Does Accept Still Shine on The Rise of Chaos?
Legendary true heavy metal band Accept needs no fancy introduction. Since 1979, this Teutonic machine of hard steel pioneered the genre with speed, bloodlust, and the will to persevere, developing a long career that spawned around 14 records. Today, I pit my Venezuelan steel (and review machine) against the mighty German warlords. Can I stem The Rise of Chaos?
With their first vocalist, the iconic Udo Dirkschneider, Accept developed a genuine sound, mixing hard-hitting anthems with powerful riffs and vocal hooks. With hard work and perseverance, the band became one of the big names of Germany, and later in the European scene, headlining festivals and feeding the underground rabid dogs at the same time.
But, when the band saw the second amicable departure of Udo around 2009, Accept also had the chance to forge a new path. Blood of the Nations, the first album that featured former T.T. Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo, injected high doses of adrenaline and melted iron into their metal heat. The record also marked high commercial success for the Germans, and they were always welcomed with arms wide open in multiple venues. The following Tornillo-era records, Stalingrad and Blind Rage even surpassed the high mark of Blood of the Nations. In the end, Accept became one of the few bands in the genre that overcame their difficulties and delivered a perfect return to their loyal fan base.
In August 2017, this German tank unleashed a new chapter into their huge discography with The Rise of Chaos. Produced by Andy Sneap, mastermind of the whole Mark Tornillo era, this record is the first with Uwe Lulis and Christopher Williams in the ranks.
So what does this record offer to the metal legions? With such a highly praised career and a warm reception to their last output, the band entered dangerous territory. One false step and they could print a stain on their immaculate armor. No risk, no reward, however, so let’s dissect this beast into a track-by-track review and find out if The Rise of Chaos does honor to the Accept legacy.
“Die by the Sword”
The album opener starts fierce and furious with an ominous introduction and a razor sharp bending riff. From the very beginning, The Rise of Chaos is an album about dangers and darkness without sacrificing the band’s usual bite. Besides the political lines in the lyrics, what caught my attention on “Die by the Sword” is the dark grandiosity of the piece. The explosive, rock-steady rhythms are adorned in the bridges with male choruses that accompany the chord movements, a simple, yet effective embellishment to the catchy melody that supports the mood of the track. Tornillo varies a little bit his snark and offers more of his expressive range, with a couple of his piercing trademark heavy screams. The soloing is rabid and ferocious, like it should be, since it does not compromise the style of the composition. A killer opener, indeed!
“Hole in the Head”
In a more traditional Accept fashion, the second track features another standard heavy rock riff that is completely enhanced by the thick guitar and bass tone tandem. The catchy chorus is somewhat buried by the formulaic verses and bridges, reminding me a lot of Megadeth‘s groovy cuts of their later era, but the gang vocals and the crawling spider riffing makes it a pleasant listening that should definitely be a blast in a live setting instead of ton record.
“The Rise of Chaos”
Beginning with another “danger is coming” riff, the title track carries more headbang factor than the previous song. This one employs the same “higher than the sky” effect of the opener. Verses are built into thrash attitude; the bridge is moved with a melody that builds into an exploding, catchy chorus with a multi-voiced effect that concludes into the impeccable guitar soloing that is enhanced by the galloping thunderous drumming. Likewise, compared with “Hole in the Head”, the riffing and vocal melodies in “The Rise of Chaos” are way more fun! Imagine this in a live show with everybody losing their head and you get my entire thought.
Inspired by more precise historical facts, “Koolaid” sees the band exploring new territories. The song’s hard rock structure doesn’t move much, but the busy guitar work in the main riff clashes quite a bit with the other elements. Verses and choruses are influenced by classic rock, akin to their comrades Scorpions, with swinging rhythms and bluesy vocal lines. Hoffman and Lulis are a fantastic guitar duo, trading killer guitar solos with total ease and spotting precise scales and bends at the right places. “Koolaid” is one of those songs in which this combo shines.
