The Acacia Strain - Gravebloom
If there's one heavy band that needs no introduction, there's a good chance its The Acacia Strain. With their "tune low, die slow" slogan and built up anger and frustration with the world, the band is back with their eight studio album, "Gravebloom," and with it, the band bring their most epic, depressingly brutal album to date. It's slow, it's heavy, and it's sad - three things that TAS blended together to deliver the punishment their fans have been begging for since their last album - Coma Witch - dropped and brought with it some of their best and honest work to date. Gravebloom is just as relentless and brutally sad, and it is an incredible piece of work, bringing TAS into a whole new category of extreme music.
"Worthless" kicks off Gravebloom with its crackling before the hell is unleashed and a very familiar voice booms from behind it - that of Vincent Bennett. And it's not long into the lyrical content that the nihilism begins to show its head, with lyrics like "Every day above ground is a curse, nothing you do to me could fucking make it worse" and "so fucking worthless, you serve no purpose. with your hands around my neck, begging you to bring me death." If these aren't the vibes you like coming from your headphones, save yourself the time: Gravebloom might just not be for you. This album will show you pain, it will show you depression, it will show you misery. Add the low tuning and incredibly slowness to the album, and it creates the perfect environment to coincide with Bennet's honesty in his writing. "Plague Doctor" has one of the faster, two-step inducing sounds to it, but not before the heaviness sets in with the breakdown towards the end as "nothing to no one" is belted out. The following two tracks, "Bitter Pill" and "Big Sleep" were both dropped as teasers for the new album - and these two tracks definitely stand out from the rest of the album in the way that they sound. "Bitter Pill" almost sounds like it could have come to us on Coma Witch - it has the same sound most of Coma Witch bears, and that final breakdown is one of the best on the record; it's disgustingly heavy and violent.
The title track off this beast - "Gravebloom" - was definitely an interesting choice, but they definitely made an awesome choice. Remember that whole sadness and misery thing I mentioned earlier? Yeah, Gravebloom delivers that: "Bury me upside down. Six feet is not deep enough in the ground. Death's cold embrace, carry me away." Other songs that I definitely want to highlight would of course be "Calloused Mouth" and "Cold Gloom" but my personal favorite off this whole adventure of misery would have to go to "Walled City." Obviously this is more of a personal thing, but the world this song puts me in is unlike any other this record does: it is slower than most of the rest of Gravebloom, but don't mistake that for softness - this is The Acacia Strain at some of their heaviest. There is a breakdown that begins about halfway through, and then it begins: your slow, miserable descent into hell guitarists Devin Shidaker and Tom Smith lead you down, with the assistance of bassist Griffin Landa and drummer Kevin Boutot. If you were a fan of "Tactical Nuke" off "Wormwood," then this is going to be the song you want to start off with; it's some of the slowest TAS to date.
The Acacia Strain has been one of my favorite bands, ever since "3750" came out way back in 2004 and some random kid at a local show in a no-name bar introduced me to them. He put on "Carbomb" for me, and instantly I was drawn in to the TAS sound. The reason I say this is because The Acacia Strain has always been one of my favorites simply because their fun to listen to - I love and relate to their anger and how pissed off at the world they are. But it was never anything super emotional that got me with these guys (which is perfectly fine - people need to understand sometimes you listen to shit just because it sounds fucking awesome). But Gravebloom is changing that relationship I have with The Acacia Strain - with Gravebloom, the band are inviting you into their own personal hell and torment, and the sadness and bummer that comes with it. This is The Acacia Strain showing some emotion without relinquishing their sound and brutality. In fact, I think it makes it just that much better. This is a raw and thought provoking vision from the band I'm not entirely sure we've seen before, and the band fucking killed it on this one. If you give Gravebloom a play through and don't feel what went into this record, you gotta throw it back on repeat and listen again until you get it. This is a powerful and damning release by the band, and it's more than lived up to the hype surrounding it, at least for me. But don't take my word for it: spin this album yourself and find out.
Listen to "Walled City" off of "Gravebloom" below, and if you like what you hear, check out the band on Facebook as well as their merch store to grab a copy! You can also catch The Acacia Strain on Warped Tour all summer long!