Review: The Acacia Strain Mines the Depths of Doom with Failure Will Follow


With the 2019 release of It Comes In Waves and Slow Decay a year later, The Acacia Strain began its own multiverse of madness. In one timeline, It Comes In Waves transformed the Massachusetts deathcore heavyweights into an atmospheric juggernaut of blackened doom. In the other, Slow Decay stripped the band back to its most primal hardcore machinations. Both realities benefit from great music, but once the split begins, there’s no turning back. At least that’s what it seems like with The Acacia Strain’s two new releases. Step Into The Light and Failure Will Follow further the band’s new stylistic divide. The former album revels in the band’s most vicious take on metallic hardcore, while the latter plunges head over heels into the deafening maw of sludge and doom.

This is a review of Failure Will Follow. Click here to read our thoughts on Step Into The Light.

Beyond vocal features from Ethan Lee McCarthy of Primitive Man and Full of Hell’s Dylan Walker, just look at the length of Failure Will Follow—30 minutes and three tracks. The Acacia Strain has progressed past dabbling in doom. To that effect, “Pillar of Salt” comes complete with church bells, droning open string riffs and tempos almost two slow for headbanging. This absolutely sounds like The Acacia Strain, just in a doom metal form. They even incorporate some chug-a-chug riffs to throw a fan to old school fans, but this is also a song where the spectral singing voice of iRis.EXE finds a foothold in the chugs. Rounded off by some gloomy modulations and mournful atmospheres, it’s pretty amazing to hear Vincent Bennett’s voice getting cosy in the suffocating distortion.

Considering the tour The Acacia Strain just did with FoH and PM, it’s not surprising to hear Failure Will Follow invoke some noisier, more punishing doom. What’s more surprising is how “Bog Walker” goes full Dopesmoker by repeating its central riff for three minutes before the rest of the band drops in for a skull-cracking Louisiana-style Crowbar groove. Guitarists Devin Shidaker and Mike Mulholland come through with a riff worth repeating—melodic enough to sing over, but crushing enough to contend with the most fervent of volume worshipers.

The chemistry between the band members remains on full display, as the swing-style swagger and marching chugs carry Down-esque barrel-chested singing and monstrous screams alike. They also know how to keep a song interesting for 17 minutes, stripping back to nothing but a whispered voice at the halfway point with almost mathematical precision. The dissonant chords and menacing atmosphere seamlessly build up to a final sludge metal sing-along chorus.

Hearing McCarthy and Bennett trade bars on “Basin of Vows” is awesome enough, but it’s also here where The Acacia Strain builds noticeable bridges between their deathcore roots and doom metal aspirations. One moment drops into the doom equivalent of a slamming beatdown riff, while the next settles on a dreamy post-rock interlude. Still, it’s really the songs final portion that takes the cake, as these guys combine soulful melody with decadent heaviness like they’ve been playing doom metal for decades.

Rather than try the genre on for size, Failure Will Follow uses doom metal to realise new and exciting facets of a band over 20 years into their career. Having put in work for so long, The Acacia Strain has earned the right to do whatever they want. Luckily, they’ve chosen to fashion this freedom as a springboard into new realms of heavy music.

Multiverse theories aside, any state of consciousness with two Strains of Acacia to enjoy is a state worth staying in. Click here to read our thoughts on read our thoughts on Failure Will Follow.

The Acacia Strain’s Failure Will Follow comes out on May 12 and is available for preorder via Rise Records.

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