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Friday, July 31, 2009

Accept: Restless And Wild


1) Fast As A Shark; 2) Restless And Wild; 3) Ahead Of The Pack; 4) Shake Your Heads; 5) Neon Nights; 6) Get Ready; 7) Demon's Night; 8) Flash Rockin' Man; 9) Don't Go Stealing My Soul Away; 10) Princess Of The Dawn.

It is funny that even with bands whose records all sound (generally) the same, there is some sort of inner feeling that even so, they aren't just rolling along a smooth highway, but still steadily climbing up the mountain — until they reach the peak, of course, and then there's the inevitable slide down. And all that time, the records STILL sound the same!

There is even some sort of a consensus on this in many cases. With AC/DC, for instance, many, if not most, people think about Back In Black. With Motorhead, almost everyone thinks Ace Of Spades. It's impossible to define why, it's just a question of inner feeling, a very certain inner feeling at that. And with Accept, the certain feeling rests on Restless And Wild.

One thing that has always seduced me in particular about this record is how perfectly they put the two best songs at the start and at the end — and how the wildly different moods of these two songs perfectly suit the start and the end. To begin with, they beat the speed record of 'Breaker' and 'Starlight'; 'Fast As A Shark', true to its title and even more so, is the fastest Accept have ever played, and, in fact, it might be the fastest metal track ever played which manages to be melodic at the same time (I'm sure Slayer can outrun even this, but whether they can retain the precision and fluidity of Accept's guitarists at the same time is an open question). Steven Kaufmann's unbelievable double bass-drumming is another asset, practically redefining the meaning of drums in heavy metal history. And furthermore, it's just good old catchy rock'n'roll, once one has fini­shed admiring it from the technical side.

If 'Fast As A Shark' is the band's ultimate headbanging number, then 'Princess Of The Dawn' closes the album on their best dungeons-and-dragons note. Most metal and "heavy prog" bands have to rely on cheesy synthesizers to build up atmosphere on their fantasy-oriented work, almost immediately cheapening the results (because some people think that once you get that particular tone out of your Casio, you've already set up the atmosphere). On 'Princess', Accept achieve that eerie medieval-mystical effect without hitting one single piano note — just by doubletracking the guitars, attenuating them with an equally ominous bass, and having Udo sing in his world-weary, "old grizzled magician" voice which is his second best after the "straightjacketed maniac" one. The whole song is an amazing kaleidoscope of memorable riffs, enchanting vocal hooks, and melodic solos — all set to an unnerving mid-tempo rhythm that effortlessly transports you through six minutes of medieval mystery until it abruptly cuts off in mid-song, almost like a nod to the Beatles' 'I Want You' (maybe a conscious one, given the brooding atmosphere of both com­positions, although the adjective 'brooding' pretty much drains the resemblances).

In between these two metal masterworks, you get more great Accept songs that are not worth describing in detail. No sissy ballads, no Peter Baltes on lead vocals (finally!), just one great riff tune after another, just like on Back In Black. 'Neon Nights' probably could qualify as a power ballad, but, after the misleading acoustic introduction, it is inaugurated with a second electric intro of such effect-laden heaviness that one could never accuse the boys of selling out with it. Not that with Udo's voice it is even possible for them to sell out, of course.

Predictably, a wild thumbs up emerges from the bottom of the heart, but even the brain, even today, after many, many listens, still remains amazed at the album's ideal consistency. The only puzzling thing is why they decided to title it after the song 'Restless And Wild', when an even truer approach would be to title it after 'Ahead Of The Pack', because that's exactly what they were for that brief moment in 1982: 'Ahead of the pack — never look back!'.

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