‘Decay’ is almost upon us as The Acacia Strain release their new ‘A’ EP.
Four weeks ago, I ended my write up on The Acacia Strain’s ‘C’ EP by saying “I am hoping for some more ass-beating songs akin to ‘Seeing God’ and ‘Crossgates’ on the inevitable future EPs.” Well, do I have some news for past me! For at long last, The Acacia Strain have dropped ‘A,’ the next addition to their ever-growing 2020 full-length album, and this thing satisfies every bit of that itch I had those weeks ago.
As much as I adore slow and sludgy TAS (like their brilliant 2019 project ‘It Comes In Waves‘), the faster and more energetic cuts from them have always been my favorites. From ‘Holy Walls of the Vatican,’ to ‘Bitter Pill,’ and even to February’s brilliant ‘Seeing God.’ It seems as if The Acacia Strain is at the top of their game when they push deeper into hardcore territory. There’s just something about those ultra-catchy fight riffs and devastating breakdowns that they do so well, only getting better in recent years. These songs always tend to land in my personal favorites, and that’s true again of their new effort with how these two new tracks came out.
So let me go ahead and put this out there: ‘A’ is the best of the four EPs we’ve gotten thus far from Acacia Strain in 2020. Both tracks are instantly gripping, digging like sharp hooks into your brain and holding on with sheer brute force. The contrast of the punishing, chugging riffs and booming double-kicks keep me coming back for more punishment, with the addictive hateful chord progressions replaying in my mind over and over. I can’t seem to get these two out of my head, and I’m perfectly okay with that.
‘Inverted Person’ blazes out of the gate with choppy, down-tuned chugs and massive grooves, not letting up until it reaches its spacey, downright evil-sounding chorus. The way that the guitars and vocalist Vincent Bennett’s deliveries intertwine is brilliant, easily making this track stand out as one of the band’s best in years. Later in the song, an eerie, distant guitar lead transitions the track into its bone-crusher of a breakdown, which hits like a god damned semi. When this gets played inside venues, no amount of “zero moshing” rules are gonna hold people back. Yet the standout aspect of ‘Inverted Person‘ is the lyrics, which are hilariously written about Vincent’s hatred for the baby boomer generation. I can’t help but giggle at lines like “an entire generation of entitled fucking clowns,” not only because it’s ridiculous, but because it’s so blatantly agreeable. Bennett’s delivery does wonders for the song, with moments like his massive pre-breakdown mosh call of “we don’t owe you anything” making for some of the biggest moments on this LP so far.
‘Chhinnamasta’ opens with ominous ambient guitar leads, before swiftly being swept away by an onslaught of pounding kicks and booming chugs, making for an intro that will destroy crowds all around the world someday when lockdown ends. The song, which is translated as “she whose head is severed,” gets its brutal title from the Hindu goddess of contradictions, and I couldn’t think of a title that more perfectly encapsulates the sound of this demolisher. This thing is devastatingly heavy, and is a pretty obvious callback to the band’s fan-adored album ‘Continent,’ just as songs like ‘Feed a Pigeon Breed a Rat’ and ‘Solace & Serenity’ were callbacks to some of the band’s other past records. It also features what is arguably the biggest chorus section on this new record, topped off with a heinous chord progression leading into a welcome hi-hat groove section. This all then goes full circle back into the song’s intro chug patterns, allowing for a comeback of the track’s energetic, high-tempo breakdown section. Honestly, I can’t see a world where ‘Chhinnamasta’ doesn’t make it onto all of the band’s future setlists.
I truly mean it when I say that ‘A’ is the best thing we’ve gotten from this ‘Decay‘ album rollout yet. This isn’t to say that any of the other EPs were dull in comparison (I love all of them actually), but there is something about ‘A’ that stands out from the bunch. This thing is blisteringly fast, stupidly heavy, and extremely memorable. ‘Inverted Person’ and ‘Chhinnamasta’ are without a doubt two of my personal favorite songs of 2020, and they’ll be getting some serious replay time, mark my words. With the inevitable ‘Y’ now looming ahead around the corner next month, I’m sad to see this rollout nearing its conclusion, but man am I glad that even after 19 years, TAS still manage to kick the most amount of ass!