I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DR. ACULA is an acquired taste. Think Cannibal Corpse being fondled by Mr. Bungle while watching TMZ and you’re on the right track. The New York band has been kicking around in various incarnations for over half a decade, and you’re either going to love ’em or hate ’em with no in-between. When they first hit my radar with an early demo of “Shocker on Shock Street” (later re-recorded for their 2008 album BELOW ME), I found them amusing and rockin’ at the same time. Since then, they’ve changed members like most change underwear, but their brand of “party grind” has remained largely the same.
On their latest album, SLANDER (out February 15th via Victory Records), the band is at their best-produced level yet, taking shots at pop culture and music as a whole. Opening up with “Clinger (Stage 5)”, a rant from an ex-girlfriend involving Facebook, the band tears into “Fire Crotch (The Venereal Van Ride)” with an introductory roar of “Here we go again!” (a warning to some, a welcoming call to others) DR. ACULA responds to the Clinger by stating“Fuck all your friends.”
Nearly every track on SLANDER opens with an audio sample. Familiar quotes from FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI: JASON LIVES, JERSEY SHORE, CHARLES MANSON, and ROB ZOMBIE’s THE DEVIL’S REJECTS make their way into the mix, alongside a GHOSTBUSTERS “proton pack,” and a classic line from the “This is your brain on drugs…” commercials of the 1980’s. Each fits well with what follows, such as the F13 clip which segues from “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly.” into the instruction to “Run Run Run for your Life...”
Musically, the grind is fierce. Comparisons to Cannibal Corpse are easy to make, while the dueling vocals recalls that of Brutal Truth with a deep growl on one side, a high-pitched, raspy shriek on the other. There’s space to breathe here, the perfect opportunity to make that circle pit you’ve been thinking about.
Unfortunately, SLANDER’s faults are the same points that make it so damn entertaining. While the novelty and fun is good for a bit, repeated doses may lose their effectiveness.
While the traditional Death Metal/Grindcore community might raise an eyebrow (or simply raise a middle finger) to the sounds of DR. ACULA, they’re a band that fills a gap that no one else seems interested in filling. Would you like a little humor with your Grind today?