Formed in the late 1980s as Acumen by Jason Novak and Ethan Novak, the band released several cassette demos before self-releasing the CD demo "Transmissions from Eville" in 1994. The two along with bassist Greg Lopez put the record out themselves under the Robot Records moniker. During shows for this period, the band added guitarist/engineer Jamie Duffy. Duffy greatly improved the band's sound onstage and rounded the group into a tight fourpiece helping them to get noticed by upstart independent industrial label Fifth Colvmn Records who signed the band and reissued Transmissions from Eville worldwide.
With breakaway dancefloor hits like "Matador" and the irresistibly punchy "Gun Lover" Acumen was starting to get noticed amongst industrial/gothic music fans. National tours with The Clay People and 16 Volt soon resulted and in an effort to capitalize on the buzz they had created, the band headed back to Chicago Trax Studios to record their follow-up entitled Territory=Universe. More mature, polished, harder and reflective of a specific moment in the band's career, Territory=Universe showed that Acumen had a dense multi-layered sound that could pulse on the dancefloor and was underscored with emotion. Standout tracks included "Mike", "Queener" and "You Deal With This". With heads now turning towards their latest, Acumen was invited to go out on a national tour with industrial rock pioneers Chemlab and enjoyed shorter stints supporting industrial rock legends KMFDM and Monster Voodooo Machine.
Although the glory days of the Industrial rock scene in Chicago had faded by the time Acumen emerged as a national act, through constant touring and sheer hard work on a number of different projects the duo have since established themselves as somewhat relevant within a tiny niche of the US underground scene. The Iron Lung Corp. was a band composed of Acumen and The Clay People from Albany, NY. Their first record, '96s "Big Shiny Spears" featured covers of Nitzer Ebb's seminal dance hits 'Join in the Chant' and 'Murderous.'
In 1997, the band were forced to change their name due to a legal dispute with a preexisting progressive rock band also called Acumen. The band split their project into two halves - the drum and bass influenced DJ? Acucrack, and the more traditional rock format of Acumen Nation. Tours for both projects followed. In 1998, Greg Lopez left the band to pursue other interests. He was replaced by Eric Alvarez, also known as the bar. The four recorded 2000's Strike 4. Eric exited the band before the record was released and was replaced by Eliot Engelman.
The close of 2001 saw the release of "Live Farewell 2001", which was to signify a hiatus for the band as the recording marked the final performance with the band of Ethan Novak, who left to form the band Cordy. He was replaced by Dan Brill, who currently plays with the band.
Eliot Engelman left the band following the release of Anticore in 2006 and the following tour with Front Line Assembly in mid-2007, although the band maintained that he never left for quite a while, before finally admitting it. Ethan Novak returned to play guitar during the "PsychoTransHumanoid" 2007 and 2008 tours of the east and west coasts with Cyanotic, promoting the simultaneous release of Acumen Nation's Psycho the Rapist and DJ? Acucrack's Humanoids from the Deep and Cyanotic's Transhuman 2.0.
On June 21, 2012, Acumen Nation guitarist Jamie Duffy died due to an overdose of sleeping pills, which was made public via his personal Twitter account early that morning. The tweet "the beginning of the end" along with a link to a photo of a plate with three white bottles of sleeping pills and a plate full of the bright blue pills themselves. The photo was later removed, but the tweet remained.
On July 6, 2012 the announcement was made for COLD WAVES: THE JAMIE DUFFY MEMORIAL CONCERT at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge on September 7, 2012; celebrating his life in music. Duffy peers had deemed him as "one of the greatest stage managers and sound men that Chicago has seen." Event artists include Paul Barker, Chris Connelly, Jared Louche, Martin Atkins, Steven Seibold, Jim Marcus, Jason Novak, and Eric Powell to perform selections by Revco/Revolting Cocks, Chemlab, 16volt, Acumen Nation, Damage Manual, Hate Dept, The Clay People, and Go Fight!/Die Warzau; additional artists to perform Czar, Cyanotic, i:Scintilla, and The Final Cut; with DJ sets by Zoltar, a former Q101 Chicago and WXRT Chicago radio host, and current host of the satellite radio show Subterranean.
It also noted that Duffy worked at Chicago Venues: The House of Blues, The Cubby Bear, The Abbey Pub and The Cabaret Metro/Metro Chicago as stage manager and sound engineer; provided engineering and technical support at Chicago Trax recording studios; and had contributed to releases on a plethora of large and independent record labels including 21st Circuitry, Bit Riot Records, BMG/RCA/D-Tribe Records, Cargo Music/Re-constriction Records, Conscience Records, Cracknation Records, Crash Music Inc., E-Magine Records, Failure To Communicate Records/FTC Records, Fifth Colvmn Records, Glitch Mode Recordings, Underground Inc., Island/Def Jam Records, Katharsis Records, Metropolis Records, MOGworld Records, Tinman Records, TVT Records, Warner Bros. Records, Wax Trax! Records, WTII Records and Zoth Ommog Records working with artists such as 16Volt, Acumen Nation, Armageddon Dildos, Chemlab, Chris Connelly, Cyanotic, Dean Garcia, DJ? Acucrack, Hypefactor, Iron Lung Corp, Lard, Method Man (Featuring Mary J. Blige), Ministry, Monster Voodoo Machine, Pigface, Sister Machine Gun, Sister Soleil, Toni Halliday and The Wake.Transmissions from Eville (Demo) (as Acumen; 1994; Robot Records)
Transmissions from Eville (as Acumen; 1994; Fifth Colvmn Records)
Territory=Universe (as Acumen; 1996; Fifth Colvmn)
Unkind (EP) (1997; Conscience Records)
More Human Heart (1997; Conscience)
If You Were (EP) (1998; Conscience)
Transmissions from Eville (Remastered) (1998; Conscience)
Territory=Universe (Remastered) (1998; Conscience)
Strike 4 (EP) (2000; Cracknation)
Live Farewell 2001 (2001; Cracknation)
The 5ifth Column (2002; Invisible Records)
Coming Down: The Bastard Remix Album (2002; Invisible)
Lord of the Cynics (2003; Cracknation)
Artifacts: 1990-1993 Volume 1 (2004)
What the F**k?: 10 Years of Armed Audio Warfare (2005; Cracknation/WTII Records)
Anticore (2006; Cracknation/Crash Music Inc.)
Psycho the Rapist (2007; Cracknation)
Artifacts II: 1989-1994 (2008; Cracknation)
Artifacts III: 1988-1993 (2014; Cracknation)
Iron Lung Corp.