The Christmas/New Year period is already a dull time on the new music front as people take holidays and blow their money on frivolous items in the hope that they can make a member of their family that they never see happy.
A few years back artists tried a different approach: the surprise release. A risky move to say the least, if people aren’t aware that you are releasing new music, are they going to purchase or stream it? Album releases generally have a decent lead time that allows fans to pre-order various versions of a bands release, while the band or record label release a few tracks to build hype in the hope of recouping on their art and investment. So like so many others, I was surprised when this album slid its way into my earphones on release day as an unexpected late Christmas gift.
The track list gives away a big clue to the fact that this is a concept album, something that piques my interest because The Acacia Strain has managed to successfully give that idea a solid nudge without ever quite pushing the idea fully. Opening quietly, Our slowly builds up in the opening minute before the band’s deathcore roots shine through as the track rages to a crescendo before dipping back into an uneasy quiet. Only goes straight for the throat before dipping into the same experimentation as the opener.
Experimentation is the name of the game with this release and as the album presses on, this becomes more obvious as The Acacia Strain push their sound to the depths of doom, vocal samples adding a haunting atmosphere with Was or the nine-minute run time of the final track Names that is 1/3 of the total album.
This is the sound of a much maligned deathcore unit pushing themselves to a musical place they have previously only hinted at, a pushing of limits that may only see them further distanced and maligned in equal measure throughout the elitist end of the heavy music spectrum. Simply put, if this was released by some unknown band, it would pass the grade as a great combination of death, doom, and sludge wrapped up in a story about how evil finds its way through the world, and this band deserve the credit for the effort that has gone into this. Start your year off on the right foot and wake our neighbours up with this.