Acaro find empowerment through aggressive metal

Crafting a legacy
By JANSSEN MCCORMICK  |  July 19, 2011

acaro main
FRESH METAL Acaro (left to right, Kevin Smith, Jay Fitzgerald, Chris Harrell, Felipe Roa, and Chris Leblanc) play dazzling, modern metalcore. 

Acaro are arguably the hungriest metal band in Boston. After playing dozens of shows — from Sammy's Patio in Revere to the New England Metal and Hardcore Fest at the Palladium alongside local favorites Motherboar and metal titans Lamb of God — the Boston quintet are looking to take the next step with debut record The Disease of Fear, a collection of eight punishing tracks that suggests a leap to national acclaim is well within reach.

Possessing a sound as close to aural comfort food as metal can get, with huge riff-driven tracks and the occasional clean vocal chorus, Acaro draw on thrash and Florida death metal, brimming with melodic leads that could have sprung from a lost Unearth album and technically-daunting shredding solos that bring fellow Bostonian thrashers Revocation to mind. Self-released, The Disease of Fear is dazzling modern metalcore, and when I met up with vocalist Chris Harrell at the Model in Allston late last month to discuss the record's July 24 release party at Church, he didn't wait for the other members to show before handing me a copy. "We really wanted to get this album out for people to hear at the beginning of the summer," Harrell said.

Acaro solidified its line-up only last year with the addition of bassist Kevin Smith, who joined a songwriting team of guitarists Chris Leblanc and Felipe Roa and drummer Jay Fitzgerald of Bay State metalcore originators Overcast. "We're 10 years apart," says 23-year-old Leblanc about the senior Roa, "so we bring two decades of influences to our songs. I grew up listening to bands like Unearth and August Burns Red, while his style comes from the whole Florida death-metal scene."

The old-school vibe permeates the rest of the band's approach to songwriting. "We want our records to sound warmer, more organic," adds Leblanc. "And we get that from having such a solid low end." Pointing to the abundance of triggers and enhanced sounds in modern metal, Harrell notes, "So many bands out now write stuff that sounds great but they can't play it live."

It's a sentiment that helps explain the tenacity and precision of an Acaro show; they're at their best on stage, their live presence as polished as the music on record. Harrell commands attention, snapping about the stage and leading sing-alongs as if his pre-show ritual consisted of downing a dozen five-hour energy shots. Leblanc, Smith, and Roa have equal flash, spending much of their sets head-banging three-abreast atop their monitors. It's an impressive show that earned them a slot on New England Metal and Hardcore Fest's SXSW showcase last year and garnered fans in unfamiliar territory.

En route to Austin, the band strung together a handful of dates in the south, and one stop — a show at a Christian venue in Mississippi — featured a prayer circle before the headlining band. Says Harrell, "The reaction we got from kids was so genuine, they had no idea who we were and just went off when we started playing."

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