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Classic Metal - 95%

ManillaRoad, January 23rd, 2009

Balls To the Wall represents the peak of success for German metal stalwarts Accept. In the mid-'80s, MTV was featuring this and other Accept videos with high visibility. The song Balls To the Wall was very widely played on radio and is often found on '80s rock/metal compilations - and rightly so, as it was a powerful hit characterized by an infectious groove, catchy chorus and tight rhythmic playing in the style of AC/DC. In fact, some critics point out that Accept sound like a metal imitation of AC/DC. In some ways this is true, however Accept's own unique sound has gained a huge worldwide following and is looked on very favorably today as an innovator of the power metal genre (especially in the Euro-metal scene. In fact, two entire Accept tribute albums were released on German-based Nuclear Blast Records. A large portion of these bands are European, further illustrating the huge influence Accept have had). On several levels the sound heard on this album really did set the stage for modern day "power metal."

As for the album itself, much of it follows the same formula as the anthem Balls To the Wall: Fantastically catchy chord progressions, dual guitar attack with incredibly stylish solos, and singable choruses. Their vocalist Udo is not a great "singer" but has a very unique voice and manages to be melodic and effective in choruses like Head Over Heels, Losers and Winners, Turn Me On, Love Child, and more.

The most striking thing to me about this album, and perhaps its most underrated aspect, is the remarkable guitar playing of Wolf Hoffmann. I think every song has a solo and there a lot of prominent leads as well. Some of the top highlights musically are: 1) solo in London Leatherboys; 2) intro to Fight it Back; 3) solo in Turn Me On; 4) heavy jam at the end of Losing More Than You've Ever Had. Future guitar virtuoso Jeff Waters of Canada's Annihilator would cite Hoffmann as a large influence. Hoffman has some of the same sensibilities as a Glenn Tipton. Even his picking and use of upstrokes on particular chords add a lot to the music. If you're a guitarist I promise you it will never get boring! Peter Baltes also makes his mark on this album with some quite famous basslines found in the title track, London Leatherboys, and at the intro to Head Over Heels.

It's somewhat of a surprise that Balls To the Wall was the only major single on this record, because it's chock full of consistently great tunes. The only real balladry on the album can be found in the last track, Winterdreams, which reminds me a bit of an early Accept track "Seawinds." If you've only heard the title track and are looking to get into this band, I strongly recommend you listen to: Love Child, London Leatherboys, and Head Over Heels to get started.