The Acacia Strain – Failure Will Follow

By Jack Terry

Across 22 years and 10 albums, deathcore crew The Acacia Strain has established themselves at the top of the festering pile of unbridled aural brutality that they have ushered in. By this point, they’ve earned creative license to do what they want, so when they announced two new albums to be released on the same day, we all kind of shrugged it off. After all, who doesn’t bust out a double album ten albums deep?

But the difference is that the surprise second album ‘Failure Will Follow’ – announced a month after the first – is The Acacia Strain as we’ve never heard them before. Three tracks of sludgey, doomy, evil noise that goes ridiculously hard and adds a rotten feather to their grotesque caps.

Where the companion album ‘Step Into The Light‘ is a brisk and bruising whirlwind of blast beats and barks, ‘Failure Will Follow’ is a lot more precise and deliberate, taking its time to mete out its venomous verses in excruciating detail. Opener ‘Pillar Of Salt’ is a 10-plus minute test of endurance that utilises vocalist Vincent Bennett’s bone crumbling guttural roars to terrifying effect, as well as inviting Full Of Hell’s Dylan Walker to contribute his own vitriolic outbursts and iRis.EXE to lend some light to the darkness, her glistening vocals floating above the maelstrom like an out of body experience.

‘Bog Walker’ is the centrepiece to ‘Failure Will Follow’, clocking in at over 17 minutes, the first three of which it spends recycling the same fuzzed out riff that would sound at home on an Electric Wizard album. In fact, so long is the opening, that you could have listened to two tracks from ‘Step Into The Light’ and be halfway done with a third and that’s all before another member of the band joins this rumbling ramp up. When apocalyptic drums, eruptive bass and beefy vocals do eventually join the fray, the result is cataclysmic, the shockwaves carrying this track emphatically onward. Like a journey down the River Styx through the Seven Circles, ‘Bog Walker’ offers passage after passage of cascading riffs and neck snapping volatility.

The sad truth with this double release is that fans will inevitably pick their favourite and cast the other out as a ‘nice to have’ side dish. Sadder still is that established fans might – understandably –  stick with the sound they know best from the band and put ‘Step Into The Light’ on the pedestal over its sludgier twin. But while ‘Failure Will Follow’ seems like a new sound on the surface, all the clues have been there in their output for the best part of a decade. Doom influences have littered the likes of 2017’s ‘Gravebloom’ and 2019’s ‘It Comes In Waves’. They even recently toured the US with Full Of Hell and Primitive Man. They’re comfortable in this dank wheelhouse.

Closing with ‘Basin Of Vows’, The Acacia Strain prove this extensively. The friends they’ve accrued in high places are a big help and they call upon that support network again with Primitive Man’s Ethan McCarthy stepping in to trade lines with Bennett. Their back and forth is nothing short of enthralling, a violent tennis match between two heavyweights that ought to be savoured as much as it should be feared. Featuring more clean passages before a final section that may be Acacia’s heaviest moments to date, they make sure you’ll continue to feel ‘Failure Will Follow’ long after the closing moments ring out.

‘Failure Will Follow’ is The Acacia Strain as you’ve never heard them before – at least not to this extent. But based on the strength of this offering, we hope it’s not long before we hear them plumb such depths again. Still just as heavy but in a whole new way, The Acacia Strain may be 20 years deep in this, but Failure Will Follow feels like we’ve still only seen the tip of the iceberg.

JACK TERRY

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