With their brutal, simple riffs and aggressive, fast tempos, Accept were one of the top metal bands of the early '80s, and a major influence on the development of thrash.
Led by the unique vocal stylings of screeching banshee Udo Dirkschneider, the band forged an instantly recognizable sound and was notorious as one of the decade's fiercest live acts. Despite recording two of the best heavy metal albums of the decade in Restless & Wild and Balls to the Wall, Accept remained too heavy and extreme for American audiences to embrace -- even when they tried to tone down their act with more melodic songs. Ultimately having conquered the rest of the world, but with their career stalled in the U.S., Accept fell apart, but reunited years later to confront a radically changed music marketplace.
Vocalist Udo Dirkschneider formed Accept in his hometown of Solingen, Germany, in the early '70s, but it wasn't until quite a few years later that the band settled on a somewhat stable lineup, including guitarists Wolf Hoffman and Gerhard Wahl, bassist Peter Baltes, and drummer Frank Friedrich. A well-received performance at the Rock Am Rhein Festival in 1976 brought them national attention, and they finally obtained a recording contract after replacing Wahl with guitarist Jörg Fischer two years later. Issued in 1979, their eponymous debut was badly produced, featured mostly subpar songwriting, and did absolutely nothing for the group. But with the arrival of new drummer Stefan Kaufmann prior to 1980's much-improved I'm a Rebel, Accept had the final ingredient they were looking for, and their popularity began growing by leaps and bounds.
Released in 1981, the even more accomplished Breaker was engineered by Michael Wagener (who would go on to produce such major hard rock acts as Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper, and Ozzy Osbourne, among others) and continued to develop Accept's trademark sound, featuring the massive crunch and tight precision of Hoffman and Fischer's guitars laying the foundation for Dirkschneider's inimitable shriek -- akin to Bon Scott on helium. They also signed a worldwide deal with CBS Records subsidiary Portrait, and secured professional management from Gaby Hauke, who, under the Deaffy pseudonym, would help the bandmembers write most of their English lyrics from that point forward. Despite Fischer's sudden departure after a successful European tour supporting Judas Priest, the band was poised to conquer Europe with its powerful Teutonic heavy metal.
All the elements were falling into place, and with the release of 1982's Restless & Wild, Accept finally stamped their passports to stardom. A heavy metal milestone, the album broke the band's career wide open, established its signature sound for years to come, and in the incredible "Fast as a Shark," featured what was possibly the first true thrash metal song ever recorded. Guitarist Hermann Frank was brought in for the ensuing tour, which, thanks to their ferocious live shows (including choreographed headbanging stage antics), turned Accept into true stars all across Europe and the U.K. Released in 1983, the equally revered Balls to the Wall was an even greater commercial triumph, and qualified as one of the most obsessive, sexually explicit albums of all time. Led by the controversial title track, it broke Accept worldwide and earned them their first magazine headlines in America. Fischer was invited back into the fold at this time, and Accept embarked on a year-long world tour that took them as far as Japan and culminated in a triumphant appearance at the 1984 Castle Donington Monster of Rock Festival.
With America now looming in their sights, Accept decided to hire producer Dieter Dierks (of Scorpions fame) to give 1985's Metal Heart a more commercial edge and an extra sense of melody. Also with U.S. audiences in mind, they abandoned the hedonistic fetishes of releases past in favor of a much lighter sexual tone and typical heavy metal subject matter, like the title track's apocalyptic vision. The results were mixed, for while the album certainly helped to further their cause in the States -- where they embarked upon a very successful tour sharing a double bill with Swiss hard rockers Krokus -- but it tarnished their reputation among some of their loyal following back home. A live EP recorded in Japan entitled Kaizoku-Ban kicked off the new year, as the band prepared to begin work on its seventh album, Russian Roulette, again with Michael Wagener at the controls. A somewhat rushed, half-hearted attempt to backtrack into more aggressive metal territory, the album led to a serious splintering within the group, and after headlining a sold-out European tour with Dokken in support, Accept announced that they were taking an open-ended break so that Dirkschneider could record a solo project.
Simply called U.D.O., the singer's first album, Animal House, was actually written and performed by his former bandmates. But when U.D.O. released a second album, Mean Machine, in 1988, backed by a new band, the remaining members of Accept (Fischer had left once again) began trying out new vocalists, eventually settling on American David Reece for 1989's Eat the Heat. A lightweight metal album, it bore little resemblance to classic Accept, and the band's subsequent U.S. tour (with second guitarist Jim Stacy) was first interrupted when Kaufmann suffered a back injury (he was replaced by House of Lords' Ken Mary), then cut short due to poor ticket sales and increasing personality differences with Reece. The group eventually disbanded and, except for the release of 1990's Staying a Life (a live album featuring the original lineup in its prime), nothing was heard of Accept for the next three years.
To everyone's surprise, Dirkschneider, Hoffman, Baltes, and Kaufmann eventually reconvened in 1992 to record Objection Overruled, which fared relatively well in Europe but didn't even dent the alternative rock-dominated U.S. market. The band continued to tour Europe and recorded sporadically over the next few years, releasing Death Row in 1994 and Predator (featuring Damn Yankees drummer Michael Cartellone) in 1996. Their world tour included swings through North and South America and concluded with a number of sold-out engagements in Japan, after which Accept officially called it a day until, 14 years later, they came out of retirement (with new vocalist Mark Tornillo) to release their 12th studio album, Blood of Nations, in 2010. Stalingrad: Brothers in Death followed two years later, and the band's 14th album, Blind Rage, arrived in 2014. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi