by Ash Levitt
I have to be honest from the start - the style of hardcore/metal/whatever that the Acacia Strain plays is not really my thing. That said, they do it better than 98% of similarly styled bands. One reason it's not my thing is the reliance on breakdowns; breakdowns that tend not to vary from song to song. Typically, the end result ultimately sounds like the same rehashed riff over and again. In fact, this was a complaint I had with the band's previous full-length debut for Prosthetic, 3750. Contrary to expectations though, there is a lot more variation on The Dead Walk, and a very clear, successful attempt to avoid redundancy. More or less picking up from where 3750 left off, the overall sound on The Dead Walk is unmistakably the Acacia Strain. The dissonant guitars, powerful low end, thunderous drums, and ominous, low vocals sound heavier than ever. Despite the fact that the first riff of the first track "Burnface" (after the intro track) sounds uncomfortably close to A Life Once Lost or Meshuggah, and that this newfound sound recurs at various points throughout the album, the band settles nicely into the style they are clearly most comfortable with with: ultra down-tuned, mid to slow tempo metal influenced hardcore that is crushingly heavy. To be certain, there is much more on The Dead Walk than mammoth breakdowns that demands attention. Utilizing more metal influence this time around, the fresh usage of various discordant melodies brings welcome changes of pace throughout the album. In addition to the occasional one-off solo, there are even a few fast tempo parts, reminiscent of older styled hardcore, that fit perfectly into the overall scheme of the album. Also easily recognizable on this newest release (as with previous material) is the pitch black humor of the lyrical content. As a whole, The Dead Walk is without a doubt the darkest material the Acacia Strain has ever birthed. The threatening and foreboding vibe that emanates throughout gives The Dead Walk one of the most haunting atmospheres this style has ever seen. Bottom Line: By now most people will already know where they stand with the Acacia Strain: fans will immediately buy this, and others will dismiss it. However, if you have yet to experience the Acacia Strain, this is a great place to start.