It’s hard to believe that The Acacia Strain are now classified as “old-school”, but they’ve been assaulting our eardrums for over two decades, and it’s heartening that time hasn’t blunted their power. If anything, they’ve become more brutal as they honed their sonic attack, and latest album Step Into The Light offers an abject lesson in terror. Serving 10 tracks of the very best metalcore/deathcore mix, this album is a speaker-metal, and one that sets the standard for others to follow.
Attesting to their sense of urgency, The Acacia Strain don’t waste time on fancy introductions or other such nonsense and get straight down to business with ‘Flourishing’. Containing one of the heaviest riffs known to man, it swings with a sludgy riff that resembles a huge wrecking ball. Like an anchor attached to a drowning man, it drags the listener down to delirious depths, and it offers little in the way of redemption. Aided by an expansive production (courtesy of Randy Leboeuf), Step Into The Light creates a feeling of something so vast and immovable, it can barely be comprehended. It’s an ocean stretching towards the horizon, a brutalist monstrosity, or a nowhere ending, leaden sky, and it conjures up all sorts of existentialist horror…and all within the first song!
Largely forsaking solos in favour of a riff heavy attack makes The Acacia Strain a dangerous beast. Yet, Step Into The Light features plenty of interplay from guitarists Mike Mulholland and Devin Shidaker that makes it a multifaceted listen. This pairing provide lots of light and shade, and is responsible for the band’s powerful dynamic, but the whole group lock in tightly, with drummer Kevin Boutot hitting the skins particularly hard, and when supplemented by bassist Griffin Landa, the two combine to ensure that the rhythm section packs the requisite punch. Then, when you factor in Vincent Bennett’s deathlike growl, you have a potent mix as all this maelstrom suggests.
With only two of the songs cracking the three minute mark, things on Step Into The Light tend to veer towards the succinct, but this albums brevity is also its strength. The Acacia Strain serve up a sound that’s devoid of any filler or excess fat with cuts such as ‘Calf’s Blood’ and ‘Open Wound’ smoking like fresh kill. The lyrical focus on themes such as misanthropy and nihilism only add to the overarching feel of oppression, all of which make Step Into The Light a brutally heavy album for these brutally heavy times.
- Calf’s Blood
- Fresh Bones
- Teeth Of The Cursed Dog
- Open Wound
- Is This Really Happening
- Untended Graves
- None Of Us Asked To Be Here