The Acacia Strain are lauded as one of the bands that lead the way in terms of the most brutal and heavy Deathcore on the market. Their signature sound is recognizable across all their releases, and the band has put out consistently good music since their inception. However, their last two records received somewhat lukewarm receptions in regards to how similar they sounded, and having to follow up to their opus, Continent, is a tough challenge. Nevertheless, the band has shown over their 12 years in existence that they can still make brutal music while also putting out one of their most experimental works to date.
Coma Witch is The Acacia Strain through and through. From the intro sample you can tell that it’s still the same band, though there is a strong change on this record with the absence of founder and longtime guitarist Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz. The addition of not one, but two new guitarists, is something that the band has really used to their advantage. While it’s the “same” band in one sense, it’s also the beginning of an entirely new era. The album is covered in the new guitarists’ take on the Acacia sound, and they make great use of the past as their template. The album is more reminiscent of Continent than their last two releases, and contains some of the best material from the group.
The most enthralling part of the entire release, however, is the second disc, featuring one 27-minute long track. The band was going out on a limb here, making an entire second disc with just one song. It’s something similar to EPs from Pig Destroyer where the band does something they’re not really known for. It’s as close to Doom Metal as the band will ever get, but it also has something for everyone: samples throughout the song, absolutely gorgeous and crisp clean guitars in the middle, and super heavy riffs, slowed to a crawl, using Vincent Bennett’s voice as the driving force. It’s almost as if he’s shouting in a megaphone directly in front of you, helping create a spectacular wall of sound that many bands would aspire to have. Will Putney’s mix on this record really lends itself to the overall quality of the music, which is nice to see.
The first disc is 10 songs, and the first half is definitely better than the second half. The last few tracks before the closing track all sound sort of the same and seem to blend together at certain points, which detracts from the impact the first five songs have. The songs, while still fun, are nothing compared to tracks like ‘Cauterizer’ and ‘Holy Walls Of The Vatican’. Luckily, the second disc is there to make the record end on a high note; while the second half of songs on the first disc may meander at times, the second disc is meant to do so, plodding along at a slow pace, capturing doom and gloom in its most concentrated form.
So where does the band go from here? An overall great release, the album’s true hero is the epic on the second disc, which shines brighter than any other Acacia Strain song before it. It would be extremely cool to see the band explore that territory more in the future, but for now, The Acacia Strain have given us the gift of a truly awesome album, and one that nearly stacks up to their opus. Lookout world; The Acacia Strain is still out for your blood.
The Acacia Strain’s Coma Witch gets…