For the band that had, since the early 70s, blazed the trail for European heavy metal, 1982 was a very good year. With the Blackout album, Scorpions made the transition from cult act to global stars. And it was in that same year that Germany’s second-greatest metal band made its mark.
Accept originated from Solingen, known as the ‘City Of Blades’ for its production of swords, knives and razors. And the band’s 1982 album, Restless And Wild, had a sound to match: steely and cutting-edge. This groundbreaking album – a key influence in the development of thrash metal – was the making of Accept. But it had taken them years to reach this point. The reissue of the band’s first four albums, from 1979 debut to Restless And Wild, reveals a struggle for identity and integrity before they made what was, in the parlance of the times, a cranium-crunchin’ classic.
Their self-titled first album (4⁄10) was released in the same month as Scorpions’ monolithic Lovedrive. The contrast between the two was stark – men and boys. Only two songs, Sounds Of War and Helldriver, had the machismo that would become Accept’s trademark.
What followed in 1980 with I’m A Rebel (5⁄10) was a failed attempt at a more radio-friendly sound. The title track, an anthem, was written by Alexander Young, the older brother of Angus and Malcolm, and recorded by AC/DC in 1976, although never released. Accept made it their own, but other songs betrayed a lack of focus, notably the disco-influenced Save Us.
In reaction, the band got tough on 1981’s Breaker (7⁄10), a defining album. Tracks such as Starlight had a manic quality, with singer Udo Dirkschneider screaming like Rob Halford. In the foul-mouthed Son Of A Bitch was a defiant fuck-you to record company politics.
And then came Restless And Wild (9⁄10). Its opening salvo, Fast As A Shark, was the blitzkrieg attack that prefigured thrash. And in the title track and the grand finale Princess Of The Dawn was the sound of a band that had at last realised its full power.
Their biggest hit came in 1983 with Balls To The Wall, but for Dirkschneider, who last performed with the band in 2005, Restless And Wild remains “the most important Accept album”. More than that, it’s an all-time heavy metal masterpiece.