Artist The Acacia Strain
Album Coma Witch
Year Released: 14 October 2014
Label Rise Records Genre Deathcore
What even is a “coma witch”? My only guess is the state of mind Vincent Bennett was in while writing the lyrics for this album. Apparently the guy has a lot of nightmares, because he would write the lyrics after waking up from a nightmare. This state might explain the details of Coma Witch, and then there is the music. The Acacia Strain are back with their seventh release.
For the first statement of what I think of this album, it is awesome. The band has added a rhythm guitarist back into the mix of things, maybe even adding more input to the music. The drones of constant breakdowns that were the past two albums are instead backed with ferocious guitar riffs like that in “The Cauterizer.” Don’t fear though, the few breakdowns that they do have on this record are absolute bangers. “Bridgepainter” is one filthy groove that leaves rooms trashed at the end of the song and “Nailgun” uses different tempos to bring devastating results (and even a solid spit scream to kick off one breakdown). Even the drums have a few exciting moments at the beginning of tracks. The problem is almost all 10 (not including “The Observer,” and I will explain later) songs end with a slow guitar-driven buildup/beatdown in which I wish the drums would spastically wrap around instead of follow along.
“Holy Walls of the Vatican” was a song that stuck out to me on the first listen, as Bennett is spitting his screams out with great pace and breath. His approach is still heavy, spanning from lower-end growls to raspier yells across the whole song. Coma Witch also features three guest vocal appearances: “VVorld Demise” (which sounds like a track from Continent) has Brandon Garrone from Incendiary using a more traditional hardcore yell that contrasts beautifully with Vincent’s much deeper approach. “Send Help” has the legendary Max Cavalera giving chant/death metal vocals, and Sven from Aborted helps out on “Graveyard Shift.” Some of the lyrics are cringe worthy, but there Bennett has kept his brutal nature alive, which makes me question just what kind of fucked up nightmares he has.
The final track (and on a separate disc) is entitled “Observer” — and it’s 27 and a half minutes long! At first I was skeptical about the band releasing a song this long, but the track has a lot of depth embedded in it. It starts off slow and creeps along at a pretty sullen pace until the dialogue part. This one fits with the entire idea of the album as the narrator is discussing dreaming as a person and being a monster. The band’s melodic side is shown as well, with a cleaner section that contains a delicate string section limping along with another dialogue in which a lady reflects on not being able to dream anymore without having nightmares. Vincent and the band explode back into the mix, swerving around destructive breakdowns and melodic guitar bends until the song’s collapsing end. If anything, this track shows the talent The Acacia Strain has in mixing genres and building strong climaxes in one long, art-ridden song.
I may be in the minority here, but to me Coma Witch is a step forward for this band. I have memories of The Acacia Strain speeding around at breakneck pace AND destroying everything in their path (The Dead Walk), and this is a step toward that sound. At times the band gives a glimpse of pace and at other times the band is as vitriolic as ever. It is rarely both anymore. For fans of Continent this album is a slight step below and the production garners no complaints from me.