Heavy but overly repetitive

The Acacia Strain are known for playing some of the heaviest death/doom/hardcore-tinged metal know to man, and on this album they launch in perfectly with ‘Worthless’, beginning with what sounds like something suited to ‘Observer’ off their last album Coma Witch before that gravity heavy riff comes in and crushes your skull. Best opener the band has done in years.

The Acacia Strain has been divisive due to the sometimes dodgy lyrics of vocalist Vincent Bennet and the repetitive nature of their music. That is again in effect on this album. But from the outset, the band also play faster than they have in some time. The opening verses of both ‘Plague Doctor’ and ‘Bitter Pill’ are evidence of this, yet also greatly expose the biggest problem with this album: it feels highly repetitive and, as a consequence, lazy. It’s like everything the band has done since ‘Wormwood’ but without the creative darkness that made parts of the interim albums as good, particularly whatever it is that is driving ‘Observer’ and ‘Time&Death&God’ from Death Is The Only Mortal.

This isn’t to say that the album isn’t enjoyable, which brings me to a strange paradox as a reviewer. This album flows on thematically and musically from its predecessors, and it sure has its high points and the brutal heaviness the band is well known for, such as the title track and ‘Worthless’, and every song has parts heavy enough to crush rock with drummer Kevin Boutot often driving the songs, instead of the heavily down tuned guitars. But it is hard to shake the feeling that the band has just used left over tracks from the previous album, particularly obvious on closer ‘Cold Gloom’.

I don’t know what I expected, but with a new guitarist in Tom Smith perhaps I just hoped for a little bit of a creative direction and fire that they displayed early on in their career. If you want heavy then The Acacia Strain have it in spades on this album, but if you are looking for something that you will keep coming back too, you may have to skip this.

1. Worthless
2. Plague Doctor
3. Bitter Pill
4. Big Sleep
5. Gravebloom
6. Abyssal Depths
7. Model Citizen
8. Calloused Mouth
9. Dark Harvest
10. Walled City
11. Cold Gloom