Wormwood review by The Acacia Strain

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  • Released: Jul 20, 2010
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 7 (71 votes)
The Acacia Strain: Wormwood
4

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.

118 comments sorted by best / new / date

    pol315
    Personally, I'm a big TAS fan, but this album lets me down a little. I know alot of deathcore is generic, and just meant to be heavy... but this is a little TOO generic this time around. Continent and The Dead Walk were better albums. This album has some varied technicality, but the sitch to 8 strings makes it less aparrent, and i think their switch wasn't necessarily a good move. They do sound alot heavier with it, but they also lost what they used to have. I still somewhat enjoy the album, but the others were better IMO.
    AngryGoldfish
    mr_metal121 wrote: true that, I see myself as a more traditional guitarist, 6 strings, 24 Frets, standard tunings, you can stay heavy and be in a higher tuning, sometimes it seems like a dick measuring contest, lower tuning the better, which is hardly true, well in my opinion anyway
    I agree that bands can be very heavy in standard tuning. But people have this misconception that anyone who uses seven / eight string guitars - or simply tunes very low - want to compete with these other guys for heaviness. When really, all they want to be is 'their version of heavy'. And sometimes, they just want to extend the range of the guitar beyond the limits of the normal six.
    heartagram256
    iH8CarAccidents wrote: If you like this kind of style but would prefer some more impressive guitar work, I would suggest listening to In the Midst of Lions. Not very well known, but definitely worth a listen.
    Hell yeah dude! I saw them live a few weeks ago. They KILLED it. Their new stuff's pretty great so far too.
    Chrisisprowut wrote: If Vincent was to read this thread, he would rip your fu*king head off. DT has to be the most boring of MDC. At the gates and old In Flames blows that out of the water.
    I agree. However, you can't forget Children Of Bodom.
    heartagram256
    Shredder Guitar wrote: This album hits hard, and I hate how people peg them as just another "shitty deathcore band." I just call them metal. Because they're angry, hard, and heavy.
    Finally. Someone sees things the way I do. Why does every single modern badnd have to be labeled as "(insert random word here)core? Deathcore, metalcore, grindcore, blah, blah, blah. The only real "core" subgenre is Hardcore but it's a basic subgenre of METAL. It's all ****ing METAL.
    Drift king77 wrote: Fuck. Will you underage faggots just calm down and listen to the music? If it doesn't appeal to you, then don't listen to it. Simple enough? I really liked this album, i love how they incorporated 8 strings into their music. That's just my opinion though.
    Again, someone that shares my opinion. If you don't like it, don't listen to it. And if you don't listen to it, that gives you no reason to get on sites like this and talk shit. People that read these reviews are generally either 1. People that like the given band. Or 2. People that may have heard of the band, but never listened to them, and are interested in them. That being said, I think it's safe to say that the people that read these reviews are generally people who don't give a flying **** about your shit talking. Enough said.
    Mysticlink
    Hells.Mascot wrote: Indeed. A lower tuning than standard isn't needed to create evil sounding, heavy-as-**** music ; Opeth are proof of that (Heir Apparent, Master's Apprentices, A Fair Judgement, etc.).
    Just to add to that, Winds of Plague plays a lot of stuff in standard. Some in Drop D. And I'm listening to the album right now and it's not that bad.
    BwareDWare94
    Indeed. A lower tuning than standard isn't needed to create evil sounding, heavy-as-**** music; Opeth are proof of that (Heir Apparent, Master's Apprentices, A Fair Judgement, etc.). I have not yet listened to this album, but I can say that The Acacia Strain are one of the better bands out there that do this kind of music - in fact, they are innovators of it; as EpiExplorer is unaware, The Acacia Strain have been pushing the genre (and vehemently rejecting the 'deathcore' label) since their inception in 2000. It's true that Dark Tranquility are also pioneers of their genre, melodic death metal (and are actually one the Gothenburg scene OG mother ****ers), and have been creating consistently good music since I was born. Though their musicianship is probably more laudable than Acacia Strain's, one cannot compare the two - stop trying to compare one band to another, tit for tat. But I do agree that something like old In Flames or At the Gates' "Slaughter of the Soul" has the fangs that Dark Tranquility have never shown - DT's music has no snarl, no iniquitous grin. As for 8 strings... it's not a trend, as far as I'm concerned. If you're getting the tone that suits your band and its musical direction out of an 8-string, more power to you!
