The Acacia Strain – Step Into The Light (Album Review)
The Acacia Strain – Step Into The Light
Released: May 12, 2023
Vincent Bennett // Vocals
Devin Shidaker // Guitar
Mike Mulholland // Guitar
Griffin Landa // Bass
Kevin Boutot // Drums
One half of The Acacia Strain’s newest duology – alongside Failure Will Follow – Step Into The Light sees the Massachusetts metalcore/deathcore veterans at their fastest and most visceral. Two decades into their career, it feels like this 10 track release is the culmination of their most intense and hardcore-influenced moments, as well as proof that the OG five piece are still one of the hardest bands walking the planet.
After a brief, practice-space sounding intro, Step Into The Light kicks off with the crushing groove of ‘Flourishing’, with the tune stepping up two gears into a punk-like break during the bridge. It, along with following strikes of brutality ‘Calf’s Blood’ and the slamming ‘Chain’, clocks-in well short of two minutes, hitting the listener like a heavyweight’s combination. Definitely the more pissed off of the two new LPs, founding member Vincent Bennett seethes with anger throughout. He also lends the mic to Chamber’s Jacob Lilly, and Josef Alfonso of Sunami, who in particular adds a powerful additional vocal element to the furious mid-album highlight ‘Sinkhole’.
The shorter songs certainly lead themselves to repeat listens, but there are a plethora of instantly grabbing moments – from the classic TAS-style bridge in ‘Teeth Of The Cursed Dog’ to the killer trem-picked riff on ‘Is This Really Happening?’. ‘Untended Graves’ was wisely the first tasting of this record, with it having a little bit of everything from Step Into The Light, as well as a catchy ‘chorus’ style section. Fellow single ‘Fresh Bones’ has a clever fake-speed up in the middle, highlighting the focus on tempos – drummer Kevin Boutot even throws in the occasional blast beat, something of a rarity on previous material. The cohesion between Step Into The Light and Failure Will Follow is none more evident than on the huge closer ‘None Of Us Asked To Be Here’, with it’s doom-y, heavily repeated ending makes for the perfect segue into it’s sludgier twin.
With eight of the album’s 10 tracks fitting comfortably under three minutes, the intensity never lets up on Step Into The Light. It’s far from a blitzkrieg of noise though; The Acacia Strain are seasoned enough songwriters to throw in enough dynamics and hooks amongst the carnage to work their way into the brain of the listener, and by the time the last note hits, you’re reaching for the play button again. Step Into The Light is a cathartic release of aural destruction from one the genre’s true all time greats.
The Acacia Strain – Step Into The Light tracklisting
- Calf’s Blood
- Chain (feat. Jacob Lilly)
- Fresh Bones
- Teeth Of The Cursed Dog
- Open Wound
- Sinkhole (feat. Josef Alfonso)
- Is This Really Happening?
- Untended Graves
- None Of Us Asked To Be Here
Step Into The Light is out May 12th on Rise Records. Order here
Review By – Andrew Kapper. Twitter: @andrew_kapper