In these very strange, unprecedented times for the world over (and not just the music world) it must make a few of us uneasy in terms of when does “new music” stop coming out thanks to the pandemic. Well, the good news is the music we are getting right now is simply fantastic! The Acacia Strain have dropped two EPs this year after a surprise full release at the end of 2019. These new EPs entitled, simply, D and E (Rise Records) are certainly under the “short but sweet” category. Each EP only has two tracks apiece, however, this only helps in getting listeners to want more.
Emmure versus The Acacia Strain, two bands enter one band leaves! Well, not really, but that’s how they pitched it to the audience. In reality that’s really who is the deciding factor, the fans!
Round 1 FIGHT!
Firstly I’d like to give a shout out to my friends in Handsome Bastards for headlining the upstairs stage of the Palladium for their tireless push to sell tickets and bring fans new and old in hopes of furthering themselves and having great attitudes and fun while doing it! now on with the show. Ladies and gentleman I bring you SYLAR from Queens New York.
Upon first look of these five young New Yorkers one would be led to believe they may be at the wrong tour… taking a minor influence from hip-hop they definitely don’t look like your average hardcore or metal band. That’s why I believe they were added to this tour. Five guys with very wide influences of rap and hip-hop style, with metal and hardcore heaviness, and lots of similarities to the headlining band Emmure, with their fast paced music full of attitude and confrontational lyrics. This left me wondering what would come next from this set as 50 Cent’s ‘P.I.M.P’ played before they started playing. With seven strings in hand, the boys took the stage and so began the first stop of “The Eternal Enemies” tour. SYLAR’s sound is very much a mix of heavy influences such as Meshuggah with the lyrical flare of Emmure, who could be their musical big brothers. The band was very entertaining to watch and with great crowd reaction, synchronized stage moves reminiscent of old Korn, and lots of crowd interaction. Electronic bits were thrown in to add to the flavor of the band and made for unique songs and a great over all show. At first glance SYLAR did not look like they were going to be as impressive as they were, but once they hit that stage not only was my opinion changed but I was made a fan.
Sadly, after the ct date of the tour while in Canada the bands van was broken into and the money they had made was taken leaving them financially at ground zero again. I hope the rest of the tour works out more in their favor and if your reading this maybe you’ll feel compelled to help them in some way, be it merch or buying their CD.
Next from “The Lone Star State”, Kublai Khan, another band I was new to on this tour but yet again was pleasantly surprised by. This four piece hailing from Sherman, Texas not only immediately went for the throat of every one present to see them preform, they first thanked us for having them there and were very humble and honored to play here. Sticking close to their hardcore influences their songs ranged in very real topics from being a minority/racism, and growing up in Texas as singer Matthew Matthew Honeycutt explained, to being a single parent trying to care for a family. All things that in one way or another many of the fans may be able to connect with. Again, the crowd response was high energy and very reactive to. the bands music and great attitude. Another group I cant wait to see again in Worcester.
Also from Texas, Fit For a King. defiantly a good fit for the tour with similar styles and sound to all the other bands. If you liked the bands you’ve seen so far, here’s more of it. lots of catchy hooks and clean vocal sing along parts and fun mosh parts, fit for a king defiantly kept the crowd jumping and amped up for the next two bands. Unfortunately I was not one of those people. I had rather high hopes for this band seeing as the two predecessors had wowed me so, and so I was kinda let down. Not for lack of trying or bad sound; they just didn’t do it for me.
And now for the tectonic two, the sultans of sorrow!
The Acacia Strain, never ones to pass up a good laugh or being taken too seriously, decided to set up bubble machines and in the words of “Vincent Bennett” in Sesame Street style letters to shove the “seriousness” of the tour’s “battle of the bands” concept back in the promoters faces. The lights dimmed and the backing track of ‘Human Disaster’ played and the band stood at the ready, preparing for the onslaught of negativity that would be their 35 minute set. With the sound of two guitar chords from the left and right of the stage a thunderous “REST…IN…PISS” arose from the throat of Vincent and thus began the much anticipated set. opening with the first two tracks of their new album Coma Witch (Rise Records) ‘Human Disaster’ and ‘Cauterizer’ (their hit single you can hear on Liquid Metal on a daily basis) set the tone for what came next: the song ‘Beast’, with guest vocals from Matthew of Kublai Khan. Vincent, always wanting to have fun, would jump into the crowd from time to time and crowd surfers would fly over the barricade and security guard’s heads to reach out to Vincent and give him hi-fives. At one point Vincent himself crowd surfed during his own song. He called out for “more violence, more hate” and the crowd answered in a swarm of violence and brutality; just what the band wanted. I had waited all night for this set and did it deliver one-hundred fold and seemed they might be hard to top. The band played a few more popular songs including ‘JFC’ which the crowd screamed along chanting “I am the end of the world!” The Acacia Strain had overwhelming crowd support and left everyone wanting more.
