"The heaviest album of the year. Period." So says the ad copy for The Acacia Strain's third disc, The Dead Walk. And while I'm reasonably sure that's skewed for advertising, even with the relatively small number of heavy releases I've caught this year, The Dead Walk certainly is a pretty punishing album.
Too bad it's also dreadfully boring.
The disc starts off with a short intro track before getting into the album proper on "Burnface," which starts off with a vaguely Korn-y guitar tone. Already not off to a great start, the song pretty quickly gets bogged down mostly in low open-string chugging, pounding kick drums, and the occasional squealing second guitar. Vincent Bennett's vocals are of the generic metalcore growl variety, fairly monotonous and without anything to distinguish the band from every other one in the saturated genre. I have visions of the writing process of this CD being the five members standing around in a room pounding things as hard and fast as they can, without much thought of what else goes into songwriting.
It would be one thing if the band had just poorly ordered the disc and were able to redeem themselves on later tracks; unfortunately, "Burnface" pretty much sets you up for everything that's to come. There are a few better moments on the disc, like a harmonized run on "4x4," or a thrashier riff that's surprisingly interesting on "Predator: Never Prey" which also features the only departure from the monotone growl--into nearly a black metal scream. Lovely. If you want to turn up loud that will pound your head in, I suppose The Dead Walk will get the job done, but if you want something that has any more redeeming musical quality than played-on-actual-instruments, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.