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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.