I remember distinctly loading up previews from Dr. Acula's last album Slander and despising it. Time went on and I slowly forgot about the band but their album came up on a spotify playlist and I decided to give it a spin, to affirm my hatred for it. However I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the album. I'm not sure If I heard bad previews, or if I was just having a bad day, but Slander while not being anything particularly ground breaking, and definitely not flawless, was a fun album. Recently though, Victory records sent me their new album Nation and I was glad to see they have grown a bit from their last album.
On Slander Dr. Acula was a 7 piece deathcore band. Which, for almost any band is quite an excessive number of members, and they didn't really seem to benefit from the fact that they had so many members. They lost their keyboardist and thankfully were not eager to fill the position because I fill like the lack of a keyboard player made them focus more on the other instruments and honestly this album feels less poppy and 'brocore' and more straight deathcore. Now I don't want to place all the blame on the keyboardist, because the lyrics last time around and overall feel of the album tended more towards angsty facebook relationship stuff. This album takes a less comical tone and deals with some anti-government themes, which is a nice change.
I also didn't realize until this album that the band employs two vocalists. I had assumed that they were layering vocals which is a really common technique, but it's good to know that if you did see the band live you'd get to hear the vocals as they sound on record. The vocals aren't really anything to write home about, they tend to be a good combination of high screams and low growls, but it works well and they help add to the more aggressive nature this album has.compared to Slander.
Guitar wise I feel they've matured a little bit. There's a noticeable lead guitar throughout many of the songs, it's not just chugging riffs and breakdowns all the time. (although there are plenty of breakdowns to be found here.) While I was happy to hear the improvement in lead guitars, it does seem to get drown out at times by both the drums and rhythm guitars.
The album overall is a fast pace piece of work, but the track 'Robot People From Hell' stands out because it's slower, more atmospheric and feels more epic overall. It's a nice change of pace halfway through the album and one of the more notable songs.
I'd say the drums have improved a tad over the last album. They do provide a solid backbone to each song, while having a few moments in the spotlight here and there. The drums were probably my favorite aspect of Slander and they're one of the better parts of this album.
Overall Nation is a step forward for the band. I'm glad they are stepping away from the party sound and more towards straight deathcore. This isn't album of the year, but it's the best album this band has put out thus far.
The album is set to release next Tuesday June 19th. If you are a fan of the band or deathcore, check it out, you'll likely enjoy it!