In my review of their last album, Wormwood, I praised The Acacia Strain for their raw anger and brutality, but complained about the lack of variation and the general muddiness of the record as a whole. Though I still feel the same way about the studio album, I was absolutely floored by their performance this year at New England Metal and Hardcore, including the Wormwood material. However, I was still more pumped to hear Brown Noise and Whoa! Shut it Down than The Hills Have Eyes. But, like anyone with good taste, I thought the teaser track they released this year (Servant in the Place of Truth) was fucking awesome. So I was very hopeful for Death is the Only Mortal, and I was not disappointed.
Doomblade virtually made me want to chuck the computer out the window out of pure adrenaline rush. After realizing that this would of course be a bad idea, I sat and enjoyed an amazingly negative and crushingly brutal slab of metal and hardcore fury. The first thing that came to mind was how Vincent has decided to use his mid-range growl again, along with his higher range screech- something absent from the band’s more recent work. I also couldn’t help but laugh at the outrageously negative lyrics: “Stop chasing your dreams, they will never come true” or “Life is a nightmare, death is a gift”. When I met Vincent this past spring, he told admiring fans, when they mentioned how angry his lyrics are: “I wake up every day with my blood fucking boiling”. Only a few minutes of listening to Death is the Only Mortal should make this pretty clear, however I tend to agree with Axl Rosenberg in his review in that, Vincent is very much in on the joke.
There are a few extremely important things that set this record apart from other “deathcore” albums out today. The quality of the writing and the structure of the songs are nothing less than top notch. Surrounding the blistering negativity and anger is an exhilarating and entertaining album. Songs like Brain Death and Our Lady Of Perpetual Sorrow are among the best The Acacia Strain has ever written. At once growing and evolving, the band manages to also blend elements of 3750, The Dead Walk, and Wormwood together in just the right way to retain their signature sound. And of course, one thing that sets this record far above Wormwood- catchy, memorable RIFFS! (and even a couple solos!). And one cannot fail to mention Jack Strong and Kevin Boutat as a triumphantly pounding rhythm section that makes TAS’s music tailor-made for the mosh-pit (not to mention a few hospital bills). After seeing them perform so excellently live this year (and a couple times before that) I can only imagine how awesome these songs will sound on stage.
Death is the Only Mortal is one of the most satisfying listens of 2012. At once absurdly angry and downtrodden, yet made with so much talent and finesse- it has nearly everything a fan of extreme music could want.
Favorite Songs: Brain Death, Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow, The Mouth of the River, Victims of the Cave
Full album stream: