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There was a time when Accept was not considered to be groundbreaking ambassadors of European metal, a title they’ve been holding more or less since their breakthrough album Balls to the Wall. Which is okay by all means, of course; other pioneers such as Judas Priest had to wade around in obscurity for a number of years, slowly building up their reputation until they finally reached the big league. The difference between Judas Priest and Accept in their formative years, however, is that while a certain talent was evident through all of the Priest’s 70’s output (indeed, even on Rocka Rolla), one has to wonder what the hell Accept had to compete with to acquire a record deal. If this material is what made record company executives give them their chance, it goes to show that Germany was not always the underground metal paradise it’s been since the mid-80’s.
The liner notes for my edition of the album suggest that Accept’s debut brought forth a sound that Germany had never heard before, and I’ll be damned if they aren’t correct. Heavy metal had been done before, the Scorpions being the most notable band, but I’m pretty sure that the amateurish approach to hard rock and metal this album displays had been previously unheard (except from obscure demo bands of the era).
And it seems that one man is primarily responsible for making this album seem unconsciously self-parodic: The man, the myth, you guessed it, it’s Udo Dirkschneider himself! How ironic. By 1979, his transformation into Brian Johnson’s pissed-off (and superior) younger brother was only a couple of years away, but few could have predicted that by listening to this album, as there are no traces of his up and coming persona, except some sure signs of ADHD. While many of us have accepted and even embraced his inability to sing properly, his performance on this here album proves that it would really take heaps of fine-adjusting to reach that level. He screams and he groans and even tries the occasional singing, but it’s all done with little to no relation to the actual music, thus making it sound like outbursts of a badly drunken rage. And the lyrics don’t help him either; while I think they had been co-written by the whole band, they’re still some of the most silly lyrics I’ve ever read (believe me, I have had many good laughs while reading through songs like Take Him In My Heart, Glad to Be Alone and Helldriver). But while they do make Udo seem like even more of an imbecile (I mean come on, would YOU like to try and deliver those lyrics while sounding respectable? Luckily Udo doesn’t seem to bother sounding respectable), they don’t make me want to detract any points, since they bring loads of humour and not so much pretension.
The music is funny at times too, but unfortunately that is something I’m having problems with. See, as this is a debut lyrics don’t really matter, but the music matters a lot and should contain signs of promise when it’s such a huge band we’re talking about. But these songs are derivative and, for the most part, pretty bad. As far as influences go, this album owes more to early 70’s hard rock/metal, mainly Deep Purple, as the riffs in Helldriver, Free Me Now and Take Him In My Heart suggest. But as much as I admire those influences, riffs are one thing and songs are another, and at the time these boys just didn’t know how to put together a proper song. I do occasionally have these choruses stuck in my mind, but only because they’re sticky, not catchy in a pleasant way (listen to Street Fighter for more information). And I’m not even gonna mention the arrangements, since there are none to mention.
But some kind words about the material on here is also due; The worst songs are often funny in all their stupidity, and when they do get their shit together, Accept ’79 can actually write good stuff. The only consistently great song is the ballad Seawinds, with an elaborate solo section and breezy, atmospheric singing by bassist Peter Baltes (his singing was already quite nice early on). But inspirational moments include the riff and chorus of Tired of Me, the dark riffs of Sounds of War (won’t some thrash metal band cover this song? I’m dying to hear the result) and the overall guitarwork on Glad to Be Alone is really nice and bluesy. At this point in time, Wolf Hoffmann was way ahead of his bandmates in terms of technique, and his some of his solos actually show some true promise. The rest of the band isn’t really noticeable.
This album is not recommendable to anyone without a big interest in the band, and even if that applies to you, you may not find it worth your time. This album is a tiny, tiny footnote among such huge debut albums as Iron Maiden, Walls of Jericho, Black Sabbath, Melissa, etc. However, I cannot allow myself to give it a really terrible rating since I’ve already mentioned some good points about it, mainly the humour and the fact that it doesn’t sound like it was meant to be a sternly serious album (like Russian Roulette). Also, I guess that in my mind I can never truly roast these guys, I mean this is the band behind Breaker, Metal Heart, Restless & Wild, etc…