The Acacia Strain
Gravebloom
(Rise Records)

The Acacia Strain is a band sort of in the middle of the multiverse. There are aspects of the quintet that are stellar (the non-breakdown parts to be particular), and others less so. Often, an Acacia Strain song fits the band’s said symbiosis: very much uneven and too dependent on the past. Gravebloom is classic AS: solid in groove, monotonous, and not funny. Someone once said you have to have a sense of humor to get these guys. I didn’t believe them then, and still don’t.

Violence and dystopia are popular themes on Gravebloom, and this follows AS’s typical point of reference. One time I saw the band actively encouraging some ugly beatdown at one of its shows. I had a slight attraction to the group up to that point; their slightly experimental riffs were encouraging and somewhat unique. But that scene was so sad that I couldn’t in good conscience bring myself to take them serious again. Yet I still wanted to.

Gravebloom sort of sums up the band’s totality: AS is not complicated as I was envisioned; rather, they’re pretty unimaginative and usually kind of flat (though “Dark Harvest” has its moments). It’s good music in the sense that it can work as drone (think of cruising down the highway with the windows down), but when you inspect it, want to dig deep into it, alas, there’s not much there.

Guitarist Devin Shidaker is certainly the highlight. Both Coma Witch and Gravebloom are mostly guitar records, every crevice filled in with both riff and echo. These riffs may be standard core type, but they’re heavy and have a lasting quality to them. Gravebloom is depressing (sort of where AS have always wanted to go), but depressing in a depressing way, and this makes most turns uninspired and stale.

Lead vocalist Vincent Bennett’s self-interpretable lyrics are quasi-heavy. Similar themes are represented and swallowed whole, and the band does its job, highlighting these pockets and valleys evenly and with standard AS aplomb. Hazy spoken word monologues come in and out of focus throughout the new record, giving it a sort of ‘90s alternative metal feel. Take that how you want it, but overall, Gravebloom is no Continent, and what we have here is pretty much another metalcore record that you probably won’t play twice. But you might.

Purchase the album here.

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