Vincent Bennett, frontman for Massachusetts metallers the Acacia Strain, knows he can't sing, and he's perfectly fine with that. If he's not belching out his lyrics, he's not opening his mouth onstage or in the studio. Cleaning up his gut-spewing vocal style simply isn't an option for him — even if he did want to embrace the trend, like so many of his contemporaries have.
"To be honest, I've never thought about doing that," Bennett confessed last week, as the band's van was making its way through Oregon, where Acacia had to stop as an unexpected blizzard passed. "I just don't see us as that kind of band — at all. It's one of those things where a lot of bands do it, and they get away with it and it sounds really f---ing good and kids are psyched on it. Then there's those bands that do it, and everybody gets really f---ing bummed. I just don't ever see us being that kind of band. I understand that if we did do it, we might sell some more records, or if I sang about Jesus and being in love all the time, how we might sell some more records. But that's not the kind of band we are. I think our fans would be bummed out if we even tried to do that. Hell, I'd be bummed out."
So, basically, don't expect any sea changes on the band's forthcoming LP, Continent, which the group recently finished tracking and which is scheduled for an August 19 release. But you can expect to hear a more mature Acacia Strain, he said.
"We sound pretty much the same, but we change things up at the same time," he said. "The old fans will definitely think in their head, 'This is the Acacia Strain,' but the new people, and even people who weren't fans before, they'll come away from it saying, 'Wow, they really did mature as a band.' We have changed a lot of influences for the new record, so it's pretty different for everybody in the band. I'm excited about it."
Produced by Zeuss (Shadows Fall, Hatebreed), Continent will include the cuts "Dr. Doom" and "Skynet." It is Acacia's "darkest" effort to date, said Bennett, and even features the Human Furnace, of Ringworm fame, on the track "Baby Buster."
"For this record, I basically exiled myself from everything just to write the lyrics," Bennett explained. "It's definitely the most work we've put into a record, and it's the only record that I'm actually excited to say I'm proud of."
Continent is a conceptual work of sorts: The lyrics revolve around a single man who has a disastrous effect on the rest of humankind.
"It's about a person purposely pulling themselves away from everything, and exiling themselves from humanity — just sitting back and watching," he said. "And then, this person comes back to the forefront, and becomes the apocalyptic reason for the end of the world. This one person just completely wipes out everything — all life on the planet — and ends up being the last person to survive all of this. So, he just walks the Earth for the rest of his life, alone."
Writing material for Continent did present numerous challenges, Bennett said. But the biggest struggle for Acacia was coming up with "original ideas — especially given the genre we're in. The market's basically flooded, and coming up with new ideas that bands haven't already done, or bands aren't currently doing, it's just really rough.
"We're just trying to pull through and make our own way," the vocalist continued. "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel, and we're not coming out saying, 'We're the most original band of our genre.' But we are trying to breathe new life into it. A lot of bands out there are just nailing the coffin shut on the whole extreme music industry, and we're trying not to do that. It's such a mess now. Everybody's band is getting signed, and there are 500 bands on each label, and they're all doing the same thing. It's hard to do sh-- that hasn't been done, so we're just trying to mix it up a little bit."
This fall, Bennett said, the Acacia Strain will be touring ad nauseam — first, as an opening act, and then, closer to the end of the year, heading out for a headlining run of their own. He wouldn't discuss the band's touring plans at length, because both tours were still being mapped out and confirmed. But whenever Acacia is done logging miles, Bennett said, he'll return to his other band, Co--punch.
"The dudes are at home right now, and they'll be recording some stuff while I'm out on the road, and then I'll just go back and record vocals," he said. "We're going to be putting out a 10 7-inch series over the next year, and we're doing an album of covers. We want to do 'Wolverine Blues' by Entombed, 'Mandibles' by E. Town Concrete, and we're going to do a NOFX cover, and a Misfits cover.
"Co--punch is my fun band," he said. "It helps me get away from the mediocrity of serious touring life. It's my hobby band — it's always good to have something on the side, to just get away from it all."
The rest of the week's metal news:
In case you missed it, MTV News was in San Antonio, Texas, last weekend, for the Sacrifice of the Nazarene Child festival, where Profanatica performed for the first time since 2001. ...
Perhaps the week's best news came on Wednesday, when it was revealed that the reunited Carcass had finally booked a U.S. gig. Necrophagist, Aborted and Suffocation will open for Carcass on September 6 in New York. Tickets go on sale July 11. The band is expected to announce additional American dates in the coming months. ...
Finally, reunited metallers Overcast have cemented a release date for their Reborn to Kill Again set, which will feature re-recorded versions of more than a dozen of the influential band's classic tunes, along with two previously unreleased tracks. The effort will drop August 19 through Metal Blade Records, nearly two years after it was recorded. ...
Glenn Danzig's annual Blackest of the Black tour returns this October, with Danzig headlining, of course. Dimmu Borgir, Moonspell, Winds of Plague and Skeletonwitch have been tapped as direct support. The trek gets under way October 9 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and runs through November 10 in San Francisco. ...
Thrash outfit Warbringer are on the hunt for a new drummer after amicably parting with Ryan Bates recently. Bates will vacate following their scheduled tour dates. Think you could take over behind the kit? Head on over to the band's MySpace page, and let 'em know you're interested. ...
Himsa have called it quits after 10 years as a band. "Having sacrificed everything we had in order to ensure the band's survival, it's time to let it go," the band said in a statement. "We're getting along, we've toured, and we're fine. It's all good. We're leaving it at that." Himsa play their final show August 16 at the El Corazon in their native Seattle.