July 24, 2020 The Acacia Strain – Slow Decay (Album Review)
With the world seemingly on the brink of destruction at the hands of a global pandemic, it is easy to feel as if the walls are crumbling down around you. One thing that many continue to find solace in is art and its ability to thrive and persist in the midst of it all. This deconstruction was the main concept behind Metal institution, The Acacia Strain and their eighth studio album, Slow Decay.
Released on Friday, July 24th via Rise Records, Slow Decay is a grimy deposition on humanity’s fate told through vocal convulsions and Thrash precision over a series of five digital and two physical seven-inches. Together, these releases fully compose their latest creation, Slow Decay. As stated, releasing the album bit by bit was very much part of the overall concept. Vocalist Vincent Bennett explained, “We’ve done our time on earth, broken the boundaries of what reality actually is, and we’re not witnessing our collective descent into madness. Lyrically and sonically, everything reflects that. You’re getting the vision piece by piece.” The pieces fit together organically, and just when audiences were getting comfortable, they throw them off by releasing the full-length. “The idea is, ‘this can’t be real’. Maybe something happened. Maybe we’re all dead and we don’t even know it. Maybe we’re just living in some augmented reality hellscape of actual planet earth,” added Bennett.
All this said, The Acacia Strain are no strangers to macabre concepts and doom epics as they have been ripping the scene apart since 2001. The showcase of this was the band’s surprise drop in 2019 when they released the conceptual EP, It Comes In Waves, earning them some of the best accolades of the band’s career. Which leads us to Slow Decay, which is an elevation, taking the familiar grit of their early sound while incorporating a haunting new style, signaling their growth. Bennett said, “We integrated the sound of It Comes In Waves into what we normally would’ve done. Slow Decay is everything that The Acacia Strain is mashed into twelve solid songs.”
The record starts off with a mix of gnashing teeth and a crushing chug. “Feed A Pigeon Breed A Rat,” “Crippling Poison,” along with “Seeing God,” featuring Aaron Heard of Jesus Piece and Nothing, are ominous as well as brooding with guttural growls telling tales of societal norms and fighting to survive. Overall, the first few tracks serve to kick you where it hurts with bone-chilling accuracy to prepare you for what is to come.
“Solace and Serenity” and “The Lucid Dream,” featuring Jess Nyx of Mortality Rate, plunge you deeper into a sinking pit filled with dread. This line in particular from “Solace and Serenity” states, “The final sores have opened, weeping wounds, It’s worse than we were hoping, seeking doom, We built a dungeon but we locked ourselves in, Now we are the monsters dripping with sin,” hits hard as it perfectly puts into words that crushing feeling in your chest while being held down by life. Next, the lengthy titled “I breathed in the smoke deeply and it tasted like death and I smiled, ”featuring Zach Hatfield of Left Behind, as well as “Crossgates,” are hypnotic and haunting, with layered vocals and hulking beats that lull you into a delicate doom-scape.
Next, “Inverted Person” and “Chhinnamasta” come at you with violent intent. The blend of melodic influences and Doom Metal work to create an immovable force and atmospheric vibes. This is as “One Thousand Painful Stings,” completely broadened the album’s horizons, adding a new dimension of beauty with the addition of Courtney LaPlante from Spiritbox and iwrestledabearonce. Thereafter “Birds of Paradise, Birds of Prey” making its presence known in all of its monstrous glory while the grand finale, “EARTH WILL BECOME DEATH,” wraps things up like a whisper to a scream. The slow lulling grime builds up to a roaring sound composed of icy grooves and blaring vocals.
Slow Decay is a defining moment for The Acacia Strain. It shows their growth as artists while paying tribute to their upbringing. Altogether, it is a depiction of their strength and cements their place in the scene. A brilliant display of art, Cryptic Rock gives Slow Decay 4.5 out of 5 stars.