*Insert Markiplier E mere reference here.*
It’s no secret that the past few weeks have been extremely hard on touring bands and the greater industry, with the COVID-19 global pandemic placing nearly all tours on hold – or outright canceled – until this public health storm passes. Caught amongst the flurry of canceled shows is The Acacia Strain, who were forced to pull the pin on what was arguably their most stacked North American headliner in their history, having to postpone their wicked run with Rotting Out, Creeping Death, Chamber, and Fuming Mouth. Even the few one-off shows that they scheduled to make some extra cash on their way home eventually got canceled too, cutting their tour short and forcing them to head home empty-handed. During these strange and trying times, music is an escape, and these guys aren’t without new music.
Near the end of last month, The Acacia Strain surprise-released a brand new two-track EP, ‘D,’ which featured the slow-burner ‘Feed a Pigeon Breed a Rat’ and the punishing hardcore cut ‘Seeing God.’ Eventually, fans and music publications started to catch on to the band’s plans, learning that Acacia Strain would be slowly releasing their brand new full-length over the course of several two-track EPs, all featuring a different letter so that the EPs would spell out the final album title when put together. Since then, fans have been eagerly awaiting the next chunk of this 2020 album, and theorizing just what the album’s title could be.
Just this week, we got the next piece of the veteran metalcore/metallic hardcore band’s wider puzzle with the release of a second two-track EP, ‘E.’ (And no, that title, unfortunately, has nothing to do with that bizarre Markiplier E meme that has plagued the internet for the past couple years.) With the release of ‘E,’ Acacia Strain has brought us another clue as to what this album is going to look like, along with a slightly more dreary album artwork that features a greying sky, wilting sunflowers, and withering trees. The nature scene that the art for this new LP have been following is now shown starting to slowly become more bleak and dead, inspiring many album title theories such as ‘Death,’ ‘Decay,’ or my own personal pick, ‘Demise.’ Whatever it may be, if the song output continues on this trajectory of greatness, this record could be one of the bands greatest bodies of work in their entire 19-year career.
While the musical pair on ‘E’ aren’t quite as instantly lovable as the duo from ‘D,’ they still hold an incredible weight of punishing heaviness to their name, filled to the brim with stupidly low-tuned chugging guitars and an absolute massacre of the snare drum and cymbals. First song ‘Solace and Serenity’ is a groove-laden barrage of chugs and china hits, proving itself to be the polar opposite of what it’s title so suggests. This cut almost feels reminiscent of something that former guitarist Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz would have written for 2010’s ‘Wormwood’ or even 2012’s massively underrated ‘Death Is the Only Mortal,’ with its rhythmic sections taking charge and instilling incessant headbanging that lingers throughout the track’s four-minute run time.
While this track is good enough on its own, it’s the latter cut of this 7”, ‘The Lucid Dream,’ which steals the show for this new cut up section of their new album. This chaotic cut switches back and forth between slow-burning, death-metal inspired guitars and the frantic hardcore energy of more upbeat sections, which feature an absolutely monstrous guest performance from Jess Nyx of Mortality Rate – one of sickest, angriest bands in hardcore right now. This track is nothing short of pummeling and devastating, with a universal evil-sounding atmosphere that never relents. Every second of ‘The Lucid Dream’ feels like a powerful punch to your gut, only ceasing once that stupidly crushing final breakdown rings out its final hard-as-fuck note. Seemingly taking aim at people in positions of real power who continue to let our world wither and die due to the looming threat of climate change, ‘The Lucid Dream’ sees TAS brandished with their most amount of social and political ire, with each member giving an incredible performance.
With the release of ‘E,’ The Acacia Strain are really starting to sell me on this new album. With the release of their excellent experimental doom-metal album ‘It Comes in Waves’ at the very end of 2019, the band is making it quite apparent that they don’t plan on stopping their musical winning streak anytime soon. ‘E’ proves itself as a stellar addition to Acacia Strain’s mysterious new full length, tacking on another two tracks that will likely remain in constant rotation for me over the coming months. While the title and details of this new album remain unknown, one thing is for certain; it is going to be a long few weeks until the next two songs drop!