Dr. Acula: Nation

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Dr. Acula: Nation
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Dr. Acula: Nation
Deathcore, Metalcore
Victory Records
June 19th, 2012
Release length: 32:49
Myspace
Dr. Acula has been putting out some surprisingly good material as of late, feeding into the whole Deathcore scene with a “party” atmosphere as some, including their label, seem to be saying. Since Social Event of the Century, they stepped out of the immature Deathcore realm and brought catchy, energetic, headbang worthy material to the forefront of the growing stale style. Now, after two successful releases with this new approach, they return with Nation. But, did they stay strong in this mature interpretation of their sound, or have they reverted back to their old ways?

Much like previous offerings, the production quality to Nation is, for the most part, handled quite well. The bass is at just the right level that it becomes important in keeping things heavy, can be felt, and distinctly heard without interfering with the rest of the material. The guitars have a decent enough deeper tone as well, but are not afraid to belt out some higher pitched chords, much of the time with a decent distortion that keeps it edge while moderately clean. The snares carry a tight lower sound to them and a booming thud to the bass kicks, while the cymbals are a little washed out. These are largely masked by the other instruments, so outside emptier songs or breakdowns, such as in “Dressed for Transylvania in the Boiling Weather,” you won’t really notice. The vocals are a mixture of shouting, guttural, and a higher rasp that works well with the energy the band brings with them.

There’s actually some newer ideas incorporated here that fans will quickly pick up on. First of all, Nation may have a similar energy to it that previous offerings had, but it ends up a little more on the serious side. It also uses catchy Metalcore hooks and even breakdowns. On top of that, it has a running concept of a voice coming through static that basically bleeds in and out of songs to tie all of them together with a terrorism warning. Amid this, there’s plenty of great songs to choose from. “Be Careful What You Wish For” makes for a fantastic introduction that establishes the plot of the release perfectly, going into “Heavy Handed,” which is just an intense and enthusiastic offering with pounding drums and catchy Metalcore riffs that immediately make you want to start dancing in the pit. The gang chants are volatile and the breakdowns feel natural to the varying slower and faster paces. This stands out well as one of the more important offerings, though it seems as if the group tried to make the listener aware of their changes by cramming all of them together at once. It still works out when moving over to “Keep on Running in Place.” This offering kicks low pitch chugging chords right at the listener that immediately will have your head banging along while later bridges and verses offer up some more chaotic guitar and drum work to feed into the Science Fiction assault nature of the album.

“Suburban Superstar” is a rather aggressive track that continues to build up tension throughout. It never seems to go anywhere, sticking with a mid-tempo pace, but the bass-heavy riffs pack a groove you can easily bang your head along to without a problem. The slowing pace towards the end feels natural, as if either starting to lose grip on sanity, or dying down from a steady attack until you collapse as the energy fades. It’s an interesting song nonetheless, and there’s enough catchy material to hook the listener before “Areola 51” finally kicks in after yet another static audio transmission. However, this one seems littered with breakdowns that often intrude on generic slower-paced Metalcore.

Unfortunately, it’s around the time of “Dressed for Transylvania in the Boiling Weather” that things do start to slow down a bit in many ways. The music isn’t too bad at this point, in fact this track offers plenty of aggressive moments that will find your head banging along, though there are times that you’ll feel like you’re listening to early Mudvayne. It all feels a little more generic and starting to lose that enthusiasm that makes the previous songs so great. Unfortunately, some of the memorable melodic hooks incorporated previously on “Ironic Enclosure” and other latter songs seems to be dulled in various degrees, and the issues with the cymbals do come to light. But, aside that, the static and beeping of the emergency broadcast system really starts to grow old pretty damn fast. It gets to the point that you’ll listen to a song and swear you’re hearing that annoying buzzing going on in the background behind the music, which can instantly pull you out of the atmosphere trying to figure it out, and next thing you know you’re not even paying attention to the music anymore, but to your brain trying to decipher what’s distortion and what’s literally noise. This is largely just due to how much they abuse it for the sake of the concept, though “Dressed for Transylvania in the Boiling Weather” uses an audio sample from an early Dracula film at the end that has nothing to do with it other than the title of the song has Transylvania in it.

Nation is a step in a new direction for Dr. Acula. Not only has the group largely left behind it’s Deathcore roots for a more Metalcore approach, but the band also tries to tie in what seems like a terrorism plot throughout, turning this into a more mature conceptual piece than anything they’ve done before. Fans of the group might feel a bit slighted by this change, but overall it isn’t too bad. It does lose steam here and there, finding a few generic offerings scattered about, but the somewhat washed out cymbals and the abused constant cutting in and out of radio static, the voices pushing the plot along, and the emergency broadcast system can really mess with your head, which in turn can really hurt the overall experience of the release. There’s no denying some of these faults do get old really quick, but overall there’s still some solid songs that you can really get behind, as well as shows promise for Dr. Acula‘s growth as a band, and the potential for their future recordings.

01. Be Careful What You Wish For – 0:48
02. Heavy Handed – 2:10
03. Keep On Running in Place – 3:03
04. The Party is Over – 2:29
05. Ironic Enclosure – 3:31
06. Dressed for Transylvania in the Boiling Weather – 3:26
07. Nation – 3:03
08. Robot People from Hell – 2:02
09. Suburban Superstar – 2:54
10. Areola 51 – 3:37
11. Citizen’s Arrest – 2:30
12. Thinner – 3:16
Overall Score: 6.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Victory Records.