Acid - Maniac (1983)
1983's self-titled album saw Belgian five-piece Acid kickstarting their career in fine fashion with one of the earliest legitimate speed metal releases of any note (see Exciter's "Heavy Metal Maniac" for the other). Well Acid wasn’t satisfied with resting on their laurels & not only did they manage to record & release their sophomore record later in the same calendar year but they also managed to top it with an album that’s faster, more aggressive & more professionally put together on all levels.
“Maniac” sees Acid’s sound showing signs of development over the rawer debut which was roughly a 50/50 proposition with regards to speed metal & Acid’s earlier traditional heavy metal sound. “Maniac” on the other hand is more like three quarters speed metal with drummer Anvill continuing to pound away on his double kick in worship of Motorhead’s Philthy Phil Taylor throughout most of this material in exciting fashion. Female vocalist Kate sounds a little more aggressive here too as she spits out her lyrics in a slightly more spiteful fashion while the production is cleaner, thicker & more powerful than the one we heard on the debut. The metal audience had been hearing some pretty raw examples of speed metal production to that time& I guess that stems from the Motorhead & Venom influence but this cleaner sound is pretty much spot on for speed metal in my opinion. I prefer to be able to hear all the nuances & let the song-writing do the talking rather than having to rely on raw intensity all the time. The guitar solos are probably the weak point of the album as they lack authority & don’t really serve much purpose but they’re relatively short & fly by without you noticing too much.
Interestingly, my favourite track from the debut was one of the more traditional heavy songs in the anthemic ode to being a metalhead “Hooked On Metal” & once again my two favourite numbers are probably the couple with a more classic metal sound. In fact, the slowest track on the album, “Prince Of Hell & Fire”, is absolutely brilliant & is the clear album highlight in my opinion. It’s got a dark Judas Priest meets Black Sabbath feel to it with plenty of space & a ploddy brooding tempo ala Sabbath’s “Heaven & Hell”. Amazing stuff! There is the one blemish on the tracklisting however in the punky speed metal track “No Time” which sounds half-baked to me but the other seven songs are all worth listening to.
Fans of Exciter or the faster Motorhead, Venom, Raven & Judas Priest material will definitely get into this album. It’s high quality stuff indeed. In fact, I'd suggest that it was the strongest speed metal record the world had seen to the time.