RANKED: The Top 25 Songs by The Acacia Strain

The Acacia Strain promo image
The Acacia Strain (Credit: Promo)

I’m going to say something that may or may not blow your mind—The Acacia Strain have existed as a band for twenty-two years. For a band with such a lengthy career, it cannot be said how truly impressive it is that they have not only maintained relevancy, but also consistently put out great music year over year. The quality of The Acacia Strain’s material has never wavered, despite decades worth of trials and obstacles (the band’s horrifying 2012 van crash; countless lineup changes; vocalist Vincent Bennett wanting to quit the band prior to 2017’s Gravebloom; etc.).

With the brand new albums Step Into The Light and Failure Will Follow, arriving on 12th May, it seems like the best possible time to reminisce back on The Acacia Strain’s best work. While it is an extremely tall task, I wanted to put together my own personal top 25 TAS songs of all time. Now, for those who actually read the intro and didn’t just skip onto the list, I will include a massive disclaimer; these are purely the opinions of someone who massively prefers the band’s newer material. In fact, there are exactly three songs from before the 2010s on this list. Make of that what you will. Let’s get into it.

25. The Impaler

From Wormwood (2010)

What better way to kick off the list than a heavy hitter from the 2010 fan favorite Wormwood? This album is known for its punishing drop-F grooves, and The Impaler is no exception. This track is headbang city, and that guitar squeal on the chorus is just *chef’s kiss.*

24. Above

From Above / Below single (2013)

Above was the band’s first track following the departure of longtime guitarist and songwriter Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz, and the arrival of at the time new guitarist Devin Shidaker. This song kicked off the more modern era of The Acacia Strain with a bang, with an onslaught of pummeling riffs, vicious growls, and a deliciously drone-y breakdown finale.

23. Nailgun

From Coma Witch (2014)

Spoiler alert—you’re going to see a lot more of 2014’s Coma Witch on this list. Nailgun is a pure breakdown bonanza, kicking you straight in the teeth with back to back-to-back kickass riffs and chugging breakdowns. You can’t have that many memorable moments in a song and not end up on an all-time best list.

22. Whale Shark

From Coma Witch (2014)

Only four songs in, we’ve arrived at what I believe to be the first “sleeper pick” of the list. Whale Shark feels like a unique composition when compared to other songs from Coma Witch. It feels riffier, slower burning, and also more drum-focused than its counterparts. All in all, it’s the pure catchiness of the guitar work that lands this deep cut on this list. Oh, and also, the song quoted the famous line from Pet Semetary before it was cool to do so.

21. Model Citizen

From Gravebloom (2017)

Like many songs on 2017’s extremely underrated Gravebloom, Model Citizen feels like it never got the recognition it deserved. The song structure and composition are fairly simple, but each section is just as hard hitting and memorable as the last. It’s the wildly sick breakdown halfway through the song that sells it for me, personally, but regardless, this song should have certainly received the single treatment.

20. Dr. Doom

From Continent (2008)

At last, we’ve finally arrived at a song that you certainly expected to find somewhere on this list. Dr. Doom is a classic, and it’s a classic for a reason. It’s blistering in pace, ferocious, and even features an extremely rare TAS guitar solo. And of course, I would be remiss to mention what is arguably one of the most memorable moments in any Acacia Strain song. I don’t even need to say any more. Four funerals, no fucking weddings.

19. Doomblade

From Death Is The Only Mortal (2012)

If there is one thing The Acacia Strain is known for, it’s their opening tracks. Don’t worry, there are more to come, but the opener to 2012’s Death Is The Only Mortal certainly makes it onto this list. The transition from the opening sample into the song’s first notes is truly eerie, and is only the beginning of this all time great song.

18. The Mouth Of The River

From Death Is The Only Mortal (2012)

What’s this, another DITOM song? Death Is The Only Mortal might not be a fan favorite album, but this is certainly a fan favorite track, and it’s easy to tell why. For starters, this thing is heavy as shit, and is the perfect showcase for this album’s incredible guitar tone. All around, fantastic song.

