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Due to "Fast as a Shark", the prototype of German (or even European) speed metal, "Restless and Wild" is probably the best known album of the early works of Accept. The debut, "I'm a Rebel" and "Breaker" are doomed to stand in its shadow. Rightfully?
I don't think so. First of all, "Breaker" was created by an ambitious band. In terms of velocity, the title track and the opener have a lot to offer while being almost on a par with the aforementioned classic. Moreover, the entire album is roughly as heavy as "Restless and Wild". Recorded in December 1980 and January 1981, the sound surprises with an unexpected mixture of density, warmth and belligerence. It reflects the self-confidence of an energetic horde that does not want to follow the after work rock of its bourgeois ancestors. Accordingly, those strange creatures that like to listen to lukewarm krautrock do not need to get in touch with "Breaker".
Already the A side of the vinyl covers almost every facet of early heavy metal. Edgy riffing ("Starlight") is followed by vehemence ("Breaker"), a more or less menacing atmosphere ("Run if You Can") is being replaced by a woeful ballad ("Can't Stand the Night") and an overdose of ugliness ("Son of a Bitch") finishes the first half of the album. The B side shows a similar picture, although it adds an airy and fairly superficial number ("Midnight Highway") which was obviously written to get some radio airplay. But no need to panic, the strong pieces maintain the upper hand. In any case, one should be familiar with the following tracks.
"Starlight" (the name says it all) sparkles in view of its effervescent riff attack and the siren-like vocals. Udo Dirkschneider has already found his personal style. His pressed voice sounds like that of an angry, armoured pig that seeks the feeding trough. Despite this rural idyll, he cannot hide his fascination for the wickedness of big cities ("know the bright lights of Hollywood"). Anyway, it is a shame that this infectious song seems to be forgotten by the band itself and the majority of its fans, too. "Breaker" (the track) is even harsher. But when looking at the big picture, it becomes evident that the album does not possess the abysmal heaviness of their later masterpiece "Balls to the Wall". However, the here presented title track marks another pearl in the well filled archives of Accept. The same applies to "Son of a Bitch". Based on a flickering yet heavyweight riff, it offers a great portion of contempt. I guess you know at least one asshole, so I recommend to dedicate the song to this person. Especially these tracks leave no doubt that the album has enthusiasm stamped all over it. The spirited group has created a juicy piece of meat, still slightly raw yet tasty.
With all due respect to the merits of the Scorpions: Accept were the inventors of true German steel. But back in 1981, they were still newcomers in an almost invisible scene without magazines, internet and smartphones. Therefore, they could not ignore the spirit of the time completely. "Breaking Up Again", sung by Peter Baltes, was the then mandatory ballad with acoustic guitars. Due to their status, the guys were not able to avoid such a tune. It stood in the tradition of equally expressionless numbers such as "Sea Winds" from their debut or "No Time to Lose" from their second work and did definitely not increase the album's quality. However, "Breaker" left its mark and was more than just the next step in the development of the band. Accept took a clear position and did not deny the fact that they had a metal heart. But that is another story.
The first couple of Accept records didn’t really make a difference from classic rock, which by the late 70’s became obsolete and decadent. Pioneer groups like Rainbow, Scorpions, Judas Priest and Motörhead changed the whole genre concept, playing much straighter energetic music and in other words they turned rock into metal by adding a bigger dose of speed and violence to the traditional schemes. Then came the NWOBHM, which was the definitive step for that new sound consolidation. So Accept eventually knew what they wanted, how they wanted it. It’s an undisputed truth that without those crucial changes in the early 80’s metal scene, they wouldn’t have found their characteristic identity.
The album starts with a couple of total heavy metal cuts: both “Starlight” and mighty title track are an explicit reflection of a radical sound modification that gets rid of the tender cheesy rock of these guys’ first works completely. They’re both remarkably rapid, slightly technical if we refer to the instrumental construction and the meticulous execution of guitar lines, specially. These are no longer vain riffs; Wolf attacks pretty rough defining a very aggressive nature for this music while those loose tempos provide it of energy and power, denying the usual hard rock patterns. However, those 2 amusing tunes are an exception, no rule because the rest in the pack are rather common and not that inventive. For instance, “Midnight Highway” and “Feelings” put a lot of emphasis on riffs, though they’re rather weighty and very melodic and stripped-down from the first 2 songs' refreshing elements and following a more usual direction: hard rock with infectious choruses that make them undoubtedly commercial and accessible. Other moments like the vigorous rock & roll of “Burning” (didn’t we hear that riff on Scorpions’ “Robot Man” Tokyo Tapes live version?) and the admirably developed, humble riffing of “Run If You Can” recover some of Accept’s unexpected new ways for a second, although soon getting tenuous and predictable. And they haven’t got rid of their silly ballads yet. We got a couple here: “Can’t Stand The Night” and “Breaking Up Again”, which break the continuity of this LP's aggression with those melancholy lyrics, melody, and some mellow harmonies. However, don’t panic because words on other numbers like “Son Of A Bitch” bring back the group’s raw attitude and musical violence with no more romance.
