Of all the seminal coldwave bands, Acumen Nation were always the most guitar-oriented, with a heavy, dissonant style that prefigured industrial-influenced metal acts like Korn and Static-X by a decade. What’s often overlooked, though, is that they’re as talented with their electronic equipment as they are with their guitars, as evidenced by their work under the name DJ? Acucrack as well as this collection of remixed and remastered tracks from throughout their career. Like the most recent Acucrack material, some of the most interesting mixes here explore the more evil and twisted side of drum ‘n’ bass. Longtime collaborator Lance Grabmiller mixes up the track “Just A Bastard” into “Bastard Vs. Monster Zero,” a frantic onslaught of drumbeats, snarled vocals and a moody piano line, and Acucrack’s mix of “Fuckyerbrainsout” keeps things exciting with a buffet of background noises splattered liberally over chopped up beats. A remix of “Bleed For You” is more straightforward industrial metal, with lots of jackhammer beats and sudden pauses in the vein of classic Ministry, while the version of “Revelations Per Minute” presented here incorporates both aggressive guitar work and hard-hitting breakbeats. In addition to the remixes, there are also several original tracks, including “The Wreck of Us,” which features guest vocals from Eric Powell of 16 Volt. Rounding things out are a number of remastered demo tracks from Acumen Nation’s early years, with the snare-driven industrial rock of “Noarmsnolegs” and the surprisingly cheerful instrumental outro of “Fuckface” being particularly shining examples of the band’s promising beginnings. All in all, this is a great intro to a brilliant and influential band, but for diehard Acumen Nation fans it’s all about the bonus track: a live unplugged version of crowd favorite “Queener,” complete with acoustic guitar and – of all things – a trumpet player. An industrial rock band that can pull that off is worthy of respect for that alone, but all 75 minutes of this album are just as killer. Acumen Nation are as relevant as ever, and this is both a fascinating retrospective and a step forward in an already influential career.
Visit Acumen Nation, DJ? Acucrack and the rest of their extended family at www.cracknation.com.
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