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Acumen Nation | 5ifth Column | review | electro | rock | Lollipop

Acumen Nation

The 5ifth Column (Crack Nation)
by Lex Marburger

As little as three years ago, I probably would've hailed this album as the coming of the third (third? Fourth? I've lost count) wave of Goth/metal/industrial/leather'n' eyeliner-music. Acumen Nation pulls in NIN and PM5K (that's, um, Power Man 5000) to mix in with their Gravity Kills/Stabbing Westward/Frontline Assembly sound, but - and here's the part that makes them kinda listenable - sprinkles a bit of Crystal Method on top of the anger stew. They're able to pull this off cuz a couple of the guys are in DJ? Acucrack, so it's not just a guy with his dad's record player going "wikki-wikki-wikki," and shouting "hell yeah!" during the choruses (you all know who you are, don't bother getting up). Kinda like Foetus, without the big band horns, sense of humor, or awkward rhythms (come to think of it, take all that away, and you've pretty much kneecapped Foetus, haven't ya?). The 5ifth Column contains real melodies, too, which is a big plus. They don't try to be over-the-top creepy, they don't try to do the monster roar, and the (obligatory) distorted vocals aren't too bad, utilizing a lighter touch than most.

Of course, it should be pretty obvious that this is fringe-element music. If they're proud for moving 12,000 units through Soundscan, you know they're dealing to a minority (of course, that's about 11,900 more units than I've ever moved, which just furthers that whole "critics are failed musicians" bit... dammit, that shit's gonna follow me to my grave). What's weird is, Acumen Nation is so close to being mainstream. Just listen to that Linkin Park remix single that's being plastered on MTV (or is it MTV2? I dunno): Churning guitars, distorted vocals, electronic bleeps, a rap now and then. The only thing missing in The 5ifth Column are hip-hop beats, which, for some reason, guys of this ilk never use. I think it's some sort of strange ideological pissing contest. Think about it, for years, industrial has been the scary white-boy music that has shocked and angered the uptight. Along comes hip hop, which not only trumps industrial in the scary aspect (who would you rather not meet in a dark alley, the fat guy from Electric Hellfire Club or DMX?), and not only horrifies the squares and sells more (ahem, many more) albums, but has the coolest ass-shakin' beats with honest-to-god soul. What's a genre like industrial to do but get jealous? C'mon guys, can't we all get along? Imagine the music if Trent got together with Dr Dre. Or the Neptunes produced Rob Zombie. Get to it, boys. We're waiting.
(PO Box 16008 Chicago, IL 60616)  

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