As I’ve been listening to The Acacia Strain’s sixth album, Death is the Only Mortal, these past few weeks, I’ve been repeatedly asking myself one question: “Why do I like The Acacia Strain so much when I hate so many other bands that, on the surface at least, are doing more or less the same thing?” Here’s what I came up with:

  • THEY DON’T JUST SOUND LIKE A WALL OF DIARRHEA: The Acacia Strain’s riffs may not be the most technical on the planet, but they’re catchy, and, just as important, the songs have structure and the production has, y’know, production. Sometimes, as during the chorus for “Brain Death,” they’ll even — gasp! — introduce just a little bit of melody to the proceedings (but don’t worry, there are no clean vocals on the album). Which is to say, The Acacia Strain’s music is just a total plateau of meaningless noise, which cannot be said for a lot of their deathcore peers.
  • VINCENT BENNETT IS IN ON THE JOKE: I actually have no idea if this is true or not, but it’s almost impossible for me to imagine that he is unaware of the (admittedly very bleak) humor inherent in his bluntly neanderthal lyrics (from “Time and Death and God”: “I don’t fear death/ Because I refuse to believe in life”) — especially since it’s always been clear that the band has a strong sense of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously. Contrast this with, say, someone will write a song about a fucking video game character as though he were a spiritual deity with no sense of irony whatsoever, and your appreciation for Bennett will grow exponentially.
  • THEIR SOUND IS EVOLVING: It’s not as though The Acacia Strain are exactly Queen or whatever, but Death is the Only Mortal doesn’t sound exactly like …And Life is Very Long, either, and this ongoing variance in their sound makes them a hundred times more interesting than the majority of other modern hardcore and deathcore bands, who seem content to make the same album over and over and over again. I generally think of The Acacia Strain as Hatebreed if Hatebreed listened to less Slayer and more Morbid Angel, but on Death, The Acacia Strain display a love of Meshuggah that hasn’t really been present in the past. And Meshuggah is just about the most-common influence on metal bands today, unlike most djent acts, The Acacia Strain don’t feel a need to indulge in a silly amount of gloss; if anything, their goal actually seems to be to sound uglier than Meshuggah.
So, yeah, Death is the Only Mortal ain’t perfect, and you definitely need to be in the right mood (e.g., “I HATE FUCKING EVERYTHING AND JUST WANNA CURB STOMP SOMEONE”) to appreciate it. But it’s a really, really fun album, and further demonstrates why The Acacia Strain stand out amongst the deathcore pack.

(three-and-a-half outta five horns)


The Acacia Strain’s Death is the Only Mortal comes out October 9th on Rise Records. You can stream the track to “The Mouth of the River” here, and pre-order the album here.

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