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“They Fought Hard to Get it Right… and They Did.” - 100%

bayern, May 2nd, 2019

If I ever come across a visiting Martian, or a recently unearthed Neanderthal, and they ask me, “What’s heavy metal? What does it sound like?”, this will be one of the first, if not even the very first album I will hand them…

but first things first: the “Kaizoku-Ban” concert was the first metal cassette I possessed, half an hour of the best live heavy metal ever produced. It was some time in 1986, and Accept were pretty much the most famous metal act in Bulgaria; you could hear their music from literally everywhere: houses, cars, beaches, classrooms, offices, toilets… even the dogs on the streets were barking “Accept!” enthusiastically for a while, banging their heads with reckless abandon. The non-metal listeners felt obliged to add at least one Accept recording to their collection if they didn’t want to lose face and generate diatribes and scornful comments from the rest of the world… naturally, I got a hold of the album reviewed here mere months after the mentioned concert, and after all these years it remains one of the ten finest recordings to enter my household.

1986 was an interesting year; the big dinosaurs of heavy metal all decided to make some (slight) cosmetic alterations in order to capture the imagination of larger crowds, not only the American ones, mind you, like it was the universally accepted notion at the time. The Scorps passed on this campaign as they were still busy conquering the world, but the others came out with new opuses, all of them pretty decent showings, each in their own way: Tony Iommi released the introspective non-Sabbath, but fairly compelling “Seventh Star”; Judas forgot about church… sorry, freewheel burnings and jaw breakers, and settled for a cheesy radio-friendly, but impossibly catchy approach on “Turbo”; Maiden took a mellower, but almost equally as effective more ambitious, progressive direction with “Somewhere in Time”; and our friends here decided to play “Russian Roulette” with the audience which they had long since won for their cause, and not only in Bulgaria…

I’m still not sure whether all those more or less mild stylistic shifts were caused by the European brotherhood’s intention on matching the colossal commercial success of their US brethren Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, and to a lesser extent, W.A.S.P. I very seriously doubt that they were trudging far behind the mentioned American batch in terms of profits… no, that was hardly the main reason, and it’s not really that important right now what that reason was. What matters is that these adjustments brought “Russian Roulette” to life, and I can’t be any more grateful to them for that.

Mentioning changes, Accept were the ones who didn’t have to drastically alter the scenery with too many newly acquired tools; “Metal Heart” was already catchy and commercialized enough, largely for the better than for the worse. What had to happen, we’re talking changes after all, was the guys to add a more belligerent vibe to the established radio-friendly delivery, the one familiar from their early-80’s exploits. Easier done than said and here we go, savouring by far the finest combination of rowdy fast-paced hymns and softer pop-metal mentality (sorry, “Blackout”) ever produced, and one that can’t possibly be beaten, not in this, not in any other lifetime…

“TV War” is a most striking spontaneous, most compulsively headbanging opener, ranking right beside similar hyper-active introductions like “Aces High”, “Freewheel Burning”, and “Blackout”, a speed metal neck-sprainer second to none that will bring the fans right back to the times of the restless and the wild. A grand fiery opening that can’t possibly be followed by anything less than exquisite which in this particular case comes in the form of a “Monster Man”, the genre given in its concise essence, 3.5-min of bouncy razor-sharp guitars, passionate semi-animalistic vocals, screamy virtuoso leads, and a superb memorable chorus. That’s it; game over, nice meeting you… heavy metal dissected and perfected; there’s not much more to add...

nah, there’s more to come after this “monster” the guys embracing their softer, more mainstream side with the anthemic rousing title-track and the brilliant poignant semi-ballad “It's Hard to Find a Way” the latter sentiment missing from the “Metal Heart”, but here fitting like a glove. More firing on full-throttle later with the perennial moshers “Aiming High” and “Another Second to Be” the latter featuring some of the greatest lead sections in metal history; Wolf Hoffmann literally wrote his name with capital letters across the sky on this one, making everyone realize why a wizard of such proportions can’t possibly belong to small labels like Shrapnel and the likes. With the shadow of sentimentality, and perhaps a bit of nostalgia, looming heavily all over, one can smile condescendingly on lengthy semi-balladic epicers like “Heaven Is Hell” which overstay their welcome a bit, but surrounded by the two abovementioned speedsters this sleeper still works fine, setting the tone for the more anthemically executed crowd-pleasers “Walking in the Shadow” and “Man Enough to Cry” which will prick your subconscious with some of the catchiest choruses ever this side of “Love Bites” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane”.