17. Beast

From Wormwood (2010)

You knew this one was coming when I mentioned opening tracks earlier, although I’m sure many expected it to be higher up. Don’t worry, I did too, but that’s only a testament to how many great songs this band has. From the iconic stomping intro, to Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta’s killer feature on the chorus, this song is a live show staple for a reason. If you like The Acacia Strain, you like this song, and that’s that.

16. Chinnamasta

From Slow Decay (2020)

Nearly ten songs in, we have finally arrived at the very first entry from 2020’s crusher Slow Decay. Famed for being highly reminiscent of 2008’s popular Continent, Chinnamasta features one of the most neck-breaking intros of any TAS song, along with brilliantly placed ambient leads throughout, and some of vocalist Vincent Bennett’s best deliveries to date.

15. Was

From It Comes In Waves (2019)

This is a tough one to rank, as realistically, 2019’s It Comes In Waves is meant to be enjoyed as one long, flowing track rather than an album. However, due to the nature of how the songs are split up, I can’t just put It Comes In Waves as an entry on this list. Rather, I have elected to choose the song I feel best represents this magnificent experimental project as the sole entry on this list. As a unit, this project would easily be a top five TAS song of all time, but Was lands at my number 15 spot, with its wailing siren guitars, crushing, fuzzy chugs, and intermittent The Mist samples.

14. Balboa Towers

From Continent (2008)

Balboa Towers is quite easily my favorite song off of Continent. Maybe that’s because musically it feels almost like a modern era TAS song, but regardless, this thing bangs. The breakdown in this song is earth shattering, showcasing The Acacia Strain’s uncanny ability to injure thousands of innocent show-goers in one fell swoop.

13. Abyssal Depths

From Gravebloom (2017)

I’m going to say it—Abyssal Depths is the most underrated song in The Acacia Strain’s discography. Rather than pissed and in-your-face, this song takes a more somber and melancholy approach, and it works incredibly well. There is an intrinsic sadness that is present with this song that’s hard to shake; an example of extremely well-crafted ambience and atmosphere.

12. Holy Walls Of The Vatican

From Coma Witch (2014)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—fast TAS is the best TAS. Holy Walls Of The Vatican is certainly one of the more hardcore influenced songs in The Acacia Strain’s catalogue, with its fiery riffage, heart-pounding drums, and cutting vocal delivery. There’s a reason this song is still frequently played live nearly a decade later, and it’s not only because Vincent calls us a bitch.

11. Feed A Pigeon Breed A Rat

From Slow Decay (2020)

Opening 2020’s Slow Decay, Feed A Pigeon Breed A Rat features some of The Acacia Strain’s tastiest guitar riffs to date. This thing is an absolute groovefest, maintaining a steady bounce throughout the three minute run time. It’s an all time great TAS album opener, only edged out by two still to come entries.

10. Carbomb

From 3750 (2004)

Top ten time, let’s do it. Based on the last line of the previous entry, you knew this one was coming at some point. It’s the song so beloved, The Acacia Strain played it twice per night for a time, both opening and closing the set with this masterpiece. While the band has poked fun at the song’s unrelenting popularity, I’m almost certain that even nearly 20 years layer, they still secretly enjoy playing this rager.

9. Human Disaster

From Coma Witch (2014)

Human Disaster marks the third album opening song in a row, and is in my opinion their best opening song from any of their records. I mean, come on; that opening riff? It’s just too good. The remainder of the song never let’s up either, leaving you feeling like you’ve just been run over by a steamroller. Coma Witch is an incredible album, and this song opens it up in the best way imaginable.

8. The Lucid Dream

From Slow Decay (2020)

While the band recently lost guitarist Tom Smith, this song feels like it will be one of his biggest marks on the history of The Acacia Strain. The masterful songwriting featured on this cut is mindblowing, moving swiftly from kickass riff to kickass riff. This song also features Jess Nyx of the incredible Mortailty Rate—another massive plus.

