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ACCEPT Restless & Live

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Thursday, January 12, 2017 @ 2:33 PM


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ACCEPT
Restless & Live

Nuclear Blast Records




Despite a bigger, splashier package, German icons ACCEPT got beaten to the live album punch by fireplug former frontman Udo Dirkschneider, who has been revisiting his stints with the band, supposedly for the final time, on a worldwide tour for much of the past year. As part of that campaign, Dirkschneider offered his Live - Back To The Roots double album last Fall that featured nothing but vintage ACCEPT material – a good two hours’ worth captured in a modest club setting.

Though it was recorded nearly a year earlier in more massive festival environs, ACCEPT’s Restless & Live arrives in mid-January – with the gap no doubt having something to do with the fact that it’s a CD/DVD set available in a variety of formats. For our purposes, I will focus on the CD, which contains 27 songs and nearly two-and-a-half hours of music, compared with 18 tunes on the DVD.

The big difference between Restless & Live and Dirkscheider's outing, other than Mike Tornillo being behind the mic, is that more than half of the material here is from ACCEPT’s three most recent albums – all of which Tornillo sang on, successfully relaunching the band and re-establishing it after a short-lived, and final, reunion with Dirkscheider in 2005. So it’s more than just a mere stroll down memory lane, a la Back To The Roots.

Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. While arguably all of ACCEPT’s genuine classics – “Balls To The Wall”, “Fast As A Shark”, “Metal Heart”, etc. – are from the first Dirkschneider era of the 1980s, when the band was at its commercial peak, that period already has been represented by the live album Staying A Life and live EP Kaizoku-Ban, both of which are still easily available. The newer, Tornillo-era tunes, while perhaps not as immediately engaging, nevertheless have given ACCEPT a jolt of new energy and a grittier edge that makes it a more potent, less cheesy live act than the choreographed and camouflaged band of old – although guitarist Wolf Hoffmann can still ham it up with the best of ‘em.

You can hear that right off the bat, with the rousing opener “Stampede” from ACCEPT’s most recent studio album, 2014’s Blind Rage, getting things rolling with a bang followed by the gruff, grim title track from 2012’s Stalingrad and the buoyant, hooky hard rocker “Hellfire”, also from Stalingrad. It’s still very much ACCEPT – catchy, chugging riffs; driving, head-bobbing beats; flashy solos and guitar harmonies; gang-shouted choruses and raspy lead vocals. There's just some extra heft and a looser, not so contrived - or at least polished - vibe thanks, in large part, to Tornillo's blue collar approach as frontman, which recalls AC/DC's Brian Johnson more so than Dirkscheider. This holds true on old-school tracks as well, like “Living For Tonight”, “Losers And Winners” and “Flash Rockin' Man”.

Restless & Live is front-loaded with newer tunes, including the somewhat clunky “200 Years” and hokey “Dying Breed” which are countered by the feisty “Final Journey”, the crunching blues of “From Ashes We Rise” and the back-to-back epics “No Shelter” and “Shadow Soldiers”. But with Metal Heart's “Midnight Mover” marking the halfway point, more older tunes, among them “Starlight”, “Son Of A Bitch” and “Restless And Wild”, are introduced.

The stretch run pits the band's legendary “Fast As A Shark”, “Metal Heart” and the inevitably elongated sing-along “Balls To The Wall” against would-be classics like Blind Rage's infectious “Dark Side Of My Heart”, Blood Of Nation's signature anthem “Teutonic Terror” and the intriguing surprise “Bulletproof” from 1993's underappreciated Objection Overruled. In the end, Restless & Live comes off as a nicely balanced package that finds ACCEPT honoring its legacy while focusing on the present, which would seem to bode well for the future.

Long-time fans might not be too keen on the wealth of newer material here – especially when it comes at the expense of favorites like “Breaker”, “Princess Of The Dawn” or, perhaps “Screaming For A Love-Bite”. But fresh music, as opposed to the crass nostalgia so many “rejuvenated” acts see fit to offer, is what’s given ACCEPT new life – and most of it stands up pretty well to the more familiar vintage fare anyway. And for those who disagree, there’s always the Dirkschneider fallback. So win-win.

3.5 Out Of 5.0

Pick up your copy of Restless & Live in the KNAC.COM More Store right HERE.


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