Eight years into his tenure with the band, and the Mark Tornillo era of Accept is showing no signs of slowing down. Standing toe-to-toe with the definitive Udo Dirkschneider period, the band might not have topped the likes of Balls to the Wall, Metal Heart or Restless and Wild (all Portrait), but they’re certainly giving them a run for their money.
Life was difficult for Accept after Udo left in 1987. Eat the Heat (RCA/Epic), their one and only album with vocalist David Reece, met with a lukewarm reception at best, and even when Dirkschneider rejoined the band for a second stint, it was only 1993’s reunion album Objection Overruled (RCA/CMC) which threatened to come anywhere close to the classics.
So, after three failed attempts to get back on track (the band reunited briefly with Udo in 2005 before splitting for a third time), when Tornillo joined their ranks in ’09, it really didn’t feel like anything to get excited about. However, when Blood of the Nations (Nuclear Blast) landed in 2010, it was clear the band were well and truly back.
A commanding and authoritative release by a rejuvenated line-up, the Accept signature sound was back in spades, and in Tornillo they had found a vocalist who not only firmly possessed his own style and personality, but who could also carry off Udo’s distinctive delivery. The superb Stalingrad (Nuclear Blast) came next, followed by the stomping fury of Blind Rage (Nuclear Blast) and now comes The Rise of Chaos (Nuclear Blast), the latest worthy addition to the band’s legacy.
It would be unfair to say The Rise of Chaos is the weakest album since Tornillo arrived. However, it would be more accurate to say that it’s the least great. The band still sound as strong as they have for the better part of the last decade, but there’s a slight sense of complacency which occasionally creeps into tracks like ‘Hole in the Head’ or ‘No Regrets’. Neither are bad songs by any stretch, but there’s just a sense that we’ve been here a few times before.
However, it’s ‘Koolaid’ which is the strangest hiccup on an otherwise typically muscular album. Relating, as you would expect, to the infamous Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones, the chorus is all a bit too Rock n’ Roll for its subject matter, and features more than its share of uninspired lyrics. Also, and purely from a pedant’s point of view, the title is inaccurate as Jones actually used poisoned Flavor Aid to kill his disciples. Still, as he’s done before, guitarist Wolf Hoffmann comes flying in to the rescue with a brilliantly played, soulful guitar solo. Udo might have been the voice of the band for years, but make no mistake, Hoffmann was equally as important.
Those minor niggles aside, The Rise of Chaos stands as yet another example of powerful, Germanic Heavy Metal. The title track, ‘Die By The Sword’, ‘What’s Done Is Done’, ‘Worlds Colliding’, and the politically themed ‘Carry The Weight’ with its amusing mention of Brexit, are simply tremendous. ‘Race to Extinction’ closes the album off in suitably metallic fashion, but the best track on the album surely has to be the retro sounding ‘Analog Man’. A paean to vinyl, eight tracks, and everything of an old school, non-digital nature, there’s a delicious whiff of ‘Balls to the Wall’ about it which grabs hold of you and hurls you back into the 1980’s for just over four minutes. Magnificent.
Bassist Peter Baltes remains as reliable as ever, new boys Uwe Lulis (guitars) and Christopher Williams (drums) fit like a glove, and for his fourth Accept album in succession, producer Andy Sneap delivers an Andy Sneap production.
Four in a row. Boom.