7. Bitter Pill

From Gravebloom (2017)

Listen up The Acacia Strain—it’s time to put Bitter Pill back on the setlist. Just for me, please? For a time, I considered this to be the band’s best song. It’s fallen back in the ranks slightly since then, but it still easily lands in the number seven spot. I mean, how can you argue with that absurdly heavy ending breakdown?

6. Untended Graves

From Step Into The Light (2023)

Boy, it’s taken me an awful long time to reach the current era of the band, but alas, we have arrived. Untended Graves is two minutes of unrelenting, unforgiving punishment – in a good way, of course. Chock-full of blazing riffage, slick pinch harmonics, and surging energy, this song easily cemented itself as an all time great TAS song upon its December 2022 release.

5. The Hills Have Eyes

From Wormwood (2010)

It would be absolutely criminal not to have The Hills Have Eyes in the top five. If someone were to ask “I’ve never heard The Acacia Strain, what song should I listen to?”, this song would immediately come to mind. It has everything you could ever want in a TAS song and more. It’s iconic at this point, and the day the band quits playing this cut live is the day I stop being happy.

4. Cauterizer

From Coma Witch (2014)

This song is this high up on the list for one reason and one reason only—it features one of my personal favorite breakdowns of all time. Yes, I realize how incredibly stupid it is to put this song so high up simply because of a breakdown, but I don’t think you understand the effect that singular moment had on me upon listening for the first time. This is the song that got me into the band when I first heard it nearly a decade ago, and has remained in my playlist rotation ever since.

3. Fresh Bones

From Step Into The Light (2023)

Yes I know, recency bias, blah blah blah. Whatever. This song kicks ass, that’s it. With perfectly grimy production, NAILS-level slicing guitars, and an extremely rare TAS blast beat, this song very, very quickly shot to the top of my all time great TAS songs list. This is the song that has me saying “okay, this could be their best album.” Name another band that is making songs like this 20+ years into their career. I’ll wait.

2. Observer

From Coma Witch (2014)

For The Acacia Strain to make a song that is 28—yes you read that right, twenty-eight minutes long—and for it to not bore me to death, that’s an accomplishment in itself. However, this song goes above and beyond the gimmick. Observer is a captivating ride, leaving you feeling more like you just watched a movie rather than listened to a song. The narrative is enthralling, the musicality is jaw-dropping, and the concept wins in any scenario. While the masses might not want to admit it, Observer makes a clear case for The Acacia Strain to be considered in the conversation of the most innovative bands in the genre.

1. Seeing God

From Slow Decay (2020)

And there you have it, my personal favorite TAS song of all time. As previously mentioned, I’m a sucker for fast Acacia Strain, and Seeing God is no exception. There is not a single microsecond of downtime in this song – every single moment keeps you 100% locked in, with absolutely zero filler making up a single second of the runtime. The guitar work is the band’s best, to put it abruptly. The fight riffs are absolutely pulsing with energy, and the fantastic feature from Jesus Piece’s Aaron Heard is the icing on the cake. It’s also perhaps their most fun song in a live setting, which is truly a testament to how great the song actually is. You may not like it, but this is what peak Acacia Strain looks like.

And just like that, my top twenty five Acacia Strain song list comes to a close. This band continues to drop my jaw with each release, and I, for one, am hoping we get many more years of The Acacia Strain. To conclude the list, here’s a select few songs that just barely missed inclusion:

Honorable Mentions: Victims of the Cave, Them, Graveyard Shift, JFC, Dust And The Helix, Jonestown, Skynet, Pity, Ramirez

The Acacia Strain’s new albums ‘Step Into The Light’ and ‘Failure Will Follow’ are released on 12th May on Rise Records.

Words by Hunter Hewgley

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