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Up to Eleven - Restless and Wild

Posted by ENKC , in Up to Eleven 11 December 2010 · 394 views

Up to Eleven - Metal's Finest Hours

Ever wondered if there was more to metal but were too embarrassed to ask? Wanted to hear the good stuff but didn't know where to look? Well, now you do. One album at a time...

Accept - Restless and Wild (1982)

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1982 was the year of heavy metal's greatest commercial breakthrough and also a milestone in its artistic development. Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast became the single most famous metal release of all (Metalli-who?). Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance sold a gazillion copies. Venom's Black Metal almost single handedly created the three major subgenres of what we now call extreme metal (that's thrash, death and black for those taking notes).

But these were just the obvious peaks. Playing Bosh to their James and Wade was a record that - while less known to modern audiences - was utterly groundbreaking for its day and influenced many who would forge the genre ahead.

Restless and Wild positively bleeds heavy metal. That much you could tell before you even hear it. The name is perfect and the album art was so darned metal that it was actually banned in the United States. Yes, really.

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The children of America could sleep safer at night knowing this only moderately metal cover was gracing store shelves.

But before we get onto the music itself, just who were these Accept chaps? Well, whereas the big name pioneers of metal had heretofore hailed from the 'Black Country' of northern England, Accept began life as a schoolboy rock 'n' roll band in Solingen, Germany as early as 1968.

A decade of rotating band members and working up through the club scene later and they found themselves ready to hit the recording studio. Oh yes, they paid their dues on the live circuit those days. None of this 'Operator Please' overnight sensation nonsense in Cold War Germany.

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The career of the first 'Austrian Idol' winner was not as successful as first hoped.

Released in 1979, Accept's self titled debut album was a mess of songs accumulated through years of touring. It was however a promising mess, and the start of great things to come. It was shortly followed by the less messy and more promising I'm a Rebel in 1980 (Fun piece of trivia - the title track was originally an unreleased AC/DC song written by Alexander Young, elder brother of Angus and Malcolm.) and the less-promising-more-delivering Breaker in 1981.

Their biggest commercial success, and the one song you have almost certainly heard from them came in either 1983 or 1984 (depending on your side of the pond) in the form of Balls to the Wall. To this day, the music video has cast the enduring image of the band in the public conscience as 'that one with the angry German camoflauged midget'.


But before that was this. An album rightly regarded as the more influential of the two, albeit the less enduringly popular. Why? I'm glad I rhetorically asked.

Ever heard of the 'Big 4' of thrash metal? A few little bands by the names of Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica? Well, none of that kicked off until 1983 and it didn't just appear from nowhere. Those guys spent their formative years listening to the hardest hitting music on offer.

Which brings us to nothing less than one of the single most influential tracks in the history of metal. That being the opener for this record, a blistering speed metal onslaught called Fast as a Shark

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This facial expression was common on the first listen.

When the comical German folk tune first gave way to Udo Dirkschneider's bloodcurdling scream and that thunderous riff, jaws across America fell on their garage floors so hard they almost cracked. And yet, arguably the real highlight is Wolf Hoffman's masterful, classically inspired soloing which immediately marked this band as a cut above their peers.

If the intensity, technical skill and general arse-kickingness remains evident today, then for 1982 it was freaking mindblowing. Actually, why am I still talking when I could let Charlie Benante say it for me?

Skip to the seven minute mark if you're too lame to watch the whole thing.

This gives way to the rebel anthem of the title track and follows up with a series of so-called 'mid paced rockers' which are the bread and butter of traditional metal albums. Which is not to say it's pure filler, and there are certainly some special moments. Indeed, Demon's Night was so heavy it lent itself admirably to a Cannibal Corpse cover.

Another notable track is Flash Rockin' Man, and for at least two reasons. It opens with a textbook example of 'the most used riff in heavy metal', also known as the 2 Minutes to Midnight riff. If this concept is unfamiliar to you, fear not, for I shall no doubt explicate it in another blog.

The other fascinating part of this song is the section at 2:38. This is considered a prototypical example of a 'thrash break'. This is to say an alternative riff to bridge sections of the song, in the 'chugging' style that was to become central to thrash metal's trademark sound.

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This form of chugging is also central to thrash metal.

They'd have been forgiven for resting on their laurels at this point, but Accept weren't finished yet. Closing out the album, they went off on a complete tangent with the abstract and mystical epic of Princess of the Dawn.

To call this 'out of left field' would be an understatement. Demonstrating most qualities one wouldn't expect from a metal tune - especially at the time - this is a slow burning, slow building piece with an ominous riff and atypically understated vocals. Add some tasteful use of synths (surprisingly, that is possible) and more classic Hoffman soloing, and you have a closer which is as memorable as it is unexpected.

As a final note, I can't resist mentioning the origin's of Accept's lyrics. Being a German band performing in English to find a broader audience, Accept relied for most of their lyrics on their manager Gaby Hauke. Gaby was later to marry Wolf Hoffman and was always credited on albums simply as "Deaffy".

Being as she was a woman in a distinctly male-oriented genre however, did result in some eyebrow-raising moments, not least on London Leatherboys which appeared on Balls to the Wall.

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There's nothing homoerotic about this at all. Move along, nothing to see here.

At least three reunions later, a version of Accept is going strong today with one of the strongest traditional heavy metal releases in recent memory, albeit minus Udo the angry camoflauged midget. Regardless, this one legendary record alone is enough to cement their place in history.

EN/KC is Vooks.net's resident metal nerd. He enjoys long, moonlit walks on the beach and talking about himself in the third person. I hear he's also quite handsome.

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Dec 11 2010 07:53 PM
11/10. That made me both laugh and want to listen to metal.
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