• Lucas Liner

[Album Review] The Acacia Strain's 'It Comes In Waves' Brings Doom-Infused Metalcore In Spades

Updated: Mar 29

For nearly two decades, Massachusetts-based The Acacia Strain have purveyed their brand of doom-tinged metalcore. Even with myriad lineup changes (singer Vincent Bennett is the only original member left), the band has maintained a death grip on the metal world, with every release from 2008’s Continent through 2017’s Gravebloom charting on the Billboard 200, with their 2014 effort Coma Witch making the highest placement on said chart, even making number one on the Hard Rock chart.

Their ninth studio LP, It Comes in Waves, is their first through independent label Closed Casket Activities, and it packs a lot into a roughly thirty minute package. Bringing together doom, sludge, and death metal, it feels faintly apocalyptic, and if the end of the world is meant to sound this heavy, count me in.

“Our” starts off in a gentle limbo until just over a minute in, when the hardcore-flavored chaos picks up. The second movement is more deliberate, albeit eerily melodic, as “Only” starts off with the twin guitar attack of Devin Shidaker and Tom Smith Jr, before a doom-laden section of a clean guitar, pounding drums, and a wail of the album’s title send chills down the listener’s spine.

“Sin” starts off with a distinctly black metal feel, especially in the drum and vocal departments, before a slower, sludgy second section with some grooving bass courtesy of Griffin Landa. It was at this point, during my first listen, that I wondered why each song ends in a sample or a clean guitar section, though upon further research, this is standard for the band.

“Was” is full-on doom, with a deliberate pace and a lovely dual guitar harmony over the samples. The rattling bass guitar during this section is a chiller. “Giving” doesn’t let up a lick, as a slow, hulking pace instills a sense of dread and, well, doom. “Them” is a skull-crushing affair, with a sense of urgency and a ripper of a breakdown. The nine-minute “Names” ends the record with an epic finale, a sendoff worthy of the metalcore titans The Acacia Strain have proven to be.

As a way to end the 2010s for the band, It Comes in Waves sends the decade on its way not with a held-open door, but with a bum’s rush and a slammed door. It’s a gloomy, uneasy listen, but a necessary one for metal fans.

It Comes in Waves is available now via Closed Casket Activities. Limited edition vinyl packages are available through the label's Bandcamp page.


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