Ok so this cd has seen some controversial reviews thus far on this page. Far fans of pure “metal” ala Pantera and the like and especially those who hate the hardcore/metalcore scene and its trademarks, The Acacia Strain is probably not the band for you. Yes they don’t reinvent the metalcore wheel, but that doesn’t mean this cd is a write-off. In fact “3750″ is one of the most addicting and satisfying cds I picked up in 2004. Basically those who are comparing this band to anything like Korn, Bleeding Through, KSE or Everytime I Die are pretty far off base. However there’s still many things that The Acacia Strain gets right on this cd. And when they get it right, boy does it work.
J. Doe has pretty much nailed their sound on the head. Basically TAS does sound like a heavier version of Cannae or Innovocation of Nehek. This isn’t that surprising since all three bands are on the same label (Prosthetic Records), and all share the same producer (Adam D. or Killswitch Engage). Yes, too big of a deal has been made about this band having three guitarists (probably the reason their third guitarist is no longer with them) but that has little to do with the quality of the music. For what it’s worth, “3750″ is a crushing slab of metalcore that will bombard you with the heaviest breakdowns and vocals you’ve probably heard in while. Listen to “Sunpoison And Skin Cancer” or the blistering “Brown Noise” and try not moving with the punishing rhythms. While the guitarists aren’t turning out amazingly complicated riffs, they do a nice job hitting the heavy notes and making music that has a lot of rhythm to it, particularly on “Smoke Ya Later” and “Passing The Pencil Test”. As far as the drumming being slow and boring, I don’t really know where that came from. Unless the previous reviewer was talking about the drum patterns during the breakdowns (which are designed to be slow) I don’t see how someone could arrive at that conclusion. And as for the vocals, they’re typical of the metalcore genre. Vincent doesn’t try to do too much, as he mostly concentrates on keeping his vocals as intense as the music. If you’re looking for singers who “carry tunes”, sing melodically or something of that nature, you probably aren’t going to get into TAS to begin with. His lyrics however are particularly thought provoking and inventive, when so much of the hardcore scene is concentrated on love and other crap. It’s nice to hear someone with some political and religious views whose not afraid to talk about it.
The only downside to “3750″ (and unfortunately it’s a fairly big one) is that it is entirely too short. In fact if you take away the two interludes (“Extreme Wrath of the Jhiaxus” and “Halcyon”) and the short introduction track (“Carbomb” which isn’t really a song anyway, just a big breakdown) then what you’re left with is six new songs, or more or less a new EP. If they would have just dropped those three and marketed this as an EP, it would have worked a lot better. However since this is made out to be a full length, somehow I can’t help but feel short changed. Granted it’s not that expensive, and the band as well as their label could use the support (preferably the band, so buy the record from them at a show), it still just feels like they were trying to get a record out and maybe it wasn’t completely done.
“3750″ isn’t going to change your mind about metalcore if you already hate it. It’s also not going to bring you anything amazingly new as far as the genre is concerned. However what it will give you is 29 minutes of solid listening, especially if you love metal in the vein of Cannae or Innovocation of Nehek. Despite what some have said, The Acacia Strain is not a band that should be written off easily. Yea they aren’t your typical Pantera metal or whatever (please stop this comparison, it isn’t even remotely close), but they know how to play heavy music, and that’s all that really counts. The guitars shred, the vocals are heavy, and the lyrics are better than most of the trendy metal/hardcore bands right now who are writing emo heartbreakers. While it is short, “3750″ definitely merits a listen. People shouldn’t get stuck on some typical view of metal, and should try to give other forms of heavy music the respect they deserve. This is the record to do that with.