Here’s an equation for you: what does AC/DC + Judas Priest equal? Well, in this instance it equals Accept who have always blended the no nonsense, gravelly throated hard rock of AC/DC with Wolf Hoffman’s ferocious Priest-like shredding ability to create melodically powerful heavy metal songs.
Built around the song writing nucleus of Hoffmann (guitars) and bassist Peter Baltes, Accept's beginnings can be traced back to the late 1970's. The German band played a pivotal role in the development of speed and thrash metal, which emerged in the early to mid-1980's and along with the likes of Iron Maiden, Accept has delivered an undeniable impact on the global metal scene. The group has penned an innovative and pioneering body of work and some of the most influential metal albums of all time, including Restless and Wild (1982; which included ‘Fast as a Shark’, the first speed metal song ever put to tape, Balls to the Wall (1984; the iconic title track is still the group's most well known song to date and has become a worldwide metal anthem) and Metal Heart (1985). The band's two previous albums - Blood of the Nations (2010) and Stalingrad (2012) have charted internationally, topping both critic and fan polls in the process.
It's fair to say that Accept were one of only a handful of metal bands which had the ability to make me feel genuinely sad when they disbanded in 1997. So, when they got back together in 2009 with Mark Tornillo on vocals, replacing the mighty metal midget Udo Dirkschneider, I was initially sceptical. However, the aforementioned Blood of the Nations was a cracking album and my initial worries of this being a Blaze Bayley or a Ripper Owens sort of situation turned out to be unfounded.
Blind Rage, the influential group's 14th studio album, was produced by renowned audio engineer Andy Sneap (Megadeth BLAZE, Exodus, Testament Napalm Death and Opeth). Andy really understands what an Accept album should sound like and works hard to make it thunderous and mighty.
The first single from Blind Rage, 'Stampede', precedes the full-length album. Filmed on location in the high desert of California at the Devil’s Punchbowl (a rock formation that looks like it’s from another world) with director Greg Aronowitz (Batman & Robin, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Lost World: Jurassic Park), it just screams THIS IS THE HEAVY METAL, BUY ME!
Each track has something to offer: ‘Stampede’ blends in power metal, ‘Dying Breed’ is anthemic and has some nicely planned old-school riffs (see if you can hear the nod to a well known Motörhead song), ‘Dark Side of My Heart’ reminded me of the tracks from the classic Metal Heart, while the more considered ‘Fall of the Empire’ sees Wolf Hoffmann and Herman Frank add some surprisingly deep and relatively poignant solos. ‘Trail of Tears’ follows and this is a more upbeat track which blasts along nicely. ‘Wanna Be Free’ kicks off with an acoustic introduction before bludgeoning the listener into submission: I guess this is an Accept version of a ballad with its resonating bass and mid-tempo structure. ‘200 years’ and ‘Bloodbath Mastermind’ again sees a more power metal influences being woven into the fabric of the songs and the final couple of tracks, ‘From the Ashes We Rise’ and ‘Final Journey’ could have quite easily come from their masterpiece Balls to the Wall.
So in summary, Blind Rage lived up to my high expectations and is a damn good heavy metal album. If you call yourself a heavy metal fan then you really don’t have any excuse at all for not listening to this. It’s another strong release from a rejuvenated Accept. Existing fans should be pleased with what they hear and new fans should welcome the fact that they have been given the chance to enjoy one of the best metal bands ever, one more time.
Accept will release their new album Blind Rage on August 19 via Nuclear Blast Records.