I don’t listen to this album anymore… I don’t cause I know it so well that I can produce it mentally from the first to the last note; in fact I’m headbanging wildly on “Aiming High” at the moment, it’s all around my head. “Aiming high indeed”, and an aim very well hit cause after this colossal achievement there was nowhere for the guys to go. If they ever came close to emulating the success of their compatriots Scorpions, it was on the album here. What could have possibly happened for them to be able to beat it? Nothing; literally. Playing Russian roulette is always a risky endeavour, but in the Accept case it paid off so handsomely that it became ultimately redundant for the band to try and produce something even very remotely similar to it later; every other album sustained in the same spirit was going to be, always unfavourably, compared to it (just remember the three efforts from the 90’s reunion period). Advocates of true heavy metal? Yes, by all means; glam metal was running rampant, thrash was getting bigger and bigger by the day, but the audience was glued to this addictive game of Russian roulette, not showing any overt enthusiasm in attending theatres of pain, checking their (metal) health, pretending to control puppets behind the curtains, or exposing themselves to merciless blood rain.

Under the circumstances “Eat the Heat” wasn’t such a big mistake probably; yes, it was hard to find a way out of the Russian roulette game, but as an eventual, also necessary, exit from it this opus did work… I guess. Even if the guys had ever entertained the thought of entering the speed/thrash wave in the late-80’s, without UDO the “Animal” adding his apocalyptic contribution to the potential music melee that was practically impossible… so the glam/pop metal roster remained the only option, with UDO left to raise the old Accept flag with his own band. Has he managed to touch this magnum opus here at least with a single finger, though? No, not really; not even after all the animal houses, mean machines, and time machines… sorry, bombs he has built through the years. Still, there should be at least one more bullet left in the gun… let’s wait; after all,

“they fought hard to get it right, for an eternity of delight.”

Man enough to cry? This one is for you - 48%

Felix 1666, August 1st, 2018

Do not ask me why, but I have a crude hobby. I like to write critical reviews for Accept albums. Even after 30 plus x years, it makes me angry that this once promising horde derailed completely. "Russian Roulette" starts relatively lively and fast with "TV War", but I guess they just wanted to showcase the commercial version of "Fast as a Shark". You say this description sounds ambivalent? Indeed. But Accept had lost any form of currishness with the release of "Metal Heart" and therefore I was more or less happy about the here presented opener. But don't try to find many edges and corners on this album. Initially, its name was "War Games", but Grave Digger were quicker. And this was good, because the material of Accept did not embody any kind of war. However, this fact explains why the third track is called "Russian Roulette", although the chorus mainly consists of "War Games" shouts of the background choir. By the way, I admit that I like this song. The catchiness of the chorus is not at the expense of the metallic foundation and this pleasant combination deserves respect. The same applies for the exciting song pattern which builds up tension in a clever manner.

Nevertheless, all in all broad sections of the album sound polished and oily. Dirkschneider is a good squaller, but his attempts to sing in the proper meaning of the word fail. He sounds like he feels not well in his skin (and indeed, his days were numbered). Maybe this is the reason why the background vocals shape many parts of the songs. Maybe less would have been more. If I want to listen to melodic yet powerful choirs, I dive into Kiss' "Lick it up" (but this is probably just my iota of personal eccentricity, so don't take it too seriously). And if I want to enjoy the original version of the verses of "Heaven Is Hell", I listen to the fantastic title track of "Balls to the Wall". Accept border on self-plagiarism while offering this pretty solid, but overlong and unspectacular number.

