When I think of heavy metal, I mean real heavy metal – not a band that tries to be loud for the sake of being loud, not a band that is really just hard rock but people consider heavy metal – the second band I think of is German metal band Accept (the first band is Judas Priest). Yes, not the most popular choice to associate heavy metal with I guess, but regardless that’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it. I’m talking beyond Balls To The Wall. Everyone knows that song, even metal heads that don’t know they know that song know that song. I’m talking the anger of Son of a Bitch, the sheer energy of Restless and Wild, the incredible musicianship of Fast As A Shark. No heavy metal band could make music like Accept.
(Since this album isn’t even released yet, there are no samples that I can give, other than the one right above, so I apologize, but as more videos come on to YouTube I’ll update this review.)
Sure some simple minded folks out there may have compared them to AC/DC, and maybe still do. I guess people can’t listen to a raspy voiced singer and put two and two together that Udo Dirkschneider sounds nothing like Brian Johnson. But I won’t get in to that hogwash. And it may be unfortunate that Udo hasn’t stood in front of the microphone under the Accept name for almost ten years – his own band U.D.O. isn’t bad, but they’re no Accept – but I think people have gotten over it. I hope people have gotten over it, because if not then they’ve missed out on a couple of pretty good albums. Well one fantastic one (2010’s Blood of the Nations) and a pretty good one (2012’s Stalingrad). Mark Tornillo, the bands current singer, was quite the excellent find for the band. He has a voice like Udo’s, so the pessimists shouldn’t mind, and he also singing capabilities superior to that of Mr. Dirkschneider. If I had to say which one was better though, there would be no contest that Udo takes the cake, he meant every word he sang with the band with a vengeance, but the reality is he isn’t the bands singer anymore. They moved on.
Frankly, as long as Wolf Hoffman is wielding the bands main axe, I see no reason for complaints. He and bassist Peter Baltes are the only members to have appeared in all incarnations of Accept (let’s not forget 1989’s Eat The Heat with David Reece on vocals, an album completely jeered by fans, yet an album I love when I accept it as a great metal album and not necessarily an Accept album) and they are the main driving force, always have been. They’re the ones you can trust to see that Accept will always be Accept. The band must be as comfortable as ever because they’re on the cusp of releasing their third album with Mark Tornillo on vocals, Blind Rage, keeping up the pace of a new album out every two years, and here I am to review this album I’ve highly anticipated (for obvious reasons I think I’ve stated already).
So I’ll get right in to it, like the way Blind Rage’s opening track Stampede does with its high power heavy metal energy in a way only Accept can make possible. It’d a pretty standard Accept track, frankly, as is second track Dying Breed, which has the slower heavy metal marching band beat that Accept can seem to pull off. Frankly if you’ve heard past Accept albums, you’ve heard these songs; this is something that kind of had me feeling a bit off when listening to their last album Stalingrad. But I may get on that later.
It’s the third track Dark Side of My Heart where I feel the album really takes off. I should say first off that one thing Blind Rage has that doesn’t really stand out on past Accept albums is well harmonized vocals at many moments that really make the vocals stand out, making the song that much more worthwhile. I mean it’s not the first time the band has done this (though Udo never really had the kind of voice that you could harmonize) it just happens to be more effective to me on Blind Rage. For Dark Side of My Heart, it may just be on the chorus that the vocals are harmonized, but that small moment in each chorus saves the song from being just another Accept song.
Fall of the Empire has something special to it as well, but not in the same way. It’s simply just a well written song that has some Accept trademarks, but in the end it stands out over other songs Accept has made. Then you get a stream of songs like the fast and thrashing Trail of Tears, the dark ballad turned slow and heavy beater Wanna Be Free, and 200 Years; another song that could be a typical Accept song if it wasn’t for the vocal harmonies.
Then there are three epics in a row, all around six minutes in length. Bloodbath Mastermind keeps up a pretty fast pace and has those terrifically harmonized vocals. Despite its six minutes in length, the song goes by in a flash. From The Ashes We Rise, which is just under six-minutes, has simply one of the best pre-choruses that I can think of. The only song I can think of to be comparable off the top of my head is their 1985 classic Metal Heart. I think the pre-chorus of this song is my favourite moment on the album. The Curse is the longest song on the album, clocking at six-and-a-half minutes. There is some great song writing done in that time span, from a musical and vocal standpoint. Just like From The Ashes We Rise, all three songs don’t feel like they are six minutes, because they keep me that entertained throughout.
Blind Rage ends with Final Journey, which I hope isn’t a message to fans. The song is a relatively fast paced song, with double bass drums pounding out of control from time to time and guitar riffs keeping the song in perspective. This is a song to please any long time Accept fan, because it again sounds a lot like songs they’ve released before, right down to the guitar solo. I haven’t mentioned Wolf Hoffman enough, which is surprising because he’s one of my favourite guitarists, and this song is the perfect example. Many points in the bands career Wolf has come along with a neo-classical guitar solo, but not in a shredding type of Yngwie Malmsteen way, but in his own melodic way which I’ve always LOVED since no one else really does that. Whether it’s his own original composition that sounds like something that an orchestra, like the song Neon Nights, or when he’s incorporating an actual classical music piece in to the guitar solo, like how Metal Heart included Beethoven’s Für Elise in its solo. He does that again with Final Journey’s solo, only this classical piece I unfortunately never knew the name of, which I’m kicking myself for.
Blind Rage not only ranks among the best Mark Tornillo sung Accept albums, but it also makes a case for all Accept albums in general. I’ve regarded Mark’s debut with the band, Blood of the Nations, to be one of the bands best albums. Stalingrad I really liked, just where Blood of the Nations had many stand out tracks and a few songs that sounded pretty much like songs the band had done before just with a different singer, Stalingrad had mostly songs that sound like the band had done before just with a different singer and a few stand out tracks. I don’t think Blind Rage is better than Blood of the Nations, but I haven’t decided just how far away the two albums are in my eyes. Accept does show a surprising amount of evolution so late in their careers, while keeping everything that makes them Accept intact for everyone to hear on these eleven tracks.
“Dark Side of My Heart” – I honestly couldn’t pick a true highlight. This is one of those albums that no matter how many times I listen, there isn’t one song that stands out, but rather three or four, and in this case maybe even five that I could say are the highlight. The reason I pick Dark Side of My Heart is because if you were to listen to Blind Rage from beginning to end, and if you’re familiar with past Accept albums as I am, this is the first track that may make you realize this album may be something special after all.
8 (Out of 10)
|“Dark Side of My Heart”||4:37|
|“Fall of the Empire”||5:45|
|“Trail of Tears”||4:08|
|“Wanna Be Free”||5:37|
|“From the Ashes We Rise”||5:54|