CD review: The Acacia Strain, Wormwood

Again, it's not a blindingly original sound by any means. But the musicians make good use of those characteristics that lend The Acacia Strain a certain unique aural identity, and the greatest among those--a willingness to slow things down far beyond standard mid-tempo metal rhythms--is on ominous display throughout Wormwood, grinding to fine effect. Where too many bands cut the breakneck death-metal gallops into a chunky half-time riff for a few measures and call it good, The Acacia Strain constantly drops the bottom out of the BPMs to settle into a gristly, gritty, gnarly dirge, stretching out the space between explosive notes to produce a disquieting tension that, when it's at its best, is damn near physically uncomfortable. "The Hills Have Eyes," "BTM FDR," "Bay of Pigs" and "Tactical Nuke" all build to transcend screamo sameness not on the strength of sheer power or technical complexity, but because of these murky pulled-taffy evocations of slow-motion decay. And here, it's more than enough to get fans through to the next spark of individuality in an otherwise drearily redundant genre.

3 stars

The guys in Massachusetts groovecore unit The Acacia Strain have made an impressive career out of just barely setting themselves apart from the alt-metal pack by incorporating non-traditional elements like noisy samples and dense three-guitar composition. While the group's current four-piece lineup eschews extra live instrumentation, fifth full-length Wormwood (Prosthetic) exhibits a firm understanding of what makes The Acacia Strain attractive to listeners tired of the same old slicked-up death-metal tropes: thick sonic layers, solid grooves and a meaty, depthy low end.

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