While the majority of the songs pass by without making me angry, happy or anything else, I realize that the production fits the musical approach: it also gives me nothing. No major flaws, a lukewarm quantum of heaviness and clean contours, that's it. I don't want to blame the mix for being sterile or soulless, but it mirrors the commercial intentions of the once mega-robust, now fickle German team. Thus, I am not willing to praise the sound, even though I admit that it cannot be compared with the soft waves of Priest's "Turbo" and similar cruelties from the plush factories. Either way, if "Metal Heart" is too soft and "Restless & Wild" too hard for you, "Russian Roulette" could be your new sonic paradise, but I have massive doubts. The great number of predictable run-of-the-mill tracks or a complete flop like "Walking in the Shadow" (ridiculous background vocals, embarrassing chorus) make it hard to fall in love with the material. Exceptions like "Aiming High" with its pretty rebellious guitars confirm the rule, but don't expect any kind of climax during the second half as long as you don't press your own copy of the album with bonus tracks from "Breaker", "Restless and Wild" or "Balls to the Wall".

I Might Need a Bullet And a Gun... - 81%

Metal_Jaw, August 19th, 2012

...because there maybe some backlash for a few Accept fanboys out there. This 1986 offering is an often overlooked number in the Teutonic maestros' discography. Most get off on this album, often referring to it as "more mature" or "a return to form". I disagree to a fault. While certainly the structure of the songs are bigger and harder (tee-hee), not to mention the lyrical content being relatively darker in nature, it doesn't really matter in the end. Why? Six out of ten of these songs are totally and utterly forgettable. No choruses that stick, no solid hooks, no memorable riffs, no solid aggression save for a few moments. I don't hate this album at all, but man does it all get irritating to a point.

That being said, one of the saving graces of "Russian Roulette" is the band's performances; this is the truest return to form here. Udo goes back to his rougher, louder screams and croons and it's all for the better; a welcomed return. Jorg Fischer and Wolf Hoffmann hit up some very nice and strong shredding, showing off their true skills a la "Balls To The Wall" and "Restless & Wild" again. Peter Balte's bass is again underscored somewhat, but he always manages to keep a solid rhythm set going along. Even Stefan Kaufmann gets back into gear, rarely keeping quiet and always throwing in a fill or two when you least expect it.

As I said, the songs' quality is pretty weak overall. Most numbers just come and go, rarely sticking or making any sort of solid impression. Numbers like the closer "Stand Tight" have potential but never really get going; this one has a fairly melodic anthem-type chorus but the rest of the song is nothing more than "there". "It's Hard To Find A Way" is a fairly useless ballad which picks up more towards the end, but it's too little too late. "Heaven Is Hell" tries to be epic but sloppily fails, while "Walking In The Shadow" comes armed with a biting chorus but no good riffs or even that great of a solo to back it up. So, is there anything worthwhile in this overrated diatribe? Well, at the end of the day, this is still Accept, am I right?! Once again these guys know how to start an album right, and they start with the satirical speeder "TV Wars", which is followed up by "Monsterman", another fast number with similar structure and catchiness to the last album's "Midnight Mover". The title track is the true epic here, brooding and rising until the group explodes during the chorus with vicious Udo cries and bombastic backing vocals. The last really good song on here is not only the best on the album, but in my opinion an Accept classic. We have "Aiming High! Aiming High! And I'm waiting for relieve, to the best of my believe!"! That chorus will permanently embedded in your skull; it's so damn catchy! The solo and riffs are quite spirited on this too; why couldn't more of the album be like this song?

Overall, I find this album to be quite overrated. Despite the solid lyrics and strong musicianship, most songs just fall flat, rarely making any sort of real mark or being very interesting. I'm just a minority in this and I'm sure the average metal fan will love this album. Even still, I do highly recommend the last four songs, in particular the quality "Aiming High".

Accept Perfection! - 100%

hells_unicorn, March 14th, 2008

Engaging in a debate over which album in a well known band’s extensive discography is the best can be an interesting endeavor. With certain bands like Sabbath and Maiden where there are several distinct eras with radical changes to boot, picking a favorite is as simple as having a preference for one era and then picking the one that has the most concentrated elements that makes that era your favorite. However, other bands that maintain a consistent line up and a consistent sound, perhaps with the exception of one or two outliers; make for a somewhat harder choice. But given all of this, the harder choice in determining a favorite is usually the less controversial because there tends to be consensus that the whole band’s discography from that period or their whole career is close to equal, whereas a cut and dry case such as “Virtual XI” and “No Prayer for the Dying” not being Maiden’s best would often lead someone to meet with ridicule if they decided to contradict it.