Definitely, Accept were one of the most influential bands of those times with their advanced sound that moved away from the tiring topics of the previous decade rock. This stuff is pretty dynamic, but mostly quieter than future groups like Exciter or Savage Grace. The coupe of first numbers are truly frantic, I must insist, and even make use of double bass drum rhythms on some sequences, but as I already said, velocity isn’t the band’s main goal. These songs feature quite diverse styles, from traditional rock to an early incarnation of power metal and AOR, so their patterns aren’t empty or exclusively concentrated on making their music heavy and brutal. They put attention on melody using refined arrangements and even attempt to achieve some instrumental progression. You can even notice a classical music inspiration on Hoffmann’s guitar parts, another sign of sophistication, though other times he prefers to play direct riffs in the style of Angus & Malcolm Young in his versatile performance. So the band alternates slightly difficult cuts with casual ones without repeating the same formula twice, although the percentage of cheerful songs is bigger than the heavy ones. This is certainly a transitory stage between early and mid-80’s Accept and you can easily notice the essence of both first LPs here combined with other contrary elements taken from the NWOBHM, making a bizarre mixture at times. The Solingen metallers style was still evolving here so there’s a lack of direction and maturity along with some instrumental simplicity which makes this material sound primitive and unpolished for sure. The execution of the tracks isn’t immaculate, but they’re effectively conceived and developed, including the passion and motivation of each group member.
Dirkschneider and co. would reach the next level with the following couple of albums, a big step forward that wouldn’t have been possible without Breaker, so this was a vital phase. It might not be the greatest thing they've ever done, but it has some classics and moments of true power and intensity that had a big impact on young musicians of future metal sub-genres, particularly for their home country fans. Teutonic power and even thrash took a lot of influence from them and their music will come to your mind inevitably if you listen to Warlock or Helloween. They weren’t British, but along with the NWOBHM league, Accept contributed to create 80’s heavy metal.
Here’s where European metal gets a serious kick in it’s boogie-obsessed, old fashioned, and overly Sabbath dependent ass. To this point in time (meaning since their ’79 debut album) Germany’s Accept had been following the same dull path by as so many on their continent. But along with Mercyful Fate, they soon helped re-align European metal brains towards music altogether more forward thinking. In Fate’s case it was all about darkness, iconography and complexity. For Accept it was about speed, power and purposeful virtuosity. The band always had an aggressive factor in the nasal grunt of singer Udo Dirkschneider (closest cousin: AC/DC’s Bon Scott), easily one of the most distinctive singers in metal history. But the band’s two guitar membership (highlighted by lead player Wolf Hoffman, an always economical and tasteful solo author) is equally important, pushing the envelope away from the syrupy riffing of the seventies and towards music far more urgent.
The title cut itself is a classic among classics managing, amongst it’s hard, heads down pace, to include some remarkable writing, sharp riffing and a previously unheard level of aggression from Udo. Similarly snarling is “Son Of A Bitch,” which uses a churning, slightly ominous riff to great advantage, Udo really sounding unhinged as he belts out the profane chorus. Another important ingredient in the future of this band can be heard on “Midnight Highway,” which blends energetic playing with irresistible melodic riffs. And while the band do revert to boogie format on the long and fast “Burner,” it’s energy is still damn impressive.
This is one of the indispensable records of it’s day, a sign to the metal faithful that ever more diabolical sounds were right around the corner, from all corners of the globe. By all means don’t stop here, jump to ‘82’s Restless And Wild to dig how much further Accept would take this theory.
"Breaker" is a pretty solid album, and the first really classic Accept record. Udo's wails are as high and raw as ever, the guitarwork of Wolf Hoffman is catchy as hell. The rest (bass and drums) is barely noticeable, as the guitars and vocals are way louder in the mix, which I believe was 100% intentional.
These production values are pretty annoying at times, as the guitars don't get the necessary support from drums and bass, and thus loses some punch. Everything on here is really too low, but we have to keep in mind that this was released in 1981, so the crappy production can be overlooked in favour of some great songwriting that can be found on here.
It's a very consistent album, without any songs that stand out as weak. One song is kinda sub-par, which is the opener "Starlight", mostly thanks to somewhat generic riffs and an incredibly dumb and boring chorus. Still, it's not a complete waste, and the solo absolutely slays!
"Run if You Can" is also kinda average, although it does have a killer melodic chorus, which shows Udo's cleaner and more emotional side very well.