The galloping drums evolve in this one, cementing the sharp riffing with double-bass gallantry, with a more shaky and thrash metal-like vibe. The aggressive verses take favor from the cutting main riff, and that same skull-cleaving riff later transforms itself into a melodic vocal exercise of catchiness and an intense guitar frenzy of fierce attitude. Overall, the song comes and goes between these two contrasts, and it is never boring. “No Regrets” is one of the highlights of The Rise of Chaos.
If you’re listening along at home on LP, you’ll notice “Analog Man” opens the second part of the record. “No Regrets” sentenced the first half with a crude and violent bite, but “Analog Man” pays homage to the band’s roots and their old hard-rocking style with anthemic verses and 80s drumming, pushing the speed once again to a more comfortable drive. The truth is that Accept is still winning, even with the cheesy lyrics on this one. These “old-school sons ’o’ a bitches” schools every one of their influenced peers on how to rock to an audience, and I totally see why “Analog Man” could be another live staple in their upcoming set lists.
“What’s Done is Done”
The seventh cut on The Rise of Chaos pushes the catchiness all the way to 11. “What’s Done is Done” sees the guys stretching their fingers and channeling power metal vibes with a great melodic chorus, courtesy of Mr. Tornillo. The incredible phrasing and the neoclassical inspired guitar work is ace on this one, reminding every listener why Accept is one of the main influences of bands like Helloween, Hammerfall and Stratovarius. This is a stone cold track that will lead the masses to a fist-bumping festival, and another killer cut for this ride.
What I have felt until know is that Accept created a more dark and mid-tempo album to place new bombastic pieces into their repertoire. “Worlds Colliding” only reaffirms this. While stumbling one more time with the “hard rock swingin’ movements,” the song sees a great splash of vocal hooks and flashy guitar moments into the formula. The thoughtful lyrical lines are dealt by Mark Tornillo with strict conviction, and that is a bonus to the track. But, there is some kind of fatigue to my ears in terms of writing and the continued usage of the structures of the songs, s, the placement of this track makes me think it would be great if it was located in the first half. It is not a bad song, it is just buried.
“Carry the Weight”
Along with “What’s Done is Done”, this is the aim to a more modern and slick power metal sound that just compliments so well the singles and the hard rock-styled first half. The galloping earth-shattering rhythms develop themselves into a terrific bridge that implodes into a melodic power metal school of thought. This subtle change lets the strings and the heavy-machine drums operate into a solemn and dynamic songwriting that provides new fuel to the album. I honestly sang along this tune along with the expressive Mark Tornillo voice for a couple of days. Another highlight!
“The Race of Extinction”
Accept finished The Rise of Chaos with another power and thrash-inspired mid-tempo cut, comparable to “Die by the Sword” and the title track. On the other hand, in “The Race of Extinction”, the band varies the formula a little bit, changing moods with great song crafting between the aggressive verses and choruses with an intense bridge that became one of my favorite moments of the record. I only wish it was a full song! The soloing once again is sweeping fun and the fading end, with the battery ram thrash attack, seals the deal with this record.
Some final words:
I deeply enjoyed The Rise of Chaos. It was extremely fun to listen to Accept exploring new territories with the power metal and thrash metal influences, but the repetition of the “hard rock” single songs and structures took a few points from my overall experience.
Casting aside those letdown moments, I think this is a cool record and another fine addition to this legendary band’s catalogue. These guys have nothing else to prove within their genre; they have conquered charts and are constantly named as an influence for a multitude of bands, so they are extremely confident in what they want to express with their music, and that shines in the whole record. And that, my fellow reader, is what good bands are made of: honesty.
Spin it for a while, and I’m sure you will sing along with me in a couple of tracks.
*beep* *beep* *beep*
We have the results on our Toilet ov Hell homemade machine, Accept’s The Rise of Chaos has a well-rounded rating of:
Catch The Rise of Chaos in the Nuclear Blast Records Shop, Spotify, Amazon and iTunes. Remember to follow Accept on the social media sites (Facebook and Twitter) and tell them you were sent by an Elfic sentient being.