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A Slight Step in the Wrong Direction - 82%

tidalforce79, January 11th, 2016

“Restless and Wild” is a monumental metal album. Accept were way ahead of the time; often thought to be a bit too heavy for their own good. Fans of “extreme” metal may disagree; however, no one who didn’t live through the album’s release can judge the impact at the time. Suffice to say, “Balls to the Wall” must have been a highly anticipated album for Accept fans.

From the very first riff, the listener will notice a substantial difference in the production. “Balls to the Wall” is far less raw than its predecessor. It appears that Accept elected to follow the path chosen by many of the more commercial bands at the time. A thick, multi layered guitar tone can be heard on top of arena rock style drums. The harsh vocals of Udo remain a staple of the band, complete with gravel gurgling and abrasive melody. On the outside, there is nothing wrong with “Balls to the Wall” as a metal album, but it lacks something as an Accept album.

The title track opens with the stereotypical Accept bludgeoning, a meaty riff that beckons all those who listen to bang their heads. The drums break in with exceptional tact, rocking the speakers and setting the tone for a catchy verse and chorus. Udo’s tortured voice is in top form on the title track-rather like a rabid dog devouring prey. Riot vocals complete the infectious chorus, keeping the listener engaged before a tasteful solo. For all intents and purposes, “Balls to the Wall” satisfies, but one cannot help but contemplate the superiority of “Fast as a Shark” as an opening track from the band’s former effort.

Problems continue in a likewise manner as album progresses. Though good, tracks such as “London Leatherboys” and “Fight It Back” are clearly inferior to the band’s earlier work. “Love Child” and “Turn Me On” lack the punch of Accept’s former glory, often seeming like filler in a way that appeals to hair metal fans. A commercial overtone haunts the album from beginning to end. Accept have never written overly complicated songs, but “Balls to the Wall” reeks of bands like Loudness or Lillian Axe; bands who are good in their own little genre, but are poor substitutes for Accept at their prime. The exact problem is hard to nail down, but perhaps Accept simply sounded better raw, or they failed to sound as fresh in late 1983 as they did in 1982.

Despite the album’s shortcomings, not all is lost. Accept continue to deliver in the solo department. Hoffmann and Frank can still shred in a melodic and technical fashion, giving the album enough Accept character to make good on the sticker price. Udo remains among metal’s most distinct and raw front men. “Losing More than You’ve Ever Had” is one of Accept’s best songs, with a painfully catchy hook that will burn itself into your brain for weeks after the initial listen. “Losers and Winners” is simply a monster of ass kicking.