    The Acacia Strain is garbage bin run of the mill deathcore. The mere fact that they deny the label is hilarious. I'd rather listen to Whitechapel than this garbage. At least they have some talent. Though I admit Vincent's chorus on "Murder Sermon" is pretty. DT is not about snarl. DT is about making an impact on the listener through the little intricacies that they use instrumentally and through Stanne's vocals. They're heavy as shit on albums like Character and Damage Done and then they have mellower albums like Projector and Haven. The band is downright phenomenal. No 2 albums sound the same and the sound of each is drastically different. C'mon man!
    TurboCracka
    Hells.Mascot : mr_metal121 wrote: Indeed. A lower tuning than standard isn't needed to create evil sounding, heavy-as-**** music; Opeth are proof of that (Heir Apparent, Master's Apprentices, A Fair Judgement, etc.). I have not yet listened to this album, but I can say that The Acacia Strain are one of the better bands out there that do this kind of music - in fact, they are innovators of it; as EpiExplorer is unaware, The Acacia Strain have been pushing the genre (and vehemently rejecting the 'deathcore' label) since their inception in 2000. It's true that Dark Tranquility are also pioneers of their genre, melodic death metal (and are actually one the Gothenburg scene OG mother ****ers), and have been creating consistently good music since I was born. Though their musicianship is probably more laudable than Acacia Strain's, one cannot compare the two - stop trying to compare one band to another, tit for tat. But I do agree that something like old In Flames or At the Gates' "Slaughter of the Soul" has the fangs that Dark Tranquility have never shown - DT's music has no snarl, no iniquitous grin. As for 8 strings... it's not a trend, as far as I'm concerned. If you're getting the tone that suits your band and its musical direction out of an 8-string, more power to you!
    I pretty much agree with everything you wrote except when you say that dark tranquility doesn't have any "fangs". These days I guess your right what with the techno keyboards and all but "The Gallery" is a lot more viscous than anything In Flames ever put out.
    travislausch
    EpiExplorer wrote: 8 strings do not make it technical. STOP TRYING SO HARD.
    That's funny, because I read the entire review twice over, and I never saw anything related to playing 8-strings as making it more "technical". I'm not a fan of this band by a long shot, but I can tell you that it doesn't matter how many strings your guitar has. You could remove all but two and still blow some minds. I don't know what kind of troll elitist logic one must have in order to come up with that determination. Hate the player, not the gear.
    ExOblivione
    BwareDWare94 wrote: Some of you people are actually tossing around the idea that The Acacia Strain are better than Dark Tranquillity. LOL Learn your shit and then comment. DT is clearly the superior band. By far. Better vocalist (perhaps the best in the business). Much better lyrics. Better musicians. Better songwriting and composition. Better music. It's not even an opinion. It's fact.
    This. Mr. Stanne is not only one of the best harsh vocalists, but one of the best clean (And DT hasn't even showcased his whole range, he did start out in Hammerfall, though Projector displays some of the best clean vocals I've ever heard on a metal album)and he is the best frontman I've ever seen live beyond Bruce Dickinson. Not to mention he's an awesome guy, he even hugged me after the show. Musically, DT is on a whole different plane than these guys, you just can't compare stuff like Misery's Crown, or going back, Edenspring, to this chuggachuggawhee crap. The whole formula is chug+rip off Cannibal Corpse+Rip of a Swede+ChugChugChug
    NakedBassist
    Hells.Mascot wrote: mr_metal121 wrote: AngryGoldfish wrote: mr_metal121 wrote: 8 strings are quickly becoming the fad for metal obviously....hopefully the need for more strings will diminish shortly so the bassists can stay aroundI think the problem lies in the incorrect usage of the seventh and eighth strings, not because it's got eight strings. I mean, eight is better than six, it's just math. No seriously, I think there are some excellent guitarists out there using eight strings, not to combat the bass player and to overshadow him, but to add layers and depth. My 2c. Checked true that, I see myself as a more traditional guitarist, 6 strings, 24 Frets, standard tunings, you can stay heavy and be in a higher tuning, sometimes it seems like a dick measuring contest, lower tuning the better, which is hardly true, well in my opinion anyway Indeed. A lower tuning than standard isn't needed to create evil sounding, heavy-as-**** music; Opeth are proof of that (Heir Apparent, Master's Apprentices, A Fair Judgement, etc.). I have not yet listened to this album, but I can say that The Acacia Strain are one of the better bands out there that do this kind of music - in fact, they are innovators of it; as EpiExplorer is unaware, The Acacia Strain have been pushing the genre (and vehemently rejecting the 'deathcore' label) since their inception in 2000. It's true that Dark Tranquility are also pioneers of their genre, melodic death metal (and are actually one the Gothenburg scene OG mother ****ers), and have been creating consistently good music since I was born. Though their musicianship is probably more laudable than Acacia Strain's, one cannot compare the two - stop trying to compare one band to another, tit for tat. But I do agree that something like old In Flames or At the Gates' "Slaughter of the Soul" has the fangs that Dark Tranquility have never shown - DT's music has no snarl, no iniquitous grin. As for 8 strings... it's not a trend, as far as I'm concerned. If you're getting the tone that suits your band and its musical direction out of an 8-string, more power to you!
