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Thursday, August 28, 2014

ALBUM REVIEW: Accept awe with Blind Rage release and toast their progenitors

THERE was a time when heavy metal was just heavy metal. There were no genres, sub-genres, scenes or trends. Occasionally a title might be used to group a diverse group of bands who emerged at the same time - such as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal - but all were simply heavy metal.

Accept are a band of that generation, and a number of the review team here recall them blowing Dokken off the stage in the 80s in Belfast's Ulster Hall.

However, Accept acknowledge on Blind Rage that themselves and their progenitors are a 'Dying Breed'. On this, the second track Accept name check almost all of the bands from previous generations, many of whose members are now in their fifties, sixties or older.

But like those bands have raised a middle finger to the split nature of much of the 'scene' promoted by the mainstream magazines. This is Accept, and Accept do what they do best - powerful, muscular metal.

And, you can even see where many bands follow in their wake, especially the so-called power metal bands. Such bands would do well to listen to 'Dark Side Of My Heart' and learn from the masters.

This album, like its predecessors 'Stalingrad' and 'Blood of Nations', shows why Accept are not prone to the clich├ęd and hackneyed band many other Euro-metal bands are, or have become. From the aforementioned 'Dark Side...' to the full on album opener 'Stampede' they demonstrate proficiency and understanding of their craft.

The ever-present Wolf Hoffman (he's been the lead guitarist since 1976) melds perfectly with Herman Frank in providing scintillating solos and melodic runs, such as on Blind Rage's last track 'Final Journey', which is simply a delight for guitar aficionados.

Setting aside Accept from many of their contemporaries is a rhythm section featuring Peter Baltes (who like Hoffman was there in 1976, with only a brief hiatus) bass and Stefan Schwarzmann drumming that keep the whole sound grounded in the Accept sound.

Lyrically this is as well crafted as any Accept album. While there are a few cringe-inducing moments ('200 years') mostly it deals with topics as diverse as the massacre of native Americans ('Trail of Tears') and human trafficking, drug dealing and capitalist so-called standards ('Wanna Be Free'). Even 'Dying Breed' has a seriousness within the metal community.

Mark Tornillo, therefore, has plenty of themes to work through, and does so with some skill, especially given the range of tempos on the album.

And, that range of tempos is part of the strength of 'Blind Rage'. From the full-tilt of 'Bloodbath Mastermind' to the mid-pace of 'Wanna Be Free' and 'From The Ashes We Arise'. 'Modern' metal bands would do well to learn this lesson.

Amongst the stand-out tracks is 'The Curse', which like much of the album melds muscle and melody. From its under-stated opening it progresses to a simple tale of how difficult it is to be good and morale in the 21st Century.

While some may see 'Blind Rage' as Accept re-treading past glories, they miss the point. Accept have developed incrementally with each release, honing what they do, but never straying from what they know and understand as heavy metal. We hail them.
Review by Jonny
Blind Rage is out now on Nuclear Blast

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