In the case of Accept, there is a sort of middle ground as they have a very consistent discography, yet the general consensus is that certain albums are revolutionary while others were merely extensions of said revolutions. Most say “Restless and Wild” holds the gold, a small group of detractors say it’s “Balls to the Wall”, and the occasional oddball might say “Breaker” or “Metal Heart”. Whether you choose one or the other depends on what you think is the greatest representation of Accept’s obvious influence on German power metal, which today still turns out its fair share of acts and maintains a solid battalion of veterans. I can sympathize with the ones who pick “Restless and Wild” because “Fast as a Shark” pre-dated the thrash metal genre and pioneered its European speed/power metal cousin. I can also recognize the love many have for “Balls to the Wall” because the entire album is jam-packed with so many heavy end riffs by 1983’s standards that it can’t help but stand out.

Be this as it may, there is an album that represents a different point of view, one that makes perfect logical sense given Accept’s metal pioneer disposition. The album of course being “Russian Roulette”, and the viewpoint being that those who play a hand in creating a musical style also have the capacity to perfect it later on. Most tend to brush this album aside as either a good afterthought at the end of a brilliant era that started with either “Breaker” or “Restless and Wild”, or as a flawed attempt at maturing their sound. The truth is that Accept’s sound here is just as young and impudent as previous works, but the modus operandi that has been consistently observed several times has now yielded a one-hundred percent flawless and filler-free collection of songs.

The importance of the albums that came before this one goes without saying, but instead of clinging to the prototypes and dismissing the updated version 2.0s and 3.0s, a person who believes that metal still lives must admit the improvements that come with revisiting and expanding upon past ideas. This album takes all of the best moments of what came before it, as well as an improved sense of melody and an even more ambitious approach to song development, and puts it together into something that listens almost like an Accept greatest hits collection. If you can listen to “T.V. Wars” cook through with its unyielding combination of fury and melody and not shout out that this song kicks ass harder than anything that was out at this time in Germany, including Walls of Jericho, something is not getting from point A to point B between your ears and mind. Likewise, check out a lyrically superior version of “Balls to the Wall” in “Heaven is Hell”, complete with a pipe organ for additional atmospheric affect.

The whole album perfectly walks the line between throwing out bone crushing riffs and hooking your tired throat in for another sing along session with an unending supply of classic choruses. All of these songs could pass for radio if the medium showed any concern towards giving its mind numbed addicts a chance at something better than the dribble they are all too happy to settle for. But no, instead of continually bringing back a real power ballad with balls like “It’s hard to find a way” as a token 80s addition to the endless barrage of passé 70s classic rock and muddy grunge/alternative crap, we get treated to a slower and drier mainstream knockoff of the same sound in “Hysteria”. If you doubt this, break out your dust covered jewel case and get out your cassette or CD copy of Def Leppard’s 1987 commercial monstrosity and play the title track and picture it about 16 clicks faster, a rougher and more masculine vocal delivery, and with actual riffs instead of sappy minimalist melodies and you will literally have Accept’s lone love ballad on here.

Now the mainstream is always worthy of scorn, but unfortunately its alleged opposition fails to be much better when it comes to this album. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that this album has an obvious accessibility because of the attention to hooks given in the choruses or if it’s the quality production, but every so called core metal head always finds some sort of lame purist excuse for putting this album lower on the scale than most of its predecessors, with maybe the exception of the first two. None of these reasons are valid if you focus on the music itself rather than dwell upon the year it was released and what this band and others had done before hand, which might lead one to believe that music is a secondary concern for some. “Hanger 18” could be viewed as a newer variation on “Call of Ktulu”, and it’s superior to the latter because it took the same idea and turned it into a riveting thrash epic with all sorts of interesting twists and turns instead of an overly repetitive instrumental that relies almost entirely on an accomplished bassist playing lead to prevent it from being absolutely redundant.