    THIS. THIS THIS THIS.
    Tallman
    I don't think of The Acacia Strain as innovators, or incredible song writers. But that has never really been the point with them. It IS just a visceral listening experience; it's about the timbres and the effect. No one would call Tactical Nuke a fantastic song, but that would be missing the point of it. I can still listen to that song, and still be enamoured with the tones and sheer scale of it.
    huevos
    This band is just too predictable and boring. There's no new ground being broke (which is quite the redundancy, given the nature of metalcore). On top of that, the "songs" just drag on and on, with virtually no difference between these songs. You start with the intro, a verse, breakdown, verse, maybe a chorus (or a chorus that is a breakdown), verse, bridge (another breakdown, of course), chorus (oh god) and outro. Insert minimally interesting licks at will. Breakdowns are mandatory. Coherency is not.
    mr_metal121
    bigmike29 wrote: true that, I see myself as a more traditional guitarist, 6 strings, 24 Frets, standard tunings, you can stay heavy and be in a higher tuning, sometimes it seems like a dick measuring contest, lower tuning the better, which is hardly true, well in my opinion anyway Agreed! My band used to play in straight up Drop D, and it sounded killer, we used that tuning for the first 6 years we were together! But now we use drop B, I dont even know why, we just like the sound better, but when we played in Drop D, we made it sound heavy as shit! You dont need more strings or lower tunings to make your self sound heavier!
    true, well if it suits your style and your needs that's fine, I've never gone lower than C standard 90% of the time I stick to D standard or Drop C and that's fine for me to get some heavy riffs out, yet still be high enough so I don't get a muggy clean sound
    duncang
    Checked.
    BwareDWare94 wrote: No disrespect man, but what's wrong with being correct?
    Nothing, but you're being a prat! Relax with the 'I am correct, I am superior' schtick, cause sooner or later someone from the next tier of prattery will come and tell you that some avant-garde band you can't stand is better than Dark Tranquillity in every way. And that's not opinion, that's fact. No, wait, it ain't fact at all!
    Drift king77
    Fuck. Will you underage faggots just calm down and listen to the music? If it doesn't appeal to you, then don't listen to it. Simple enough? I really liked this album, i love how they incorporated 8 strings into their music. That's just my opinion though.
    TragedyGuide
    all i'm saying is that there's no way anything this band ever does is worth a 9 out of 10. 10 is perfect. the beatles are perfect. you're telling me the sound and impression of this album is only a point off of sgt. pepper's? and the lyrics are only 2 points off? come on people.
    iH8CarAccidents
    I actually liked this Album. It wasn't as good as Continent in my opinion, but a pretty good effort. I barely noticed the change to 8 strings however. I don't think it really affected their overall sound as they generally stay on the lower end of things. I also agree that it doesn't take a low tuning to sound heavy. Winds of Plague is a deathcore band that plays in standard for crap's sake, and it still sounds heavy. I like the Acacia strain more for their overall mood and tone more than their musical ability. That's not to say that they're slouches. Some of their songs are pretty impressive. If you like this kind of style but would prefer some more impressive guitar work, I would suggest listening to In the Midst of Lions. Not very well known, but definitely worth a listen.
    kphizzy101
    This album is GREAT! I think its their heaviest to date and the lyrics are so demeaning \m/
    JunKDepot
    after listening to this album, i can honestly say this. the sound production is pretty boss. Nice, rich guitar tone, drums have stellar production, the vocals are nicely done, and the bass is...the weak point. as for the music it self, there are a few moments of brilliance, but alot of the time it just mashes together, making a bland heavy string of songs. and the album closer...the intro is amazing....everything else is horrible. I had high hopes for this album, alas, they've been dashed horribly.
    bigmike29
    true that, I see myself as a more traditional guitarist, 6 strings, 24 Frets, standard tunings, you can stay heavy and be in a higher tuning, sometimes it seems like a dick measuring contest, lower tuning the better, which is hardly true, well in my opinion anyway
    Agreed! My band used to play in straight up Drop D, and it sounded killer, we used that tuning for the first 6 years we were together! But now we use drop B, I dont even know why, we just like the sound better, but when we played in Drop D, we made it sound heavy as shit! You dont need more strings or lower tunings to make your self sound heavier!
