October 3, 2008 | | 3.5

The Acacia Strain, Continent

Continent is one of those albums that will simply leave you battered in your seat. Ignore the “deathcore” label that The Acacia Strain has been slapped with. This is straight up chugging hardcore with a metallic edge to it. There’s no high-pitched vs low-pitched vocal trade off. There are no I-can-see-that-coming-a-mile-away breakdowns. This Massachusetts four piece have just tossed you a live grenade. What are you going to do with it?

Thick, down tuned guitars pummel and chug their way through your cranial cavity as heavy handed drums thunder in support. The vocals are raw, nearly guttural and 100% completely pissed the fuck off. Matching darker themes with an even darker sound, The Acacia Strain have definitely proved themselves one of the heavier bands out this year.

The opening song fades in with all sorts of noise for the first 28 seconds before massive riffs and heavy drums emerge from the din. There’s a pretty decent groove to this one as the pace is picked up a bit. The lead vocals are thick and aggressive, only letting up a bit during the chorus — which lends for plenty of shouting along on your part. There’s a pretty soulful lead at the 3:10 mark that’s a bit surprising considering the overall dark feel of this song.

Before we even get into the meat of this next track, I’ve gotta point out the chorus. It’s violent yet pretty damned catchy and will have you growling along each time it comes around. The song starts off with thick bass and decent, spazzy guitars before the band settles into a solid, pummeling groove. There are some sweet guitar parts throughout the track, along with some creative rhythmic blasts.

Dr. Doom
“Dr. Doom” starts off with a big growl and gets off to a quicker pace than the previous two songs with chugging guitars and driving rhythms. This one will definitely leave you energized and ready to destroy everything in your path. The 1:24 mark sees a pretty slick lead. Layered vocals also make there first appearance with higher end screams to accompany the main deeper delivery.

I love the creative drum work on this next song. It’s all over the place, yet restrained and focused. There’s a nice slow down just before the one minute mark with a slight spacey, ambient touch to the guitars. The pace slows to a crawl with some thick, massive riffs and aggressive screams around the 1:30 mark.

You know you’re a dirty slut, when you’re referred to as Cthulhu. The opening series of guitars are pretty damned sweet and help lift the oppressive weight of the thick rhythms, making for a rich, dynamic sound. I can honestly say that this is the first time that I think Google or YouTube have been written into a song this aggressive. The guitars sort of take on a Pantera feel at times, but still a nice touch.

Baby Buster
Featuring Human Furnace (Ringworm) on guest vocals, “Baby Buster” fades in slowly with some reverb and noise before a thrash fueled guitars come in the bludgeoning drum work. The guest delivery adds an incredible depth to the vocals that really makes the track a standout. The bruising rhythms don’t hurt either.

Balboa Towers
Huge, bass heavy riffs and guitar noise accompany massive drums right from the start with this one. The vocals seem to have that much more vehemence to them as a result. The band certainly aren’t looking to make friends with this album — it’s full of brutally honest and revealing content.

Jesus Fucking Christ
I love the opening scream on this one and more so when the mosh kicks in. This one is chock full of heavy-assed riffs and thundering drum work. This is definitely one of the darker tracks and it suits the lyrics perfectly. Even with the lighter guitar tones that come in with the chanted chorus toward the end of the song.

This one builds nicely from the initial cymbal and guitar noise. It explodes 20 second into the track with crushing riffs and beefy drums as the vocals come in. There are some nice guitar squeals throughout that break up any potential monotony that the riffing has the potential to create. This is another dark as hell and aggressive song. The two minute mark sees some seriously chugging guitars and a great rhythm.

The Combine
There’s a bit of chaos weaving it’s ugly way through the massive riffs and reverb from the start of this one. The chorus has some massive moshing riffs and heavy drum work as the vocals have a nice staggered cadence to them. This is one of the shorter tracks on the album lasting just over two minutes.

The Behemoth
Making the transition from the uber aggressive “The Combine” to this soulful and melancholy instrument was handing smoothly with slowly building light guitar work for the first minute or so. This final track really showcases the band’s versatility and does well to allow others to see that they are more than just confrontational and angry as all get out. “The Behemoth” is well orchestrated with ebb and flow in all the right spots. It’s got some great soloing, creative drum work and is one hell of a way to end out the album.

~ ~ ~

With their latest effort, The Acacia Strain reveal a desolate, apocalyptic future. Massive riffs and thunderous rhythms deliver a message of solitude and introspective reflection. For all the power that is behind the barbaric moments on this disc, they are countered nicely with well written song structures and grooves. This is a monster of an album.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: