Rise Records 2012
As it turns out, fans of The Acacia Strain may have been right to approach “Death Is The Only Mortal” with caution. For while the album certainly weathered its unfair share of criticism following the groups signing to scene band stable Rise Records; few could have predicted that they would return with such a decidedly djent-laced affair.
If there was ever one thing at which The Acacia Strain have always excelled, it would be creating devastatingly heavy music. The band certainly keep up the status quo on this album. But the pervasive impact that Meshuggah‘s angular riffing and abrasive friction has had on them makes for considerable handicaps.
In blindly taking on a lumbering pace, the group quickly sink into a routine of polyrhythmic drudgery. It’s only so long before a groove becomes a rut and it doesn’t seem like the band have any interest in getting out of it. The warning bells begin to sound quickly after that. Especially once you are able to properly telegraph the arrival of the detached squeals and strums that constantly hover about.
Sure the punishing bellows of vocalist Vincent Bennett provide a worthy distraction—but given the tepid pacing of the material and his own limited range, there’s only so much he can do. That said, there are a few surprises; such as “Dust And The Helix” getting its A Life Once Lost snarl on; and a steadfast guitar solo temporarily lifting “Brain Death” out of the muck.
All in all, “Death Is The Only Mortal” isn’t the dramatic face turn that sees the band embracing autotune or radically altering their sound to appeal to the masses. But it does come dangerously close to repeating itself too often. A fierce listen to be sure, but one that even when at its most enraged seems incapable of expressing itself with its own voice.
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