There is so much right with this album that it’s difficult to sum up with one overriding reason why any self-respecting fan of German power metal should not be without it. Udo’s voice is in top form, the riffs are all fixed perfectly in place, and the songs are instantly unforgettable. It is 100% indicative of the zenith that many of the earliest bands in metal reached in 1986 such as Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne, as well as the up and coming greatness of newcomers at the time such as Crimson Glory. If you like Running Wild, Helloween, Iron Savior, Rage, Paragon, or the countless other throngs of heavier end power metal acts from Germany, this is the greatest offering of the band that inspired them to pick up the banner.

Hugely underrated and misunderstood. - 98%

Nightlock, April 19th, 2006

I often find myself coming along bands that have released several good – great albums throughout their career then get bored and decide to take a more mature slightly different approach to their music. Accept’s sixth studio release; Russian Roulette is one of these albums. This album seems to be one of those albums most Accept fans either “love or hate” *confused*. It’s said by some that with Russian Roulette Accept became too melodic losing their hard edge in favour of deep melodic slightly poppy backing vocals and political lyrics. I agree to a point, the music is more melodic, the backing vocals also have a slightly poppy deep melodic quality to them, but! Under no circumstances have Accept lost their “Hard Edge” the opposite in fact.

The production for one thing seems to be fuller and less tinny than the band’s predecessor album (Metal Heart) was. The AC/DC influences that were in full swing on Metal Heart have also seemed to disappear, which of course is a good thing. Accept were never meant to sound like AC/DC if fact Russian Roulette would be the perfect album for a newbie to the band. It has original musical concepts that have seemed to be present in past releases but not as noticeable nah as advanced. Accept defiantly reach their peak as songwriters on this album not to mention as singular musicians; Wolf Hoffmann has some unbelievable and very unique solos and themes throughout this album. Udo and Stefan Kaufmann are others that have noticeably extended their musical abilities. Stefan using generally more groove based beats and Udo using his whole range a lot more. One thing some may not like, the songs (for the most part) have kind of a colder/slightly sad feeling to them, if you’re looking for happy sing along songs like “Midnight Mover” or “I’m a Rebel” there aren’t that much on here.

Time to talk a little bit about the songs; The album as a lot of choice heavy metal releases has a template of ten songs. Two of which are fast as hell catchy sing along numbers, Three of which are beautiful nicely assembled ballads and another five that all somewhere “in between”. Every song holds a significant part in making up the album and no songs are “fillers” as such. Although there are moments here and there that could have been done a bit differently, example the chorus for “Walking In The Shadow” there’s this great atmospherical build up pre-chorus with bells and deep choir all along with Udo shouting “I surrender…I surrender” then, all of a sudden the song moves into this goofy groove chorus “Walking in the shadow, Walking in the night”. That said it seems to be the only negative aspect of the album that comes to mind after listening to it twice before writing this review.

Russian Roulette has the fast catchy songs Accept fans have come to love like; “T.V. Wars” and “Aiming High” extremely catchy chorus: “Aiming High….Aiming High….*Deep backing vocals*”What a fight to get it right, for a minute of delight”. It has the dramatic emotional numbers like: “Russian Roulette” and “ It's Hard To Find A Way” and it has the mid paced head banger numbers such as; “Monterman” and “Stand Tight”. This is emotional, mature, intelligent, head banging, classic heavy metal! And anyone that classifies themselves a 80’s metal enthusiast that doesn’t already own this should go out and buy it straight away and prepare to be blown away by it’s true brilliance.

Sidenote: The strange thing is the first time I listened to this album it didn’t actually appeal to me at first I was hoping for an album full of songs like “Fast as a Shark”, “Restless and Wild” etc. This album isn’t Restless and Wild (Accepts other greatest relese) it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s Russian Roulette and it did take me a few listens to understand and realise it’s greatness. Give it five listens and you’ll think the same way.

