The Acacia Strain

Gravebloom

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The Western Massachusetts deathcore veterans' eighth studio long-player, Gravebloom opens appropriately with a track called "Worthless," a turgid, dirge-like rumination on self-esteem that's so relentlessly bleak it almost feels like a parody. It's fitting because the Acacia Strain have been tossing blackened coins into the bottomless pit of despair for nearly two decades, and while little effort has been made to expand or even reign in the band's sound, innovation has never been the point. Gravebloom, like nearly every album in the genre, is about distilling apoplexy into song, and with that in mind, it's hard to argue against its efficacy. Lead single "Bitter Pill" and the propulsive title cut deliver the 11-track set's most kinetic moments via meaty blasts of thrash and doom, boiling evil down to its molten core via artless lyrics like "Everything I see, I kill" and "Dead in the dirt, I hope the dying took forever, I hope it fucking hurt." Words have never been the band's strong suit, but there is some horror in their childlike simplicity. Elsewhere, it's pretty much a dissonant, midtempo doom and gloom party; a four horseman-pulled food truck peddling hopelessness cakes to bubos-covered peasants in the midst of a pandemic. Fans that feasted on the band's seven previous outings and enjoyed the minerally aftertaste will likely rate Gravebloom a success, as it descends as deep or deeper into the abyss, but those with more curious palates should probably bring some snacks.

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