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The Acacia Strain is an American metalcore band. A mainstay of the New England function hall and club scene in the early 2000s, their relentless live schedule caught the attention of the right people and helped bring them to international attention as one of the biggest and most influential heavy acts of the 2000s, and while their most successful days are behind them, they have been happy to embrace their current status as a legendary name that has the luxury of being able to do niche tours that still draw well.

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Formed in Chicopee, Massachusetts in 2001 by Vincent Bennett (vocals), Daniel "DL" Laskiewicz, Daniel Daponde, and Chris Daniele (guitars), Karrie Whitfield (bass), and Ben Abert (drums), they very quickly built up a local reputation over the course of 2002 and released ...And Life Is Very Long during the year to have something more than a demo to sell and pass around. By 2004, their relentless gigging across Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and eastern New York had earned them a deal with Prosthetic Records, and 3750, their debut on the label, was released that year, though Witfeld had left at some point in 2003 and was briefly replaced by Jeanne Sagan before Seth Coleman filled the slot on a more permanent basis in 2004. Ben Abert also left at some point within 2004 and was replaced by Kevin Boutot the following year. The band steadily built up their reputation through heavy touring over the next year, and after Chris Daniele left in 2005, they opted to remain a five-piece. 2006 brought The Dead Walk, their breakthrough album, along with the departures of Daponde and Coleman; the former was not replaced, while Jack Strong took the latter's place. 2007 brought some truly relentless touring that built them up into a truly huge name, which was reflected by the greatly increased sales of 2008's Continent, and the machine rolled onward through 2009 and into 2010, which saw the release of Wormwood, their fifth full-length. Laskiewicz stopped touring around this time as well and various fill-ins began to take the guitar slot, and after one final album in 2012, he formally left the band completely. Devin Shidaker and Richard Gomez (ex-Molotov Solution) filled the spot, and the band quickly got Above/Below, a two-song EP, out to offer a taste of the new lineup. Coma Witch, the first full-length with the new lineup, was released later in 2014, and after the initial round of touring, Jack Strong left in 2015 and was replaced by their longtime friend Griffin Landa. Gomez then left the following year, with Tom Smith taking his place, and Gravebloom, their first full-length with Landa, was released in the summer of 2017. Another round of touring followed, including a ten-year anniversary tour of Continent in 2018, and it stands to reason that they will continue on in similar fashion for the foreseeable future.

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Discography:

  • 2001 Demo
  • ...And Life Is Very Long (2002)
  • 3750 (2004)
  • The Dead Walk (2006)
  • Continent (2008)
  • The Most Known Unknown (2010) (DVD)
  • Wormwood (2010)
  • Servant in the Place of Truth (2012) (single)
  • Death Is the Only Mortal (2012)
  • Money for Nothing (2013) (EP)
  • Above/Below (2013) (EP)
  • Coma Witch (2014)
  • The Depression Sessions (2016) (split with Thy Art Is Murder and Fit For An Autopsy)
  • Gravebloom (2017)
  • It Comes in Waves (2019)

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YOUR TROPE IS ABOUT TO COME CRASHING DOWN!:

