but I do have several friends who have pointed me in their direction and told me what an awesome metal band they are. Well, here is what I'm hearing - a LOT of cliché guitar work, a lot of nihilist lyrics that seem to be more about nihilism than even having any kind of coherent theme. I start thinking about what music I heard the last time I walked by Hot Topic in my local mall... that is what I'm hearing on this album. Going back and listening to previous releases by the band, they definitely have hints of the same observations I'm making now, but they've taken it to the next level without even the effort to create something that isn't an unintentional parody of the genre. The album isn't painful to listen to, exactly, but it doesn't do anything to make it noteworthy, either. On the positive side, the mixing and production aren't horrible, and with a little less compression it would almost be exceptionally well mixed.
Lyrics — 6
Vincent Bennett does his vocals in metalcore/deathcore style, which to a large extent takes the individuality out of the vocal performance. As far as it goes, he almost has a generic type of sound even amongst a genre of very "same" vocals. The backing vocals provided by the rest of the band do a lot to add an interesting layer to what's going on during the album, but not enough to make me enjoy the vocals. The lyrical content of the album is so negative and cliché that it actually begins to wear on me after a while. As an example, from their single "Cauterizer": "I saw the sun collapse upon itself/ there is no use, don't cry for help/ there is no solace here/ run in terror/ hide in fear/ we are all marked for death/ fight off the swarm as you struggle to stay warm/ no mercy for you and no time left to mourn/ forever dusk/ as you choke on toxic dust/ struggle to survive/ no one is lucky to be alive/ as we all disconnect from the sun we ingest/ arranged to deploy/ equipped to destroy/ we were born to be unloved/ let the seas run red with blood/ sorrow/ hope and pray for no tomorrow/ it doesn't have to be like this/ blink your eyes you don't exist/ the earth will swallow us whole/ we are the orphans of a deathbed mother/ when the night took her final breath/ beneath the gloom of pestilence will suffer/ continue on into the arms of death/ surrender to the shroud/ no warning no countdown/ all will burn beneath the shadow of the cloud/ surrender to the shroud." Really, the lyrics from any song on the album could be the lyrics of any other song on the album.
Overall Impression — 6
If you're an existing fan of The Acacia Strain, then the album is probably worth checking out - but mediocre -core metal is so abundant that it is hardly worth the time it takes to listen. If I had to name my favorite song I would have to go with "Send Help." If I picked my "least favorite" track it would be "Holy Walls of the Vatican" because the lyrics seem immature and the songwriter can't decide if they're an unbeliever or if they "Worship the beast." Pick one, man, and stick to your story.