Death Is the Only Mortal may ultimately be more of the same from The Acacia Strain, but it does mark a couple firsts in their decade-long career. It’s their first self-produced record, as guitarist Daniel Laskewicz has apparently spent enough time in the studio with the likes of Adam Dutkiewicz and Zuess to learn a thing or two about knob-twiddling. It’s also their Rise Records debut, and consequently the first Rise release I’ve ever purchased. How ironic is it that one of the labels responsible for saturating Deathcore with sub-mediocrity to the point of self-parody now boasts one of the genre’s most well-respected elite? In all fairness to the band, I’m sure they’d prefer to be as disassociated with the Deathcore tag as possible, but since their music bears the extreme sonic weight of Death Metal and the groove of more modern Hardcore, I don’t know what else to call it. Maybe Hard Death? That’s definitely what frontman Vincent “You Don’t Want to Shoot Me” Bennett wants you to experience. I can’t recall ever being more on the same page mentally with a lyricist: “Stop chasing your dreams, they will never come true / Your god has fallen from grace, I wish he was real so I could spit in his face / Life is a nightmare, death is a gift / I hate myself more than you ever could / With every breath I pray for death / I welcome death with open arms / I always knew I would die alone / Let the icecaps melt, may none survive…” Doesn’t leave much to the imagination, does it? Still, these are my verbatim thoughts on a daily basis. Musically the band continues in the same crushing vein as recent output. Sludgy sewage-drenched bends, palm-muted staccato pummeling, and a bass tone that could frighten Thanos all fuel the stomp-and-chop of what is essentially a 45-minute breakdown. Now I know how those slabs of beef in Rocky felt. They do add some uncharacteristic-yet-refreshing melodic nuances this time. Check out the somber ending of “Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow,” the explosive chorus on “Brain Death,” the eerie break on “Time & Death & God,” and the swirling, atmospheric undercurrents of “The Chambered Nautilus” and “House of Abandon.” Nice touches all. Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein drops by for a guest vocal spot on “Go to Sleep.” Not a huge fan of his voice, but it works surprisingly well with the Acacia aesthetic. As with all of their albums, it’s the density and brute strength of their sound and Bennett’s sour, guttural-yet-understandable praises to Negativity that steal the show. Happy faggots beware (I hope the rats eat you alive).
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