The Acacia Strain – Coma Witch (Rise Records)Sunday, 19th October 2014
A band that has often stood out amongst their American peers due to the fact that they can bring some sonic heaviness to their albums, The Acacia Strain is also a band that has not been able to catch a break with their line-up. The band’s sixth album, Coma Witch, is their first without guitarist Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz (leaving vocalist Vincent Bennett as the only founding member), and there is a clear difference.
Usually being able to straddle the “deathcore” line with a more technical approach, Coma Witch feels a bit more generic. The djenty tones and large number of plain, chugging riffs do little to give the album some pizzazz. Nor do the predictable breakdowns that are frequently relied upon in each track. Sure, songs like “Holy Walls of the Vatican” are a bit more visceral than your average deathcore act, but nothing really sticks with the listener once the whole affair has ended. The piece that truly puts the whole album into the disappointment category is “Observer,” a 28 minute final track that does see the band trying to put some more progressive elements into their scathing approach, but is needlessly long. It’s a prime example of taking what could have been a decent 10-minute track that is unfortunately spread out to an inexplicable, near 30-minute runtime. Mostly instrumental, there’s no reason why this couldn’t have been edited down to be a more cohesive and interesting track.
Coma Witch comes across as an album that falters more than it succeeds, even with the help of a few high profile guest appearances (including Max Cavalera and Sven de Caluwe). It’s unfortunate, as The Acacia Strain has been one of the more interesting bands of this ilk up until this point. If they could bring some of those more progressive influences into the shorter tracks next time, perhaps they can save some face.