Accept - Balls to the Wall
RCA Records
Heavy Metal
10 songs (44:45)
Release year: 1983
Accept, RCA Records
Reviewed by Goat

It'd be easy to write an entire review based upon the cultural impact of that cover art and album title. The delayed US release of the album (so as not to compete with Accept's previous album Restless and Wild, also delayed) was followed by a minor controversy over "gay metal" that the band mostly shrugged off. And indeed, nearly forty years later when crotch-focused cover art from The Rolling Stones and Mötley Crüe is downright celebrated, it's hard to see quite what the fuss about Accept's oddly artistic take on a similar style was all about. Particularly once you actually listen to the album, a metal classic that came right in the middle of the Germans' best run and that has more than enough great music to seize all attention. Some dismiss metal of this era as merely Judas Priest plus AC/DC (as though that were not inherently an awesome combination in and of itself?!) and sure, that's one way to describe Accept for those lacking any soul!

If you had to pigeonhole any song here in such a simplistic way then the militaristic opening title track, one of the band's best-known songs, is the closest, having a sleazy bar-rock groove and a touch of Priest's commercial peak to the riffs. Yet it has a visceral impact that's quite unique thanks to one man - Udo Dirkschneider. Accept's vocalist at the time had a downright weird voice that went all over the place from croon to moan, not a terrific singer but he could screech with the best of them, helping make this the rebellious anthem that it is, and his delivery of the chorus here is as thrilling in 2020 as it must have been when first being played way back when - "THEY'RE GONNA BREAK THE CHAINS!" indeed. And that strangely epic backing chorus sounds just as good when wordlessly singing as it does the building repetition of the song title and that eccentric "God bless ya!" The song is wonderfully constructed, those groovy riffs providing the perfect underpinning to the vocals alongside the solid if unshowy drumbeat, the great rock solo and rhythmic latter part of the track helping mask that it's nearly six minutes long. And that iconic music video (with Udo swinging on a wrecking ball decades before Miley Cyrus!) is still incredible (see below).

Tremendous old-school songwriting, proving the band's talent as craftsmen for the first of many times here. And as the album continues their other strengths come to the fore, such as London Leatherboys' terrific guitarwork from Herman Frank and Wolf Hoffman (the song title raising eyebrows, despite being about rival motorcycle gangs) or the upbeat and (relatively) aggressive opening to Fight It Back, the closest thing present to speed metal with its faster pace. Sure, this wasn't Accept at their heaviest but it was them at their most heavy metal - just listen to the Mercyful Fate-meets-Helloween melodic chug of Head Over Heels, that gorgeous long, widdly solo and Udo's shrieks and moans more than keeping you entranced, not to mention a deceptively clumsy chorus that soon works its way inside your head! The album is stuffed full of riffs, Love Child and Turn Me On compulsive foot-tappers if not outright headbangers, and pretty much every song has a killer solo and an infectious chorus to sing along to.

Aside from closing power ballad Winterdreams, which features a relatively restrained performance from Udo that is by no means bad along with plenty more compelling electric and acoustic guitarwork that keeps your finger from the skip button, the only point really worth of criticism is the production. It's a little more 80s than ideal, draping the drums in arena rock muffle, but it more than works for the guitars with a lovely thick tone helping elevate them and ensuring the bass is heard. Listening nearly 40 years later it all sounds timeless, except perhaps for the odd moment when a drum effect ages the music (Losing More Than You've Ever Had, for example, otherwise still a terrific song). And it would be strange to criticise an album released in 1983 for sounding like a product of its time, underground metal just beginning to emerge on Venom albums and Death demos but commercial heavy metal close to the greatest it has ever been. Accept came back from the grave multiple times with and without Udo at the helm, but they've never topped that classic early 80s run, and metalheads should not need persuading to listen to gems like this.

Killing Songs :
All! Especially Balls to the Wall, Fight It Back, Head Over Heels, Turn Me On, Losers and Winners...
Goat quoted classic
Other albums by Accept that we have reviewed:
Accept - Breaker reviewed by Ben and quoted 90 / 100
Accept - Too Mean to Die reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Accept - Blind Rage reviewed by Andy and quoted 84 / 100
Accept - Stalingrad reviewed by Chris and quoted 85 / 100
Accept - Blood Of The Nations reviewed by Marty and quoted 85 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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