With the attitude of a cage fighter entering the ring, hidden behind a black and white scarf iconic to the new album’s artwork and band merch, Frankie and the rest of Emmure (joined by Adam Pierce formerly of All Shall Perish on the drums) came out with screeching guitars to open up their set of hit songs with overpowering energy. Frankie’s hip-hop style dance moves were fantastic to watch and his hype as a frontman created a crowd frenzy. With intense hate, anger and emotion in his eyes, Frankie screamed out every lyric with the passion they deserved. Songs such as ‘Solar Flare’, ‘Homicide’, ‘Drug Dealer Friend’, ‘R2 Deepthroat’, ‘Children of Cyberton’, ‘MDMA’, their new hit song ‘A Gift, A Curse’ and coming out for an encore with ‘When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong’. A lot of Emmure’s songs were very emotional and powerful to watch live and every time they are as entertaining and amazing as the last.
The Acacia Strain and Emmure did incredible jobs headlining and had a very strong fan following who was made up of die hard fans craving for more even after they were finished. A very impressive show indeed, so impressive we even drove all the way to CT to see it again!
WORDS: ANDREW FRANCIS
PHOTOS BY EMMA PARSONS PHOTOGRAPHY
Ostensibly genreless Chicopee demolishers in The Acacia Strain has been on the warpath since 2001, consistently releasing music that front man Vincent Bennet insists isn’t deathcore, a label which has, as recent internet history dictates, become one to avoid. Indeed, in a world of 7 billion people, originality is hard to come by. This being TAS’ (un)lucky seventh studio release, they’ve shown that there’s more than one way to skin a human alive, persevering after the loss of faithful six-string executioner DL Laskiewicz. With a title and cover art that could very well belong on a sludge/doom metal album, though following with the recent theme of morbid birds, it was hard to predict how the band could follow up the impossibly heavy Death is the Only Mortal, a veritable feast of down-tuned, low tempo aggression at its meanest. With Coma Witch, we’re still in dangerously heavy territory, and, as proven by a track record of inventive metal/hardcore bruising, there’s some actual music churning ‘neath the chugs.
When one thinks of The Acacia Strain, it’s hard not to immediately recall their famous, though thankfully terminated, beef with Emmure over who came up with drop-B misogyny first. If anything, this has taken away from a truly objective look at the band’s music, which is miles beyond what Emmure and their cuckold fascination can be worth. It doesn’t matter who made it up; TAS is doing it consistently better. They’re essentially regarded as hardcore’s answer to polyrhythm polymaths in Sweden’s Meshuggah, and Coma Witch does little to quiet this discussion. ‘Send Help’, much like ‘Woah! Shut it Down’ from The Dead Walk, opens with a killer off-kilter groove, accented by eerie leads, a technique that the band seems to be experimenting with more than ever. Continent and Wormwood were a successful welding of beatdown brutality and enough melody to taste, so it was a good move on their part to pursue this direction. ‘Holy Walls of the Vatican’, one of the overall fastest psalms, even shows Vincent Bennett channeling the bark of Travis of Cattle Decapitation alongside his usual roar.
While the mainly exploring TAS’ versatility, it’s easy to hear the callbacks to previous works; the aforementioned ‘Send Help’, and ‘VVorld Demise’ (feat. Brendan of Incendiary) bringing in a leitmotif of sorts by altering the tempo and pitch of the chorus from Continent’s ‘Skynet’, to pleasing results. The lyrics, if you’ve listened to any other release by TAS (seriously, pick one) haven’t changed much; Vincent still hates everyone and wants them to all to suffer. Any of their lines could go on the back of a shirt as a quote, really. The use of bone-chilling, nihilistic and murderous samples is still effective as it always has been in framing the violence the band embodies. None of the songs are too long or too short, and not hurting for variety either. Disc 2, featuring the 28 minute epic ‘Observe’, is like ‘Tactical Nuke’ from Wormwood had a bastard child with Pig Destroyer’s ‘Natasha’. Massive breakdowns, though now swimming in light leads,with world-ending clips of dialogue, ambient passages, and a sorrowful string quartet to conclude the proceedings. One-dimensional meathead hardcore, this band is not.