Sound — 9
On a recent press release for Acacia Strain's latest album Wormwood, there was one comment that stood out regarding the Massachusetts band's ability to embody anger. Certainly vocalist Vincent Bennett seems to be one pissed off individual with every vitriolic phrase he utters, but that aspect of the Acacia Strain shouldn't take away from the other unbelievable elements to the 12 new tracks. While the core songwriting is strong throughout, it is the forward-thinking guitar work of Daniel DL Laskeiwitz that takes Wormwood to a whole other level of creativity. What you'll notice from the opening track Beast to the sludgy goodness of the instrumental closer Tactical Nuke is the astoundingly effective guitar tones. The sounds seem deeper and meatier than ever before, and apparently there is a reason behind it all. Laskeiwitz experimented with 8-string guitars on Wormwood this time around, adding a whole new dimension to the usual drop tuning you might hear on metal records these days. Laskeiwitz doesn't necessarily deliver the typical riffage, but instead uses his skills in a more cinematic fashion. Wormwood certainly incorporates plenty of what you might expect in a deathcore sound, whether it be the guttural groans courtesy of Bennett or double bass pedal accents that are used sparingly (making their effective more intense) by Kevin Boutot. While there are tracks like Ramirez that are driven by their aggressive nature alone, the bulk of the tracks on Wormwood have plenty of interesting approach to song arrangement. In pretty much every single one you'll hear Laskeiwitz's bizarrely wonderful effects that range from sounding celestial to diabolic. Highlights include Jonestown, The Carpathian, and the groaning Tactical Nuke.
Lyrics — 8
By simply reading the lyrics alone, you may indeed agree with the comment that this is one band that does indeed embody anger. Bennett doesn't dance around a topic with generic ideas, instead goes right for the vein. In The Carpathian he sings, I am the white horse that death rode in on; I drove the first nail in the cross; Assume the worst and pray for the best; We are all the antichrist. Earlier in The Hills Have Eyes, Bennett immediately flings insults at one unfortunate soul (I can't take your fucking faces; Cut one head off two grow in its place). The lyrics aren't for the fainthearted, but his vocals are indicative of that point anyway.
Overall Impression — 9
As the frontman for Acacia Strain, Bennett has a commanding presence particularly because his groaned vocals are still fairly comprehensible throughout. There's something to be said for that quality, particularly when the anger-fueled lyrics are a huge part of the message. But what really stands out amongst everything are the textured, rich guitar tones and effects that are peppered underneath each track. Laskeiwitz doesn't get chained to monotonous riffs and that makes for an unpredictable and highly satisfying listening experience on Wormwood. His use of those 8-string guitars was a wise, wise choice on his part.