I have to be honest here – even though I developed my love for this genre in the 80’s, I missed out on some bands. I mean, I knew their hit songs but didn’t really dig deep into their back catalogs. As I’ve matured in my musical tastes, I “discover” these bands and appreciate the songs I missed back then. If we’re being honest here, I think everyone can say there is at least one band you missed the first time.
Accept falls into this category for me. Of course, I knew and enjoyed “Balls to the Wall” whenever I heard it, but I didn’t actively seek out any other music from them. As I’ve grown older and they have continued to release music, I’ve learned more about them and enjoyed their music. The band has undergone many personnel changes over the decades they’ve existed, but their sound has stayed fairly consistent. If you are like me and need to learn more about Accept, then you definitely need to check out their latest release, Restless and Live. This 2 CD set of 27 songs performed on a leg of their 2014-2015 European tour encompasses most of their 40-year career.
From the opening track, “Stampede” (off 2014’s Blind Rage), to the final song, “Balls to the Wall” (from the 1983 album of the same name), you will find that every tune on this release just rocks. Bassist Peter Baltes and guitarist Wolf Hoffman provide the consistency with Accept as each has been with the band since 1976. These two have surrounded themselves with talented musicians with guitarist Uwe Lulis and friend of the Decibel Geek podcast, Christopher Williams (I highly recommend that you check out the show he did with Chris and Aaron by listening here). After longtime vocalist Udo Dirkschneider departed from the band in 2009, Baltes and Hoffman added vocalist Mark Tornillo (T.T. Quick) to the lineup. Tornillo gives all the songs the respect and attention they deserve so that you cannot tell (if you do not know) which songs are classics and which are the newer tunes. On Restless and Live, you know without a doubt that he has owned this material and is exceptionally comfortable with performing it.
As for the songs on this album, the selection is very good. You’ll hear classics such as “London Leatherboys”, “Restless and Wild”, “Midnight Mover and “Metal Heart” as well as terrific songs from their newer albums including “Teutonic Terror”, “Pandemic”, “Stalingrad” and “Dying Breed”. The album is well mixed and sounds incredible. The musicians demonstrate the mastery of their instruments which makes Restless and Live pleasing to the ear.
This is not a perfect album, however. For a live album, there really isn’t a lot of crowd interaction or even audience noise. I suppose it depends upon your preference as to whether this is a pro or con. I like to feel the concert experience with all the stage patter and crowd responses. I cannot fault you if you prefer not to have these aspects in a live album, though, because it is difficult to get a good balance between the band and the crowd and many albums have failed in this area in the past. A DVD/Blu-Ray is also available to complement this set. Perhaps that would give me more of what I need of the concert feel.
My other issue with Restless and Live has to do with the performance of their iconic anthem “Balls to the Wall”. This classic rightfully closes out the album but it completely lacks the kick it should have. Although the music is well-played, it is slower and tuned down. Tornillo sings with gusto, but the backing vocals lack energy. For instance, instead of the enthusiastic “HEY!” that could be heard on the original tune, here we get “hey”. It’s a shame because the rest of the album has tons of energy but the closer – their biggest hit – does not. It is a disappointing finale for a great album.
Restless and Live is a wonderful primer for those of us that need an education in all things ACCEPT but it is also a terrific greatest hits type of album for longtime fans of the band. The band is rumored to be in the process of writing and recording an album of all new music, so there’s more to come from them. Until then, this is a great retrospective that I would recommend to anyone – fan or newbie alike. The music is awesome, the band is incredibly talented and the track list is epic. Do not hesitate to give it a listen!