The Formative Years – ACME 7”
In 1993, I received a demo tape “Menschenmaschine” by a band from the Northern regions of Germany that had just changed its name from New Deal. The artwork, new band logo and presentation did not exactly catch my eye and it took a while until I felt compelled to give it a spin, however, upon first listening I could not quite fathom the onslaught that was unleashed on me.
While the songs were raw in nature, even those early recordings indicated that there was something to the song writing that calibrated the incorporation of extreme metal styles without ever confining themselves to any stylistic limitations in an unparalleled manner, while still honouring the rawness of traditional metal-tinged hardcore bands.
We are not merely talking about lifting the occasional trademark Slayer riffage here and there, but a tour de force in the curation of an idiosyncratic melange that skimmed the best and most intense ingredients of grind, sludge, death and black metal and cooked it up to a venomous broth that infused the bands’ own DNA.
ACME’s songs from the demo were re-recorded by Systral’s bassist and sound-hexer par excellence Dirk Kusche in his Kuschelrock-Studios, where the recordings were refined and taken to the next level.
What resulted was the musical equivalent to napalm and something that remains unrivalled to this day. Dirk Kusche has since produced many great releases be it for his own bands or other heavy Mucke bands, however, the way ACME’s violent outburst of atonal, densely layered riffage is paired with the detonating double-bass hammerings created an atmosphere where blackness started to shine.
Yes, ACME might have been part of what became labelled as the “Bremen Schule” along with other local bands dabbling in the genre, but they instantaneously and effortlessly created a league of their own as their majestically noisy songs pulverized everything else with their over-the-top annihilating aggression.
The sonic equivalent to a chainsaw gone flying, made all the more interesting as the band itself did exactly fit the visual stereotype of looking and behaving like the cast of Mad Max, as one might imagine from listening to their emissions.
Kusche’s recordings were eventually released on Jeroen Lauwers’ Machination Records as a 7”, a label that evolved after his joint-effort with Ed Verhaeghe, i.e. Warehouse Records folded and whose back catalogue includes such interesting bands as Fabric, one of the first musical endeavours of Tony Sylvester who amongst many other incarnations and manifold detours now quite successfully fronts Turbonegro.
It was only a matter of time until the “Bremen sound” and specifically that of ACME fell on fertile ground in the new world, which saw ACME’s discography - merely nine perfectly violent tracks - re-released by Edison Recordings under the name "...to Reduce the Choir to One Soloist" in 1996, long after the band had folded.
A release that seals the legacy of a timeless mayhemic, hyper-savage , dark and neurotic inferno of a band that redefined sonic brutality.