Acacia
Tills döden skiljer oss åt

I had wanted to give this album the attention it deserved last year, but circumstances conspired against it. The digital promo impressed me enough to want a physical copy for review. Unfortunately, North American distribution was nonexistent, so it quickly became lost in the stampede of amazing 2013 releases that were available in US distros. But, now that the dust has settled, Tills döden skiljer oss åt (Till Death Do Us Part) has regained my attention. I still haven’t come across a hard copy that doesn’t involve outrageous overseas shipping and conversion rates, so digital will have to do for now.

Acacia is a new name for a not-so-new group of moody Swedes. They’ve actually been together since 2007, releasing one full-length and two EPs as Livsnekad. I don’t know the reason for the name change. Maybe it has something to do with their previous moniker’s resemblance to the words “lives naked.” Or, they could just want a fresh start, which is exactly what they’ll get from me here since I never heard their previous material.

It wouldn’t be hard to lump this in with the current crop of romantically downcast, black-rooted metal/rock spearheaded by Alcest, but there’s not really anything post or shoegazey about this. Acacia’s approach is more in line with the mid to late ‘90s stylings of Novembre, EverEve, and even Theatre of Tragedy with their affinity for female vocals and piano. As you’re probably realizing at this point, this is brazenly dramatic music, but something sets it apart from the throngs of gothic imitators that took the style to embarrassing levels of sugary flamboyance. Amongst all of the acoustics, synths, and silky voices is some seriously depressive menace à la early Forgotten Tomb.

Like a beautiful sunrise over a scorched wasteland, “Dods man mask” ascends with piano-driven elegance and smooth, somber, Swedish voices. Even though it doesn’t contain any metal, this is not just some unnecessary filler to exercise your skip button. The following four lengthy tracks carve similarly dark paths through the bleak landscape, but each one contains pockets of sullen beauty, propulsive rage, and everything in between.

Every band member’s performance on this album is exceptional in some way. The guitar work of Andreas Thorén and Christian Larsson (both also handle bass and vocals) overflows with emotion as it effortlessly shifts from sorrowful melody to anxious tremolo and back again. The two guitarists’ extended trade-off solos in “Amourens Redoxreaktion” are an especially moving highlight. Drummer Richard Schill has a background in brutal/tech death (most notably, Spawn of Possession) and it shows. He fills the album with an energy that you don’t often get with this style and handles everything from plodding doom to intense blasting with aplomb. Seiya Ogino’s sensitive sprinkling of piano adds just the right amount of fragility, as do the beautiful female vocals provided by Moa Thorén. And, the various male vocals provided by one or both guitarists are just as expressive as their playing. Clean, gruff, shrieking, guttural…all are powerfully executed. There was a lot of room for error on this album, but they managed to get everything right. My only nitpick would be that the use of crying baby samples to open “Tills Döden Skiljer Oss Åt” is a little heavy-handed, but it’s easily overlooked.

There’s a lot of depth here to absorb. And, at roughly an hour in length, it risks being too long for its own good, but not a minute of that is wasted and the unpredictable, linear song structures prevent any chance of boredom. If you appreciate melancholia, this is something that’s worth the time it takes to fully grasp. Now, if they can just improve their distribution for those of us who prefer physical copies…

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
January 29th, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: jgummydummy

    Ordered for 8.5 euros an a few more for shipping to canada.pretty cheap actualy……


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