BY: TJ FOWLER
AVAILABLE: Jan. 13, 2017
Label: Nuclear Blast
Not since Doctor Frankenstein robbed some graveyards, stitched together some body parts and harnessed the power of lightning and raised a dead corpse back to life has a band had such an equivalence of revival in popularity and creative resurgence as ACCEPT. Not Iron Maiden, not Judas Priest but the German Teutonic power house known as ACCEPT. They performed this miracle by going against the advice many labels and critics wanted them to do and bring back in Udo Dirkschneider, and got a completely new singer in Mark Tornillo.
So with new front man in tow, ACCEPT have released 3 albums: Blood of the Nations, Stalingrad and Blind Rage. Three albums I want to say, that TRULY shows how a band should make a comeback. And with Blind Rage the third of the albums, ACCEPT had their 1st # 1 in GERMAN AND FINNISH SALES CHARTS.
The band kept true to what made them successful and popular with fans to begin with(by playing classic heavy metal fist pumping songs) but not sounding dated or retro. Now, with three solid albums in a row, with a new singer no less has cemented ACCEPT in the minds current and older generations of metal fans as a bonafide metal behemoth. Most bands would sell their mother for a fraction of that winning formula.
So, after three studio albums what do we get? The obligatory live album and DVD to show the world WHY the band is currently relevant and WHAT it is that makes them that way. For me live albums are often times directed at current fans that already have a relationship with the band’s material. However, with Restless and Live, I feel the formula here is a little bit different due to just how great the band sounds on the live album and the energy of the performance you see on stage from the DVD. This is a live performance that will garner new fans and also help promote the band just in time for their upcoming tour with Sabaton that starts in just a week or two.
Because anyone who is already a fan knows how good the band is live. Anyone who has not seen the band live or familiar with the music will convert instantly upon hearing and seeing the band with this release. Pure and simple, folks.
First let’s talk about the live album. This one will be more for the current fans in terms of who it will please first. In short, the live album is one of the best live performances I have ever heard. Andy Sneap is a master producer for making the band sound so crisp and clean is such a large live performance which took place in an outdoor setting at the BANG YOUR HEAD SHOW in BALINGEN/Germany . Wolf Hoffman has never sounded better on guitar and Mark’s vocals have a bite and nastiness to them that the songs are taken to a whole new level in the live setting. And frankly the whole band sounds like they are fresh and strapping young lads ready to take on the world.
The live album covers both the new material and the classic material from the 80’s. They take a lot of the classic cuts from both eras mixing them together to make a nice live performance package for fans. There are even a few rare offerings in there that old fans will enjoy hearing I think.
Now, I want to touch on what I think will solidify ACCEPT in the hearts of fans
and also gain the band new fans with this release and that is the DVD. First, visually, the DVD captures the band in full HD resolution in front of a HUGE, eager crowd in Germany ready to rock with their Balls to the Wall. But more importantly the band shows how a band needs to perform live and how they should look live to get people to be interested in them. It’s all about the entertainment and visuals to you know.
For the majority of ACCEPT’s career guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes have been the focal points fans would look to as they were the most energetic on stage and with Wolf being the lead guitarist he will, by default, be the one looked at more. However now, with new additions to the band with singer Mark Tornillo and drummer Christopher Williams, fans have some new elements to focus on which I think makes the band more accessible to various types of fans. As I stated earlier, Mark has been in the band for three albums. He came in and put both his creative mark on the songs and also his own personality in his stage performance which adds a nice element to the mix. Then there is Christopher who just came into the band. For most bands, the drummer is the least visible guy to the audience as he is behind a kit and the singer and guitarists take on the role of grabbing attention from fans. However, on this DVD I couldn’t help but notice how charismatic Christopher was, in both his playing, visibility to the fans and the sincerity of his facial expressions when playing. The only other drummer I know that has really stuck out to me in a live performance, in terms of visibility, is Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden. In many ways on this DVD, I felt this was a coming out for Christopher. Yes the DVD is to show how the band still can deliver a total metal package in the modern age of metal but I think personally for Christopher it really showcases what a great drummer he is both technically but as a performer as well.
ACCEPT had a lot to prove with this live release. They needed to prove they
could not only make good studio albums but also perform them well live. Which they succeeded with. The DVD also proves that ACCEPT truly seem like band that is more than just Wolf and Peter and a ghost of Udo. The DVD shows ACCEPT as the way ACCEPT should be…a TOTAL band that delivers a total metal package to fans. If there is a fan in the audience that likes singers or wants to be a singer, Mark shows what they can aspire to be with his style of performance as a singer. For drummers, Christopher is the guy they will look to. Wolf for guitarists and Peter for bassists. ACCEPT no longer has to be Wolf and Peter trying to carry the whole show in terms of stage visuals. Though, they are still great at putting out a ton of energy and great attitude. The band really shines on songs like Midnight Mover, Shadow Soldiers, Pandemic, Restless and Wild and Princess of the Dawn.
Oh, I should mention Uwe Lulis, who is the second lead guitarist in the band. The DVD showcases him and Wolf trading solo harmonies in songs and Uwe performing some solos as well. The only thing with Uwe though is that…he mostly stays in the corner. He obviously has great guitar skills but he is not as active as the other guys. He has an amazing head of hair though.
I feel Restless and Live truly captures ACCEPT at their new peak in the new century. Not only does the band succeed in showing they can still be a great live band, they now have various members in the band that will make them more accessible to different types of audience members who like more than just the bassist or guitarist.
It also should be noted the live album is missing some tracks that are included on the DVD and vice versa. The biggest song of note is Princess of the Dawn. It isn’t on the live CD but IS included on the DVD. But overall, you should be covered as the DVD has 18 tracks and the CDs have 27. So what you miss on one you can find on the other.
Restless and Live is a must purchase for any fan of the band. It showcases the band in peak form that can rival any of their best performances from their long career. If there was any doubt about the band being able to perform live, this live release should put an end to those fears. If you are still not satisfied with how the band sounds in their current form… there really isn’t going to be any pleasing you. But I also feel those people are going to be a very small minority.
2017 is the year to be an ACCEPT fan. They have a European tour starting soon with Sabaton and this live package arrives just at the right time to let you know what you can expect from the band. If there is one thing I can say negative about the DVD is that, while it is truly fantastic, you really have to see the band live for yourself to see how great they truly are. So buy the live package to get an idea of how great the band is then go and see them on tour to truly see how great ACCEPT is. You won’t be disappointed.