  • Absentee Actor: Daniel Laskiewicz stopped touring with the band in 2009 and remained a studio member until 2013, when he finally opted to step down.
  • Audience Participation Song: "The Impaler": "WE DESTROY THE THINGS THAT MAKE THE WORLD GO 'ROUND! WE ARE THE REASON THERE IS BLOOD ON THE GROUND!"
  • Bald of Awesome: The entire band save for Kevin Boutot. Vincent in particular started balding at some point in his early twenties and has since gone back and forth between shaving his head and letting what little hair remains grow out.
  • Big Fun: Vincent Bennett and Devin Shidaker, though Vincent massively slimmed down in the late 2010s.
  • Concept Album: None of their albums tell clearly-explained stories, but their later output has overarching themes:
    • Death Is the Only Mortal: Mortality and Vincent's fear of dying.
    • Coma Witch: A fictional story inspired by Vincent's struggle with a sleep disorder.
    • Gravebloom: A rumination on aging and the realities of entering middle age inspired by an argument that Vincent had about the future of the band and whether there was any point to continuing it.
  • Deathcore: They have been an absolutely massive influence on the genre, and many of the heavier deathcore acts have cited them as a major influence, but they vehemently deny the label themselves.
  • Distinct Double Album: Coma Witch has two discs: the first one is in their typical style, while the second is the nearly half-hour-long sludge metal track "Observer".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: ...And Life Is Very Long was significantly more technical and had prominent melodic death metal and mathcore elements that they downplayed on 3750 and completely eliminated on The Dead Walk, and Vincent had a higher, raspier shout instead of his trademark hoarse bellow.
  • Epic Rocking: "Observer" (27:32), "Cold Gloom" (9:14), "Names" (8:47), "Sun Poison and Skin Cancer" (8:30), "House of Abandon" (6:58), and "The Behemoth" (6:37).
  • Genre-Busting: They mix metalcore, death metal, djent, beatdown hardcore, and sludge metal to create a sound that is highly accessible, but refuses to adhere to less general labels.
  • God Is Evil: The core idea behind the concept of It Comes in Waves: gods really do exist as extradimensional beings, and they let us worship them and create the concept of religion because they derive sick pleasure from watching us destroy each other in their name.
  • Hardcore Punk: A major part of their sound, and, as of the 2010s, it is the scene that they choose to associate with the most.
  • Hollywood New England: From Western Massachusetts, and most of their early shows were split between function halls (primarily in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire), Fat Cat's (a club in Springfield where virtually every major New England heavy act in the early 2000s got their start), and the Palladium; while they are currently based out of Upstate New York (more specifically the Albany area), they are still known as a New England band.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: It Comes in Waves is a heavily post-metal and sludge metal-influenced album with semi-frequent clean vocals, lengthy subdued passages, almost no breakdowns, and a more guttural vocal approach from Vincent. Word of God is that it was a one-off that they had wanted to do for a while as a way of exploring a different set of influences, and is not reflective of a future change in sound.
  • Metalcore: One of the most famous bands in the genre; while they were associated with the melodic metalcore scene early in their career and had prominent elements of it on ...And Life Is Very Long, they never really were a full-fledged example of it even at their lightest, and they had completely abandoned whatever melodic elements they had by The Dead Walk.
  • Metal Scream: Vincent Bennett is a firm Type 1, sporting a very distinctive hoarse midranged bellow.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Solid 10 for most of their career, though their early material was a 9.
  • New Sound Album: Several:
    • 3750 greatly downplayed the melodic death metal and mathcore elements of their early material (though it didn't entirely erase them) and had a more abrasive sound overall.
    • The Dead Walk completely eliminated the melodic elements of their earlier material and fully established their Signature Style.
    • Wormwood introduced eight-strings and further emphasized the beatdown and djent elements, creating a sound that they have kept mostly unchanged since then.
  • Shout-Out: Their song titles have many of these:
  • Signature Style: Stuttering open-note chugging with repetitive, mantra-like vocal patterns, a bouncing, insistent rhythm, and sparse, eerie lead themes that create background textures over the rhythm tracks.
  • Special Guest: Lots and lots. Guest spots have included Mike McTernan (Damnation AD), Lou Tanuis (On Paths of Torment), Phil Labonte, Keith Holuk (Ligeia), Nate Johnson, Mitch Lucker, Rusty Kupyar (Torn Asunder), James "Human Furnace" Bulloch (Ringworm), Jamey Jasta, Bruce LePage (100 Demons), Kyle Chard (Born Low), Kirk Windstein, Max Cavalera, Brendan Garrone (Incendiary), Sven de Caluwe, Kobayashi Hiroyuki (Loyal to the Grave), Matt Honeycutt (Kublai Khan), and Rob Fusco (Most Precious Blood).
  • Start My Own: Vincent Bennett started the (probably defunct) hardcore band Cockpunch! as a side project in the late 2000s.
  • Take That!: Subverted with "Skynet"; while it was commonly believed to have been a shot at Emmure, Vincent has repeatedly denied this. Nonetheless, Frankie Palmeri fired back with "R2DEEPTHROAT", which kicked off a feud that finally ended when the two got into a fistfight in Albany,note  then called a truce and wound up doing a tour together to signify the burying of the hatchet.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Vincent is open about his love for virtually everything from Stewart's (a local Upstate New York-based convenience store chain clustered around the Capital District and Adirondacks that is known for its locally-sourced dairy products).
  • Vocal Evolution: Vincent's vocals were initially a high, raspy shout that was typical of the Western Mass sound before he switched to his famous hoarse bellow, which gradually became higher over the years due to general vocal deterioration.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: While most of Vincent Bennett's lyrics tell clear stories, the actual subject matter is generally ambiguous, and he has typically denied that it has any actual significance or is anything beyond a creative writing exercise (especially "Skynet", which he explicitly denied was about Frankie Palmeri and Emmure).
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