Accept has been around so long, churning out the same kind of old school Germanic metal that they’ve essentially become a younger, heavier version of AC/DC. This isn’t a bad thing really, as AC/DC is known for consistency and sticking to their (big) guns. Accept has charted a similar course, delivering album after album of rocking 80s style metal with just enough melody and quasi-pop-acumen. The Rise of Chaos is the fourth album featuring Mark Tornillo on vocals and he continues to settle into the foundation the band’s been building since the 70s. It also marks the departure (again) of mercurial guitarist Herman Frank as well as significantly less mercurial drummer, Stefan Schwarzmann. Considering all the lineup shuffling, there are no real surprises to be found herein and the basic recipe remains the same – hard rocking songs for lovers of classic metal who like to chug beers whilst spinning attitudenal tuneage. As with the ancient, esteemed AC/DC, it all comes down to the song writing at this point in Accept‘s career and once again they nail it more often than not. But not without a few costly mistakes along the way.
Opening cut “Die By the Sword” is a prime example of the Accept playbook at peak operational strategery. It’s got just the right amount of aggression in the riffs, some flashy axe-work, a huge, anthemic chorus and plenty of those Teutonic oooh-oooh-ooohs Accept loves so much. Tornillo even goes for some Halford-esque wailing and screeching to put a fat stamp on the whole package before mailing. It’s a song I’ve been habitually spinning and I love it muchly. Just as expectations (and chaos) rise however, “Hole in the Head” comes out with the opening line “I need you like a prison term,” and things start to go pear-shaped. It isn’t a totally bad song, but it’s very rote and generic with some really unfortunate lyrical choices (“I tried so hard to quit you”). Yuck.
From there it’s metallic hopscotch from good songs to more questionable fare. Cuts like “What’s Done is Done” and “Worlds Colliding” are catchy, enjoyable rockers with good choruses and enough balls proximate to walls to satisfy fans. Other selections however, like “No Regrets” slightly misfire and feel less uninspired. “Koolaid” is a song about the Jonestown tragedy, which is obviously a serious event. While the song is mostly entertaining, when the chorus of “Don’t drink the Koolaid!” hits it’s unintentionally hilarious, which is unfortunate considering the source material. On top of that, the song sounds way too much like “Hoodoo Woman” by Krokus at key moments (yes, Krokus, motherfucker!). Album closer “Race to Extinction” is quite heavy but is the least engaging songs here and should have been left off entirely.
Besides the opener, the song that strikes me most is “Analog Man,” which tells of the confusion older folk feel in this increasingly hi-tech age. It has a simplistic rock structure much like, you guessed it, AC/DC, but the lyrics are so insightful, funny and true, they raise the song up a few notches. In fact, the line “I’m just an old school son of a bitch in a digital world” will now be the official tagline for Steel Industries, Ltd.
At 46 minutes and ten tracks, The Rise of Chaos is the ideal length. The production is a tad loud but in that stadium-ready hard rock way that suits the material. Tornillo is way out front with the guitars occupying the remainder and a fat, reverberating drum sound backing it all up.
Speaking of Mr. Tornillo, he’s grown into the frontman role well since taking over for the legendary Udo Dirkschneider. He has the same kind of raspy bark but possesses a much more versatile voice, capable of clean singing and wild screaming. He brings a Brian Johnson-esque tough guy grit to the proceedings and makes the music a bit heavier even when things are catchy and accessible. He sounds extra venomous this time out too, hitting more high notes and scrotum-testing screams. Founding guitarist Wolf Hoffman ensures every album is full of slick riffs and even slicker solo-work, and there’s no shortage of that here. He and well-traveled new axe Uwe Lulis (ex-Grave Digger, ex-Rebellion) work well together and splatter the album with enjoyable 80s metal moments that propel the songs along to mostly good ends. Wolf doesn’t get near the amount of praise he should and I enjoy his playing on every song.
The Rise of Chaos is another rocking, hard-charging album with more hits than misses, and for a band as vintage as Accept, it sounds satisfyingly pissed-off. It’s not quite as good as Blind Rage, but it’s well worth hearing for fans and newbies alike. As long as you are, in fact, about to rock, this will work just fine for you. The rest may now leave the hall.