Monday, November 24, 2008

Aceium - Wicked Metal

Heavy Metal and Canada are not two words we would usually associate with each other. Canada gave us nothing but Eskimos, Rush and Voivod. Though I wouldn't be so daring as to add Aceium's name to that list (who the hell is Aceium anyway?) this is a competent demo with some excellent, play-worthy songs. Wicked Metal is very much typical early 80's metal. The album falls into the category of "albums to play in the background when friends are over." This is one of my main problems with the album though - there are spans of minutes when nothing at all interesting happens and my mind begins to wander, towards the beer I am drinking, the porn I am watching or what I would like to put on the sandwich I am making.

Anyway... for a demo in 1982, this is well recorded and well produced. The guitars could bite a bit harder, the bass could be less passive, the drums could be more up front and the vocals could be less distant. The whole album has a "distant" feel to it. You know, that one where you feel like it was recorded in an empty hotel and the guitars were next door and the microphones were in the wrong room but the band was so loud that it cut through the walls. As the demo goes on, the severity of this distance becomes less apparent as your ears acclimate, like focusing on a friend on the other side of a class whispering to you the answers to that test you never studied for because you were too busy enjoying Saxon's full length.

The most stand out aspect of this bygone product is the guitar playing. There are leads scattered throughout the songs like gnats on a moist lawn bunching up and then floating to another part to irk you when you are trying to mow. They hit your ears and are stuck there and if you try and push your finger in they just get pushed further in and you need to run inside and get a q-tip to fish them out. The solos are like that. There will be one somewhere that will make you want to listen to it again just for the nostalgic feeling of a solo that was nothing more than a chance for the guitarist to "Let Loose." Major points to Mike Code for the guitar work on the album. Though his rhythms are a bit uninspired to these ears, those solos...

The rhythm section is quite ballsy though, as mentioned, the drums are very much in the background and at times very difficult to really latch on to. The perspective the listener is given to the drums is one of the main reasons for the whole "distant" feeling to the album. The reverb on the vocals as well adds to this. Though the drums are distant, Steven Lederman's percussive talents are very apparent. He pounds through the harder parts, throwing down some interesting and inspired fills such as in "Let Loose" and "Eyes of Pain" yet he displays expert reserve at the more mellowed sections. Richard Fulham's low end is the most recognizable instrument on the entire record. It is up front, distinguishable and of major importance in the structures and melody of the songs. He mainly plays straightforward bass parts however at the times he plays through his fills on the album, many of which seem to be improvisations at the moment of recording, he is on. Douglas Adam's vocals are competent but he is no Eric Adams as hard as he might try to be.

"Cold Steel" is a tough act to follow as an opener and "Let Loose" doesn't quite live up to the intensity of the harder, more varied, more interesting and catchy lead off track. The opening riff is awesomely and unfathomably metal to the point that someone should have already written it. Who knew that three notes could have such an effect? Sadly, most of the other rhythms fall short. "Let Loose" meanders on before becoming interesting. "Walking With Evil" is skippable, containing a few generic yet cool bass fills and a very rock 'n' roll solo while "No Peace" and "Eyes of Pain" comprise the second half of the offering's interesting tracks. "Wrong Place," though not a very good song, is worth the listen to just to hear. It seriously is the first surfing anthem / detective television show theme metal tune ever. "Satan's Laugh" is, well, laughable and can be compared to sitting down to dinner with your grandparents and waiting for them to ask you how school is and how is work going.

While not the greatest album to search for from this time period, Canada has once again given us something that maintains a certain kind of mediocrity that can be pleasing at moments and irritable at other times. As hard as this band tried to release something awesome, they fell a few feet short of the mark, possibly on concrete and possibly hurt themselves slightly which resulted in them running home to have their mother's patch up their cuts and scrapes.

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