Being one of the first merchants of down tempo brutality, THE ACACIA STRAIN have been able to garner themselves a loyal following over their surprisingly lengthy career. As is always, there have been some massive peaks, like their work on the Wormwood record, and then some true troughs as well…go and listen to the painfully dull The Mouth of The River if you need convincing. With all this said, following on from their decent previous effort Coma Witch, THE ACACIA STRAIN returns with a genuine hulking monster of an album in Gravebloom.
Opening with the abusive Worthless the immediate thing that is apparent with Gravebloom is the undoubted urgency the band have begun playing with. The issue most down tempo bands, THE ACACIA STRAIN included, is that they can quickly become too bogged down in their own sluggishness. With the added speed the album things become even heavier than they already were, with the instantly recognisable tone to their drop tuned guitars hitting immensely hard.
Tracks like Bitter Pill also display a good use of ambient sounds that loiter in the background when the band drop the tempo and enter one of the numerous breakdowns featured on the record. These added layers help bring a good depth to the sound on the record and help solve the issue of songs becoming boring due to the chugging patterns and predictable breakdowns.
The album still feels bogged down by a lack of anything really innovative from the band, instead they seem to continue treading the same waters, even if they have become incredibly proficient at what they do. Even if it was to be the addition of more speed to the music via blast beats or perhaps some more adventurous guitar work, something that could’ve intertwined with their already established blueprint. This is pretty nit-picky but when you realise just how solid the band are when they play with some real gumption then it can be hard not to think ‘what if…’.
With their reputation as one of the most consistent and original deathcore bands in the world, it’s pretty easy for THE ACACIA STRAIN to rest on their laurels and simply stick to the blueprint, and with Gravebloom they have, somewhat. With an increased urgency to their sound and delivery that allows the music to hit even harder than before, Gravebloom shows the band at their best, with the sound still remaining true to what people expect but still offering enough power to hook everyone in. In essence, Gravebloom is THE ACACIA STRAIN doing what they usually do but making it even heavier and more aggressive in the mean time, which is reason enough to give this record a whirl.
Gravebloom is out now via Rise Records.
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