Updated: Jul 27, 2020
Band: The Acacia Strain
Album: Slow Decay
Genre: Death Metal
Label: Rise Records
Location: Western MA, Connecticut
FFO: Oceano, After The Burial, Whitechapel
The Acacia Strain have been crushing the scene for almost 2 decades now. Throughout this time, they have released albums packed with brutal riffs, slugging chords, and lyrics that encompass distaste, hate, depression, and everything in between. ‘Slow Decay’ features all of the above. The production is a sound you’ve come to know and love from Acacia, with what I see to be an even darker tone than usual. There’s a certain level of not just gloom, but hopelessness that runs in the veins of these tracks, despite the glowing cover art. The quality is there as to be expected. The distorted black hole that comes through with enough clarity to not be completely washed away by how low everything can get.
If you haven’t noticed, this is the 4th year in a row that Acacia has released an album. 4 years of back to back albums. You would think they’d have exhausted all writing ideas. Well before I get into that, I haven’t always been the biggest fan of this band. They tend to be a hit or miss with me between songs/albums. Sometimes the slowness in which they can approach songs gets a little boring for me and I just want to move on to the next song. But overall, I dig them and value their sound. With that being said, this is one of my favorite albums from them, aside from their 2017 record, ‘Gravebloom’. So yes, even as they embark on their 4th album in 4 years, they are coming out strong. The #1 thing this album did for me is not leave me bored at any point like some of their other stuff has for me. They kept a good pace and switched things up often enough to keep my attention on what was going on. They still kept it heavy as ever, and made sure to hit us with the “low and slow” riffs from time to time. But also can pick up the pace with tumbling riffs like on one of my favorites ‘Chhinnamasta’. The features on here are just as great as well. One of my favorites being Courtney LaPlante from Spiritbox on the song ‘One Thousand Painful Stings’. They don’t utilize her screams but put her beautiful cleans to good use as a settling outro. Another interesting voice featured was Aaron Heard of Jesus Piece. I could tell he was going to be great from the beginning when they brought in the quicker pace with the drums. They even let him kill it during a hardcore styled breakdown. I love when a feature can fit right in instead of stick out like a sore thumb. Lyrically, it’s more of what you’d expect from them as I mentioned in the beginning. Very depressing, sorrowful, and hateful lyrics. An overall vivid description of the earth, humanity, and an even bleaker future.
Just as I’ve been blasting the mini EPs, I’m certainly going to be putting ‘Slow Decay’ into my rotation for a little while. It doesn’t leave you bored , and keeps you entertained. When I look back on these 4 years in particular, ‘Gravebloom’ remains my favorite but this album stomps the last 2. Not to say I hated them, I just couldn’t find the enjoyment for those like I did this. The writing is better all around from instruments to lyrics. Something I do think these 4 years have done though is put in stone what makes this band, The Acacia Strain. I don’t mind their past work, but when I think of them, I reflect specifically on these albums. Where, yes, I may not love everything, but they are the most solid and confident in their sound and themes.
Even after all these years, ‘Slow Decay’ comes through as a very good album from these guys. They still got it, and at this point have just mastered their sound to a T. It’s not my personal most favorite sound track after track but I can’t deny the quality in force Acacia comes at you with. They’ve always been a hit or miss here and there for me but this is without a doubt a bullseye.
Strongest Song: Chhinnamasta
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/the-acacia-strain/253042890