The rest is all pretty killer stuff. "Breaker" is pretty damn nifty speed metal with a cool melodic chorus, and one of the definite highlights on here.
"Burning" is another highlight; an energetic and damn catchy heavy metal tune, with a great sing-along chorus and the bass highlighting section as notable standouts. "Feelings" is probably the best song on here, and is just heavy fucking metal all the way. Wolf Hoffman delivers galloping riffs that would make Dave Murray wet his pants, and Udo's vocals are as intense and raw as ever, and the lyrics are just incredibly cool. And for the last highlight we have "Midnight Highway", most notably because of that chorus melody, which reeks of AC/DC worship.
And it's quite obvious that AC/DC was one of the biggest musical influences on the band, at least in the old days. The raw, high-pitched vocals are definitely comparable to Bon Scott at times, although Udo Dirkschneider is far more vicious. And of course, there is the underlying sense of groove in all Accept's material, which isn't too far from some of AC/DC's ideas. Still, Accept carve a very own sound, which would keep evolving for many years to come.
Their early material was a bit underdeveloped at times and don't showcase much melodic depth, and the production isn't what it could be, but albums like "Breaker" and "Restless & Wild" has that completely raw and in-your-face Heavy Fucking Metal attitude, which is sure to rip the ears apart of all poseurs within a ten miles from the site of the turntable or boombox blasting the album in question.
But "Breaker" is not all about kicking ass and heavy metal. There are two ballads to be found here, "Can't Stand The Night" and "Breaking Up Again". The first one features some very nice underlying guitar melodies and solid basswork over it, and Udo shows that he can convey some magnificent emotion into his raw voice. The second features bassist Peter Baltes on vocals, who is not bad but kinda boring and generic. It's a very good and emotional song though, but "Can't Stand The Night" is far superior, and in fact one of the best songs on here.
But basically every song found on here is great in one way or another, and this album epitomizes the raw and aggressive power of Heavy Fucking Metal, which we all know and love.
I just got this album yesterday, and holy fuck does it rock. Yeah, there are hints of Priest throughout, and AC/DC (see "Burning" and "Midnight Highway", the latter of which is comparable to some Back In Black material), but overall they don't come off as sounding derivative at all, it's just pure fucking old school heavy metal, trendy bullshit-free. I can't stop listening to this album, and the attitude is all there, it'd probably make me nostalgic if I weren't just 17. I'm not big on cheesy shlock, but this album is steeped in all the trappings that made good 80's metal so timeless. Wolf Hoffman and Jörg Fischer are truly underrated guitar virtuosos, their solos are fucking brilliant and very impressive whether they're just doing shred runs or whipping out some neoclassical chops or simply wailing on all the right notes. Even the classical-sounding intro to "Breaking Up Again" is actually quite beautiful, even if the song is a little ballad-esque for my tastes. (But hey, at least they remembered diversity, so the album doesn't come off all sounding the same.) And the riffs...the riffs! Meaty fucking riffs that make you throw the damn horns. If you ever heard Tankard's Disco Destroyer album, the song Hard Rock Dinosaur at one point goes "I don't like this beat, it ain't got no meat, need a mean guitar", and this is EXACTLY the solution they were looking for! One of Accept's finest moments, and mandatory for any fans of true 80's heavy metal.
A pretty underrated Accept album, though as with all their releases, the cheese factor is very, very high. A few absolute fucking classics, but it does tail off towards the end a lot. But man, the first few tracks are beasts of the highest order.
Starlight... a midpaced number not out of place for NWOBHM, except for Udo's German accent... then that leads into mother fucking BREAKER!!! Tyrannosaurus Rex!! Total fucking monster speed metal, this song owns pretty much the rest of the Accept catalogue, and that includes Fast as a Shark. Oh man, the album is worth getting just for this one fucking song.
Then, Run if You Can is pretty good as well, but then we have the hideously cheesy Can't Stand the Night. What... the fuck? Just a badly executed song. Oh well, back to Son of a Bitch! Kiss my arse, you asshole, etc etc. What a fun little song, and the main riff is liable to cause lethal fucking headbanging frenzy.
Burning is another insanely fast number with another fucking awesome solo... I cannot begin to describe the quality of the soloing here. Wolf Hoffmann is a genius. Burning! Burning! Burning just like fire!
Then, the album completely fucking dies, unfortunately. Feelings is mediocre, Midnight Highway seems like it was designed to be an adult-contemporary rock staple (read: commercial pop shit), and Breaking Up Again is even worse. Some silly ballad that does nothing and goes nowhere.
But hey, we close on a strong note with Down and Out - starts off as a midpaced number with lots of groove, then increases slightly in speed in the middle section under a brilliant solo and a solid fucking headbanging riff. Yes, the solos here are awesome. Some of the songs are worthless, but there are enough great ones here to merit buying the album, when all is said and done.