    Gregray88
    Do you know how shitty this album would sound if they didn't use 8 strings? Now do you understand why they use them?
    ToolCreedence
    All this 8-string guitar talk reminds me, why is there no Danza III review up yet? It came out a few weeks before this album.
    BwareDWare94
    duncang wrote: BwareDWare94 wrote: Some of you people are actually tossing around the idea that The Acacia Strain are better than Dark Tranquillity. LOL Learn your shit and then comment. DT is clearly the superior band. By far. Better vocalist (perhaps the best in the business). Much better lyrics. Better musicians. Better songwriting and composition. Better music. It's not even an opinion. It's fact. Don't be that guy. Delta_Mike wrote: I used this album to slap my sister. Be this guy.
    No disrespect man, but what's wrong with being correct?
    benx3000
    This albums okay... still to much chugging for my tastes, maybe even more-so than their old albums.
    ianaimo
    Vinushka wrote: XxRustInPeacexX wrote: Vinushka wrote: Woo! More "something"-core, and all the trolling that accompanies it. This is new and exciting! They're part of the deathcore genre, but that doesnt make them just another deathcore band they're ****ing amazing. That's like saying Any rock band is "Just another rock band, wooo!" or any pop band is "just anohter pop band wooo!", Yes, except X-core is this decades Nu Metal. Everyone's doing it
    It is more popular now almost like 90's-2000's nu-metal. but at least its better then nu-metal. A LOT better.
    FightEveryone
    Composition, structure and melody is awesome. I love this band, but I have to say, the lyrics are appalling on this album.
    98Timberwolf
    Gave this band a second try today and I must say my opinion has completely changed. The album seems very atmospheric to me, and the sheer aggression in the vocals is somewhat captivating. It's a lot different from the Dillinger Escape Plan brand of aggression I'm used to, but I'm starting to like it. I still think I'd be bored out of my mind if I listened to the whole thing at once though.
    Mitochondria9
    I like Wormwood, I know DL, Ive hung out with him at every single show they played in West Palm Beach before Ray's Downtown Blues closed and I respect him and Vincent. I like the band, alot. That said, The Dead Walk is by far my favorite album, and Wormwood, while very good, and I like Vincent's mangry lyrics, Wormwood isnt zomg amazing. Its just good for what it is.
    jimmicore17
    and
    tancanada wrote: EpiExplorer wrote: 8 strings do not make it technical. STOP TRYING SO HARD. Also, the D word has been mentioned, so no thankyou. Its still boring chugchug continuous breakdown spazzy teenage dance music. on literally EVERY SINGLE ALBUM REVIEW on this site on any bands that have breakdowns, you're always wahwahwah this isnt technical. Grow up dude.
    and seriously, EpiExplorer, if you're so keen on your own music, go listen to that. or better, go make it. if you don't like some thing, no-one is making you listen to it, and your 'constructive feedback' is well unneeded in modern society. to sum up, don't like it, go somewhere else. don't like this comment, go eat a bag of dicks and stop complaining.
    IfDaysEnd
    great breakdowns here and there sounds like a slowed down version of meshuggah which isn't bad in any way...
    thoraxe
    Geeze people, quit being so butthurt over a band using an 8 string. If that's what they want to use, so be it. End of story.
    jimmicore17
    Hells.Mascot wrote: mr_metal121 wrote: AngryGoldfish wrote: mr_metal121 wrote: 8 strings are quickly becoming the fad for metal obviously....hopefully the need for more strings will diminish shortly so the bassists can stay aroundI think the problem lies in the incorrect usage of the seventh and eighth strings, not because it's got eight strings. I mean, eight is better than six, it's just math. No seriously, I think there are some excellent guitarists out there using eight strings, not to combat the bass player and to overshadow him, but to add layers and depth. My 2c. Checked true that, I see myself as a more traditional guitarist, 6 strings, 24 Frets, standard tunings, you can stay heavy and be in a higher tuning, sometimes it seems like a dick measuring contest, lower tuning the better, which is hardly true, well in my opinion anyway Indeed. A lower tuning than standard isn't needed to create evil sounding, heavy-as-**** music; Opeth are proof of that (Heir Apparent, Master's Apprentices, A Fair Judgement, etc.). I have not yet listened to this album, but I can say that The Acacia Strain are one of the better bands out there that do this kind of music - in fact, they are innovators of it; as EpiExplorer is unaware, The Acacia Strain have been pushing the genre (and vehemently rejecting the 'deathcore' label) since their inception in 2000. It's true that Dark Tranquility are also pioneers of their genre, melodic death metal (and are actually one the Gothenburg scene OG mother ****ers), and have been creating consistently good music since I was born. Though their musicianship is probably more laudable than Acacia Strain's, one cannot compare the two - stop trying to compare one band to another, tit for tat. But I do agree that something like old In Flames or At the Gates' "Slaughter of the Soul" has the fangs that Dark Tranquility have never shown - DT's music has no snarl, no iniquitous grin. As for 8 strings... it's not a trend, as far as I'm concerned. If you're getting the tone that suits your band and its musical direction out of an 8-string, more power to you!
