AcaciaThis is an album I have been trying to put internet pen to paper down for a while but it keeps making me to come back for another listen and it is not a short album either. Acacia on paper sound like a very simplistic premise. Hailing from Sweden the band pretty much rose from the remains of Livsnekad who after a couple of well received EP’ s and album changed their name before presenting this as debut album under new moniker. With this in mind we also have ex members of Shining Sweden, Level Above Human and a slew of other acts on board here. So one perhaps might be expecting a slice of depressive suicidal black metal but as the five lengthy tracks unveil there is plenty more going on here.

We have both calm and tranquil sounding clean male and female vocals on the shorter opening number ‘Död mans mask’ and it is a soothing embrace that the listener is caught up in before harsher sounds come to the fore on ‘Förnimmelsens lund af längtan.’ The way this ebbs in and is suddenly met by craggy and hoary vocals one could be mistaken for thinking they were now listening to the likes of Evoken, this has the feel of funeral doom about it. Vocals are supplied by no less than four band members and so are naturally going to be versatile as we move into parts that remind me of the likes of Novembre. I cannot help thinking this sounds Italian at times musically but perhaps this is more down to my own ignorance, naturally lyrically things are all on Swedish.

Throughout the album there is a constant sense of change as long passages move from one segment to another. Yes there are parts that could be considered DSBM but there are also a lot of relaxed periods that are if anything shoegaze and are a bit reminiscent of the likes of Amesoeurs and Alcest. There’s no rush as songs unspool over running times of anything up to 17 minutes and as they do they take you through a wide array of emotions. You could settle down and dream along in a warm glow as the gentler parts soothe (they even manage to get away with some bird chirping) before suddenly being jolted like an electric shock has been delivered for a sudden violent flurry. There are also some really good scorching, progressive guitar passages amidst everything making the density of the songs even harder to simply pigeonhole.  The rough and rugged strains with barked vocals of the last title track number is probably the most accessible and structured part of the album as it really does get beneath the skin and keeps things flowing without going off on too many tangents. Of course that’s not to say it doesn’t deliver a few surprises before conclusion.

This is no everyday album due to the fact that it really does make you work hard to focus on it, the marriage of fragility and brutality works really well if you are prepared to do so. That said if you put it on in the background you can no doubt drift in and out but won’t get the true depth of the music. It’s one to come back to occasionally and relive… well till death do us part of course and obscure though this maybe to us outside Scandinavia it is well worth tracking down.

(7/10 Pete Woods)