Slow Decay, the new album by The Acacia Strain, started as a slow release. Momentum was being rolled in from their earlier 2020 album It Comes In Waves, which was a searing turn of direction for the Rise Records veterans. They came out with two songs at a time, each with a letter that indicated the title of the new LP.
Vocalist Vincent Bennett said of the staggering new project: “The whole concept is reality breaking down around us. We’ve done our time on earth, broken through the boundaries of what reality actually is, and we’re now witnessing our collective descent into madness. Lyrically and sonically, everything reflects that.”
Listening to Slow Decay completely sends that message. The songs are violently bludgeoning compositions of decomposition. It is beautiful when an album delivers each song in the vein of the theme they present. Drop F mania sonically buries the listener underground and there is no escape from start to finish. It very much sounds like rot and viscera are all around. Flowers wilt, worms twist and turn on bodies of elk, and the sky is burnt. The Acacia Strain do an immensely thorough job making sure the album sounds like a hellscape. It’s a soundtrack to the chaos around us currently.
There are incredible features on the record too. Jess Nyx from Mortality Rate screams the curse of a coven on “The Lucid Dream”. It’s almost bone chilling to hear. The phantasm of Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante’s voice at the end of “One Thousand Painful Stings” is almost a sirenial relief after the tirade of the riffs prior.
The absolute hardest songs on Slow Decay are “Solace and Serenity,” “Seeing God” (featuring Aaron Heard), and the final nail in the coffin “EARTH WILL BECOME DEATH”. “EWBD” also features the most crushing breakdown of 2020 and is a monumentally twisted vocal performance by Bennett.
Only two songs corroded through to uncertainty. “Birds of Paradise, Birds of Prey” and “I breathed in the smoke deeply it tasted like death and I smiled”, which is a title Fiona Apple would chuckle at. They fit the apocalyptic hopelessness of the album but don’t offer any fresh song structures.
Slow Decay is currently charting at #1 on the Billboard Rock list and for good reason. The Acacia Strain proved to push the envelope and create a thanatophobic portrait of despair. It is absolutely a must-listen.