ACCEPT: METAL HEART (1985)
1) Metal Heart; 2) Midnight Mover; 3) Up To The Limit; 4) Wrong Is Right; 5) Screaming For A Love-Bite; 6) Too High To Get It Right; 7) Dogs On Leads; 8) Teach Us To Survive; 9) Living For Tonite; 10) Bound To Fail.
The followup to the big commercial breakthrough, Metal Heart, like most similar followups, offers no surprises. But under the circumstances, they could have done much worse — for instance, intoxicated by the fumes of the power and the glory and the big bucks, turn into a cartoonish hair metal band. Instead, there is no sign of compromise. It is sometimes suggested that they did make Metal Heart slightly "poppier", adding more catchy chorus hooks for the public to go along, but I don't see it in the least — not that these chorus hooks aren't catchy, but having the audience easily singing along to their choruses had always been Accept's priority.
Just like on Balls, the most ambitious track on the album is the title one that opens it. Unfortunately, this time around they haven't been able to come up with a bunch of riffs for it that would knock the pants off you in the same effective way. But they still find an alternative way to draw you in — by incorporating symphonic influences, quoting Tchaikovsky in the intro and Beethoven in the guitar solo. "Symph-metal" can be awful in the wrong hands, but if you get your classical quotations right, arranging them so that the power of the original melody is smoothly stretched alongside the power of heavy metal guitar, the effect can be awe-inspiring, and Wolf Hoffmann channelling the spirit of Beethoven turns out to be a majestic embellishment of 'Metal Heart' rather than a ridiculous embarrassment.
On the rest of the tracks, it may be said that the band is "coasting": the riffs are still loud and powerful, but generally simpler and more derivative of former glories than they used to be. Some are even suspiciously reminiscent of similar power-chord driven AC/DC stuff — not a good thing, because the riff-playing skills of Accept are, from a technical point of view, more sophisticated than those of AC/DC, and that's the way Accept fans would probably have liked them to stay. And this, for the first time in a long stretch, makes one experience the old nasty feeling of 'formula': one high-adrenaline level rocker after another, buildup, bombastic chorus, kick-ass guitar solo, lead-out section, buildup again, bombastic chorus again etc. — you don't so much feel these things when the songs are awesome, but if they're just one small notch below awesome, the atmosphere changes radically.
Still, what am I saying? — 'Up To The Limit', 'Wrong Is Right', 'Too High To Get It Right', 'Dogs On Leads', these are all first-rate metal stalwarts, each and every one a headbanger's dream. 'Up To The Limit', in particular, is the number two Accept song to help you vent your frustration — it doesn't have the great chords of 'Balls To The Wall', but, in partial compensation, it's got the speed and the fury to match. And 'Screaming For A Lovebite' and 'Living For Tonite' are as great for party-hellraising as anything this band ever did.
Therefore, Metal Heart's main weakness is that it gives a bad premonition — a premonition that the end might be near, that the band already has some trouble sustaining the same high quality level. But if you don't believe in premonitions — and if you're 'living for tonite', why should you? — then Metal Heart has got no serious weaknesses whatsoever, and, no matter how much one's brain might complain about the band turning into AC/DC and losing its identity, the heart just keeps going along with the thunder. Thumbs up, no doubt about it.