The Acacia Strain are back. I have been itching for this album for a while, and now that it is here I can say with assurance that this album is about as close to everything I wanted it to be as it could be. It is a continuation of their already well-established sound with improvements across the board.
Now I should get out first that Wormwood is my favorite album by these guys. It is the epitome of their sound for me, which is by their own definition ‘pure hate’. Now it is pretty well known that these guys do not take themselves too seriously, which is made clear from their comical attitude in interviews and other videos, and also pretty clear from Vincent Bennett’s over the top angry lyrics. You might say that their goal is to be the embodiment of the stereotype of metal, which is loud and angry, both of which they do very well. Now do not confuse not taking themselves seriously with not being good musicians. The thing that makes The Acacia Strain differ from the flood of generic breakdown focused bands is their writing ability, and while there are breakdowns a plenty in The Acacia Strain’s music, it is blended with an overall sense of melody, and combined with a fantastically established atmosphere you almost don’t care that a good portion of the album, as with their previous material, is Djenty chugs.
As for Death Is The Only Mortal, the album feels like a natural progression from Wormwood. It fits nicely on a playlist with the rest of their music, but the band has upped the ante on everything. The first thing you might notice is that the production is top notch. This is the first album the band has self-produced, with Daniel ‘D.L.’ Laskiewicz taking over the production duties. Previously the band had worked with Adam D. from Killswitch Engage, and legendary producer Zeuss, but if this album is any indication, D.L. should considerer producing more albums.
The next thing you may notice, and this ties into D.L. taking over the production, is that the guitars are Djentier, and have a pretty heavy influence from Meshuggah. You can say that Meshuggah has influenced pretty much every band today, but just listen to this album and you’ll see what I mean. The end of ‘Our Lady Of Perpetual Sorrow’, ‘Victims Of The Cave’, ‘Time and Death and God’ or the end of ‘House Of Abandon’ are perfect examples of the Meshuggah influence. Going along with this, the guitar work overall has improved a bit, the writing is similar to Wormwood, but they have thrown in a few guitar solo’s such as the one of ‘Brain Death’ and there are just more interesting things going on with the lead guitar in general, like the background work on ‘Go To Sleep’ or the chorus work on ‘Brain Death’.
Another thing that will please fans is that Vincent is as badass as ever. He is still easily one of the best vocalists in metal today, and his over the top angry lyrics are still as clever as ever, yet this time around he seems to have become even angrier. There is always a few lyrics their albums that really stand out for me: “Her entire head was sitting in my freezer, they thought I wanted to eat it. I don’t know why I just wanted to Keep it.’, ‘I don't fear death because I refuse to believe in life.’, or ‘Don’t bury me unless your sure that I am dead.’ Overly dark and over the top lyrics like this are part of what makes The Acacia Strain great to me.
If you have enjoyed any other The Acacia Strain album you will more than likely enjoy Death Is The Only Mortal. If you are a Wormwood fan like me, this album should rank very highly with you. The Acacia Strain continue to improve upon their well-established formula and have crafted something thoroughly enjoyable.