    this man (goldfish?) is my new favourite person. period.
    travislausch
    ExOblivione wrote: Gregray88 wrote: Do you know how shitty this album would sound if they didn't use 8 strings? Just as shitty?
    Exactly. It has nothing to do with the gear. It has everything to do with the band using the gear to create tepid, boring "metal".
    Ackj
    I'm a fan of TAS, and looked forward to this album quite a bit. I'm sort of let down however. Vincent is a great vocalist and lyricist, but when you have an awesome phrase, then chant it 10x over and over, its not that awesome anymore. This seemed to be the case in a lot of the songs. Also, the songs seemed to lack the groove of older albums, and especially the textures that continent had. Tactical nuke was especially bland, which is a major disappoint when you compare it to their previous instrumental closer, The Behemoth.
    BwareDWare94
    FearOfTheDuck wrote: LessThanLuke wrote: Low doesn't equal heavy. It's dull, it's ****ing boring, it doesnt' do anything that a thousand other arrogant hardcore pricks do. Ugh. Please don't confuse Hardcore with Death Metal, thanks I don't know any "deathcore kids" as they say, i know many people who listen to it and play it. But are open minded people who play and listen to "proper" rock, metal and punk. Its just death metal to them, they're not genre conscious morons like a lot of people on this site.
    Are you attempting to refer to The Acacia Strain as Death Metal? Ha! Now...explain the joke?
    elleild
    heartagram256 wrote: Finally. Someone sees things the way I do. Why does every single modern badnd have to be labeled as "(insert random word here)core? Deathcore, metalcore, grindcore, blah, blah, blah. The only real "core" subgenre is Hardcore but it's a basic subgenre of METAL. It's all ****ing METAL.
    Hardcore isnt a subgenre of metal, its a subgenre of punk.
    darthzedd
    Well, metal has officially made it to 8 strings. yeah, other bands used them before, but now it's a trend. Ion Dissonance, Whitechapel, Danza, and now the Acacia Strain all use 8 strings. Metal has hit it's lowest ****ing point.(tuning-wise that is). What next? personally, I think 8 strings should be left for GOOD guitarists that actually still use all the strings and not just the top two.(Tosin Abasi, Chris Letchford, Bulb). Not The Acacia Strain!
    FearOfTheDuck
    LessThanLuke wrote: Low doesn't equal heavy. It's dull, it's ****ing boring, it doesnt' do anything that a thousand other arrogant hardcore pricks do. Ugh.
    Please don't confuse Hardcore with Death Metal, thanks I don't know any "deathcore kids" as they say, i know many people who listen to it and play it. But are open minded people who play and listen to "proper" rock, metal and punk. Its just death metal to them, they're not genre conscious morons like a lot of people on this site.
    duncang
    EpiExplorer wrote: Detuned0 wrote: I thought The Acacia Strain's other stuff was decent, but I like this new album the most. I might be an obsessed Meshuggah fan, but Wormwood to me sounds like The Acacia Strain's take on Catch 33. Made my day, really. Just lulz..
    Go away soon Checked
    StringsOfSeven
    I think DL should have used a baritone 6 string instead of an 8 string. It just doesn't seem like he has fully grasped the range of the instrument. There are several areas in the album where I think "there could have been a cool octave harmony here" or "why didn't they make this more dynamic?". Maybe they should have had Jack play a second 8 string instead of bass, because he's barely audible on this album. Every time they go into a drop F breakdown or transition segment the bass disappears from the mix entirely. Listen to Jonestown, the only time the bass has any definition is when he's playing the guitar's rhythm part during the chorus.
    EpiExplorer
    Detuned0 wrote: I thought The Acacia Strain's other stuff was decent, but I like this new album the most. I might be an obsessed Meshuggah fan, but Wormwood to me sounds like The Acacia Strain's take on Catch 33.
    Made my day, really. Just lulz..