Album Review: Dr. Acula – Nation
Posted by Reggie
Dr. Acula is a 6-piece outfit from Long Island, New York. They formed in 2005 and today they have released Nation, their 5th full-length album for your music listening enjoyment. Their peculiar moniker comes from the late Comedian Mitch Hedberg, who told a joke about going to see a doctor and “all he did was suck the blood out of my neck” which led to Mitch advising not to go see Dr. Acula. When I first loaded Nation to my iTouch, the first thing I noticed was 12 songs lasting 32-minutes. My heart about sank as this seems to be a running theme with newer bands I am totally NOT getting into. After the first spin, which took 32-minutes of course, I realized Dr. Acula has an edge to them that other bands of a similar vibe are lacking; they can actually carry a tune and breakout with some crushingly heavy head banging viciousness. Their Hardcore, Metalcore, and touch of Hip-Hop infusion is brutal and catchy, but not in a Limp Bizkit kind of way.
The 6-piece is made up of drums, two guitar, bass, and two full-time vocalists. The vocalists are more similar than dissimilar. They do not contrast as greatly as vocalists in Linkin Park, Atreyu, or other bands that strive for contrasting highs and lows from opposite ends of the vocal range. Their range is basically gritty to grittier and if you are not paying attention, you may not even notice the transition between singers even though they almost alternate each line of lyric. They seem to have equal roles and back each other up in a complimentary way. Typically, I prefer one vocalist with a wider range of vocal style (Stu Block, for example), but the thing I like about Dr. Acula is that they do not seem to be going out of their way to have a lighter vocal side to appeal to a wider audience. They aren’t trying to be heavy with pretty choruses to get airtime on the radio.
The absence of breakout guitar solos usually doesn’t settle well with me. This seems to be a function of many bands that fall into the Metalcore subgenre and when you blend Metalcore with Hardcore, guitar solos become even less likely. I am a good old-fashioned Progressive/Thrash fan and a lover of quality guitar solos (John Petrucci, Dave Mustaine, etc.). I consider to myself to be pretty open-minded. So, if you take away something I like then something has to fill that void? Dr. Acula accomplished this by creating something that a listener can head bang to. Don’t get me wrong, they have cool guitar parts beyond simple riffs, but no real solo. Dr. Acula wrote some brutally heavy parts that one can head bang to; songs that will generate circle pits.
They have a video (see below) for the song Ironic Enclosure which isn’t a bad song, but I don’t think is the best song on the album. Heavy handed is probably my choice for their best song and one that is an all-around strong heavy metal song. Some other notables are Keep on Running in Place, Nation, and Thinner. Nation is a relatively constant album throughout with little variances in tempo. Almost all of the songs are less than the 3-minute mark which, again, seems to be the norm for Metalcore/Hardcore blends. Dr. Acula fits the bill well for these two subgenres. They come off as being heavy and maintain that without compromising for a broader audience.
Overall, the album is too short for my standards, but does pack one hell of a punch and that counts for something. Despite lack of breakaway guitar solos, they do have actual guitar playing instead of just repetitive short choppy riffs. Dr. Acula takes what is typically a simple recipe for metal and expands upon that by showcasing more musical ability than many of their counterparts. If I were to put these guys on tour with similar bands I would choose Devil Wears Prada, Job For A Cowboy, and Parkway Drive. As for the album Nation…pleasantly surprised!