The Acacia Strain – Failure Will Follow (Album Review)
The Acacia Strain – Failure Will Follow
Released: May 12, 2023
Vincent Bennett // Vocals
Devin Shidaker // Guitar
Mike Mulholland // Guitar
Griffin Landa // Bass
Kevin Boutot // Drums
The Acacia Strain online:
Treating their fanbase to two new full lengths of varied material, it is certainly a good time to be an Acacia Strain fan. With Step Into The Light featuring some of their most direct and pulverising work today, it’s sibling Failure Will Follow is a different beast altogether. Housing The Acacia Strain’s doomiest, sludgiest, filthiest material to date, this side of the act has been slowly festering over the last few albums. 2014’s epic ‘Observer’, Gravebloom’s closer ‘Cold Gloom’ and the It Comes In Waves release all had prominent doom influences, with Failure Will Follow seeing the quintet fully embracing this style on their terms.
Containing a mere three songs over the 37 minute runtime, the trio are all multi-movement pieces, with an immense amount of material to dive into. Opener ‘pillar of salt’ begins carefully with a moody keyboard, before an anvil of low and slow punishment is dropped onto the listener. There is some immense riffing on display from longtime guitarist Devin Shidaker, bassist Griffin Landa and newest axeman Mike Mulholland, with the titanic section at the four minute mark maybe earning the ‘riff-MVP’ award for both records. The mood and atmosphere does not let up with the huge middle, with Vincent Bennett desperately asking to know “where we go when we die?”, and Full of Hell’s Dylan Walker’s tortured screams. It closes just as powerfully with haunting female vocals and reverb-drenched chugging, before the rest of the band thunders back in for it’s final climax. One of the finest cuts of the music in The Acacia Strain’s career, ‘pillar of salt’ will be a heavy contender for this writer’s track of the year.
The mix of both Step Into The Light and Failure Will Follow from Randy Labouf is raw, experimental and massive. The hotly rising producer/engineer/mixer has a real knack at getting character-filled drum tones – especially snares – while the guitar tone at times is absolutely vile, in the best way possible. The monolithic ‘bog walker’ is the record’s 17-minute centrepiece. After the huge intro of a droning, fuzzed out motif, the beat and group kick in with a slower groove, with Bennett pushing his voice into the realm of strong, full bodied cleans. Haunting clean guitars crop up behind a Tommy Chong quote from Color Out Of Space, before a nice rhythm section break with a reprise of the beginning bass line, before the big cleans return once again. ‘bog walker’ is another resounding triumph of Failure Will Follow.
While the previous two tunes lull the listener in, ‘basin of vows’ erupts with a punishing wall of flattening guitars and Ethan McCarthy’s roaring vocals. The combination of the Primitive Man frontman’s bellows and enormous riffage and drumming creates the heaviest passage on either LPs – and possibly the year. Bennett’s reverb-drenched vocals and another brilliant clean guitar break pop up, before yet even more crushing drums and chugs storm the tune. It’s final movement sees the band revisit the album’s opening theme, bringing to close the amazing Failure Will Follow.
If Step Into The Light is like a delicious entree, Failure Will Follow is definitely The Acacia Strain’s main course. The emotionally wrought three-track is full of earnest feelings; pain, depression, fear, and anxiety. It’s what adds the most weight here; something the lowest-tuned guitar and slowest drum beat could never replicate. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that there is a tonne of that amazing instrumentation in every corner of Failure Will Follow. Understandably it will require a couple of spins to get fully immersed into, but once it does the huge moments begin to drag you in. The diversity on display between the two releases speaks volumes of the songwriting prowess that the group possesses, and The Acacia Strain could do a hell of a lot worse than embracing the doom style permanently. 5 months into 2023, we may already have the album of the year with Failure Will Follow.
The Acacia Strain – Failure Will Follow tracklisting
- pillar of salt (feat. Dylan Walker)
- bog walker (feat. Sam Sawyer)
- basin of vows (feat. Ethan McCarthy)
Failure Will Follow is out May 12th on Rise Records. Order here
Review By – Andrew Kapper. Twitter: @andrew_kapper