Both the title and the cover artwork of The Acacia Strain‘s new record Gravebloom tell a tale of destruction and rebirth. For vocalist Vincent Bennett, the journey that the iconic phoenix represents has been an extremely personal and turbulent one.
In the cozy, dim, musty room known as The Studio at Webster Hall, a frenzied soldout crowd gathered on December 12th to let loose and blow off steam to the varying hardcore sounds of Kublai Khan, Fit For An Autopsy, Counterparts and The Acacia Strain on their Tune Low Die Slow Tour. Leaving out the inefficiency of the venue’s staff, which kept concert goers waiting to enter for over forty five minutes, The Studio is the perfect host for shows like this. There was no shortage of stage climbers, crowd surfers and mic grabbers. The low, crowded stage and the lack of barricades help make shows here intimate, family affairs.
My night began with Kublai Khan, although local New York band Newcomer was supposed to have played ahead of them. I will never know. The opinionated Texan band named after a merciless Mongol emperor blasted their hopeful message of change and togetherness without over-the-top showmanship. As much as I love watching manic stage antics, Matt Honeycutt’s (vocals) onstage presence is enough to hold anyone’s attention without it. This band is about what needs to be said, and Honeycutt says it well. Bodies went flying and when Kublai Khan performed “Color Code” there could not have been more energy flowing through The Studio.
Fit For An Autopsy came on next and the room could not have felt smaller. The eclectic combination of deathcore blast beats and melodic death metal grooves saw the pit expand and consume the vast majority of the space. You could feel the anger radiating from it and the stage. There was no room in The Studio for anything other than the palpable disgust in humanity that is a mainstay in FFAA’s music.
Fit For An Autopsy’s endurance is remarkable. Joe Badolato (vocals) steadily released thunderous low growls as his bandmates furiously played their speeding instrumentals through the set with minimal pauses, one of which was to call a fight that had broken out as “pussy shit” that no one wanted to see, and another to announce “Out to Sea” to a cheering crowd.
The cheers continued as the lively, bouncy Counterparts excited The Studio with their relentless energy and upbeat sounds. I didn’t know what to expect from the Canadians, but I wasn’t disappointed. Their metalcore sounds were in cheery (well, cheerier) opposition to the lower, heavier bands before them. The most impressive aspect of their set was the crowd’s insanity. I can’t remember the last time I saw a band that wasn’t headlining make the entire venue move.
The crowd turned it up almost to the ceiling when Massachusetts deathcore veterans The Acacia Strain unleashed their hopeless, godless and ruthless auditory punishment. Vincent Bennett (vocals) lugged around the stage with an empty, crazed stare spitting up and down, throwing water on the crowd. When he spoke between songs he sounded honest and caring. During songs, he was the embodiment of hate. When he bellowed, “I am the end of the world,” he was surrounded by fans on stage shouting it as rabidly as he was. Other songs played were recent and old favorites including “JFC” and “4×4” as well as songs from Coma Witch. When you’re only playing hits the crowd, will always lose their shit.
Bennett walked off stage leaving the rest of the band to cool down the crowd with instrumentals. As I walked out I passed a guy with a blood-covered fist showing a friend, claiming none of the blood was his. That’s what an evening in a cramped room with hardcore bands will do to you. The tour is now over, but three out of the four bands are on the rise. Keep an eye out for Kublai Khan, Fit For An Autopsy, and Counterparts while you continue enjoying The Acacia Strain.
by David Marulanda