Tries to be more mature, it seems. - 79%

Nightcrawler, June 7th, 2004

Alright, so this is by far the weakest album I've got by this band. But that does in no way mean that it's bad, only that all their other albums I've got (check my collection, you lazy bastard) are fucking excellent, badass heavy metal. This one sounds pretty similar to their last two releases, "Balls To The Wall" and "Metal Heart", but as previously stated, the vicious attitude has been sadly reduced, which makes it much less in your face and not quite as inspired as their earlier material, but there's some interesting songwriting to be found here.
Songs such as "Monsterman", "Heaven Is Hell" and "Man Enough To Cry" shows a pretty emotional side of Accept. Thing is, they already had songs showing that side ("Head Over Heels", "Winter Dreams", "Can't Stand The Night", and so on) even when their attitude was the worst, and they really did work better back then, even though these songs on their own aren't particularly bad.
That's pretty much the symptom of the whole album. Traditional 80s Accept but with less of a kick-your-ass attitude, and just generally similar to but weaker than their classic material. Classic, catchy heavy metal riffs and wailing solos played with a screeching, wild guitar tone a la "Metal Heart". The trademark sense of groove Accept always had is also very evident, especially in the moody title track. And of course, Udo Dirkschneider's shrieking, clinically insane vocal assault. He owns you - and my fucking cojones, he did own me too at Sweden Rock Festival. One of the definite highlights at the whole festival. The setlist was nearly perfect, with all Accept classics like "Burning", "Restless And Wild", "Metal Heart" and "Balls To The Wall". Although, there is one particular song from "Russian Roulette" I'd kill to see played live: AIMING HIGH! AIMING HIGH! WHAT A FIGHT TO GET IT RIGHT, FOR A MINUTE OF DELIGHT! Fuck yes, this is Accept at their very best, and heavy fucking metal the way it was meant to be, man. Intense, powerful, inspiring and anthemic, and catchy as hell. By far the best song on here.

But there's some more good stuff on here. "Another Second To Be" has some killer galloping riffs and a very good, powerful mood overall, and the chorus is absolutely amazing, despite the over-dramatic backing vocals.
Then "Russian Roulette" is equally catchy as "Aiming High", but much slower and groovier, and has this especially orgasmic bridge in the middle, which brings some great melodic stuff. More insanely groovy stuff is found in "Heaven Is Hell", which is cool as hell, and has a nice build-up kind of song structure, though it kinda gets slow after a while, and is just a little too long. Good stuff, though.

All through, the album has some really good material, and although it begins kinda faint (The first two songs, "TV War" and "Monsterman" are kinda average) it definitely catches up around the middle, and some slight weaker moments here and there in songs don't make much of a problem, and the good moments definitely make up for it. Aside from "Aiming High" and "Another Second To Be", the melodic "Man Enough To Cry" also stands out, along with the more anthemic closer "Stand Tight".
Nonetheless, the whole album has this underlying vibe hinting that they're not quite as into it as you'd hope. All in all, a really good album from these German heavy metal legends, but you'd be better off with "Restless And Wild" or "Metal Heart".

Essential Accept - 93%

Obelisk, November 18th, 2003

As far as I know, Udo was somewhat disappointed with this release, but that's his decision and assessment. In my opinion, however, this is the most consistent album Accept have ever put out.

First of all, they fixed their chronic problem in the previous releases; there are no fillers or cheesy ballads. 'Hard To Find A Way' is probably the only song that classifies as a real ballad on here, but no way is it as cheesy as "No Time To Lose" or "Can't Stand The Night" in its entirety. Gone are the cliched sentimentality and raw "Fast As A Shark" type of obnoxiousness (apparently, can't have one without the other), substituted for rather maturer songwriting and a more laid-back attitude. Even the faster-paced songs on here (Aiming High, TV War, Monsterman) don't have that early-Accept attitude that so many of their fans really value, so this could be a reason for Udo's disenchantment...

However, a fan of traditional heavy metal should definitely like this, in the end. The songs are extremely well-crafted, even if they're somewhat unhurried, with plenty of catchy riffs and melodies. Udo is at his best here, and some of the multiple-voiced choruses are very well done. Hoffman also impresses here, proving that he's one of the most underrated guitar players in heavy metal. Just really good musicianship, all in all.

I'd definitely recommend it, since it was the first album (on a cassette) that I have ever purchased myself, but I'd leave the judgement to you. My bias is infinite towards this band, even though I'm trying to be fair.