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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Accept: Restless And Live


1) Stampede; 2) Stalingrad; 3) Hellfire; 4) London Leatherboys; 5) Living For Tonite; 6) 200 Years; 7) Demon's Night; 8) Dying Breed; 9) Final Journey; 10) From The Ashes We Rise; 11) Losers And Winners; 12) No Shelter; 13) Shadow Soldiers; 14) Midnight Mover; 15) Starlight; 16) Restless And Wild; 17) Son Of A Bitch; 18) Pandemic; 19) Dark Side Of My Heart; 20) The Curse; 21) Flash Rockin' Man; 22) Bulletproof; 23) Fall Of The Empire; 24) Fast As A Shark; 25) Metal Heart; 26) Teutonic Terror; 27) Balls To The Wall.

Considering how much respect this 21st century Accept has been getting in the metal community, it is probably inevitable that sooner or later they would summarize it all with a live album — but I guess nobody really expected such a gigantic package: a BluRay / DVD video of a complete per­formance from a 2015 festival in Balingen, Germany, plus a 2-CD live album with twenty seven live tracks (almost two and a half hours worth of music!) culled from different venues of the 2015 tour; amusingly, most of them are from Russia — St. Petersburg, Moscow, even Yekaterinburg... yes, we Russians love our sweaty, masculine (and somewhat gay) Teutonic metal. Then again, they did not insert a piece of the USSR anthem inside ʽStalingradʼ for nothing.

The track listing is almost equally spread between the songs from the Tornillo era (predictably focusing on Blind Rage) and the classics, with the proportion of the latter steadily increasing as the pieced-together show draws to a close. It should also be noted that there are some serious lineup changes: after Blind Rage, Herman Frank quit the band, replaced by Uwe Lulis (formerly of Rebellion), and this means that Hoffmann bears the largest brunt of responsibility for all the lead guitar work — not that he has any problems with this. In fact, not that anybody has any prob­lems with anything on the album: this is two and a half hours of non-stop kick ass metal with barely a single mistake produced by anybody. They just roll on like a perfectly oiled machine, charged up 100% and disciplined to a tee — ironically, the Führer would probably be proud of these boys, even if all of their songs (nominally) rail against the Führer.

The only tiny problem I see is that, as technically awesome as this guy Tornillo is (you just don't find 60-year old singers every day who could execute all these gruesome vocal parts night after night), his work on the classics shows that he cannot properly replace Dirkschneider — for one thing, he does not have his high vibrato, so the fabulous choruses of songs like ʽRestless And Wildʼ and ʽFlash Rockin' Manʼ come off flat, since he just roars through them instead of vibra­ting like crazy. For another thing, he does not have much of an interesting personality — like everybody else here, he tears through the material with machine-like precision, where Udo would make himself look a little more humane and even funny on occasion. But hey, this is why Udo is U.D.O., and Mark Tornillo is just... Mark Tornillo.

As for the setlist, I will not even begin trying to identify the highlights. Stylistically, the old shit and the new shit mesh seamlessly, especially because the old shit selections are intentionally chosen to match the new shit — so we hardly ever get any of Accept's classic «oddities» like ʽPrincess Of The Dawnʼ: this here is fist-clenching, blood-curdling rock'n'roll from start to finish. Of the new shit, ʽNo Shelterʼ features a particularly intense bass / lead guitar battle that blows away the studio equivalent; and ʽPandemicʼ matures into a modern metal classic as its fade-out is extended into a climactic-epic coda. Of the old shit, I am particularly amused that they decided to unearth ʽSon Of A Bitchʼ, which may have been the single most ridiculous thing they originally recorded with Udo ("cock suckin' motherfucker, I was right!" always goes off with a bang). And altogether, perhaps the best compliment to the album is that I actually sat through it twice (that's a whoppin' five hours of non-stop metal crunch!) and genuinely enjoyed most of it. Good old metal'n'roll entertainment — well worth a thumbs up, even without Udo.

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