ACCEPT (1979–97). Udo Dirkschneider (vocals), Wolf Hoffmann (guitars), Jorge Fisher (guitars), Peter Baltes (bass), Stefan Kaufman (drums).
Formed in Solingen, Germany, in the early seventies, Accept were the first German metal band after the Scorpions to make a dent in the American and European markets. Featuring the caterwauling vocalist Udo Dirkschneider and the dual-guitar (often harmonizing) assault of guitarists Wolf Hoffmann and Jorge Fisher (on matching Flying V guitars!), as well as bassist Peter Baltes and drummer Stefan Kaufman, the band combined the power and precision of the Scorpions but with a harder edge that would be an important influence on the thrash metal that would follow.
While their first two albums, Accept (1979) and I’m a Rebel (1980), did little to distinguish the band, their third album, Breaker (1981), marked the emergence of the Accept style—a streamlined aggressive approach matching precision playing and classic, somewhat Judas Priest–style guitars with Udo’s inimitable wail over the top of their luscious sonic din. Songs like “Starlight,” the title track, and “Son of a Bitch” (the last track written about a record company) were tightly crafted blasts of metal that complemented the contemporary style of the new wave of British Heavy Metal that was evolving at the time. Another factor in the album’s favor was the contributions of producer Michael Wagener—who would go on to work with a veritable “Who’s Who” of hard rock and heavy metal such as Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, and Ozzy Osbourne. Wagener’s studio prowess gave the band a sonic punch and polish that did much to put it into the big leagues of heavy metal and helped the band garner the attention it had lacked in the American market.
Accept’s follow-up Restless and Wild in 1982 was their breakthrough. The songs and Wagener’s production were first-rate and original, showing the band’s capacity to innovate and energize the genre. The song “Fast as a Shark” in particular served as a template for thrash metal bands like Slayer and Anthrax who would come later.
The band’s next album, 1983’s Balls to the Wall, was even more successful commercially, and featured the headbanging title track that became a hit MTV video,featuring Udo’s unique vocalizing and stage presence and not a little homoerotic imagery. Accept helped promote the album with their first American tour supporting Kiss.
With 1985’s Metal Heart Accept attempted to build on their growing success in the States. Hiring Dieter Dirks, the Scorpion’s long-time producer, they also wrote more melodic material and toned down their lyrical sexual overtones, replacing them with more mainstream themes. These efforts led the band closer to mainstream success but at the expense of previous diehard fans who had supported their heavier approach.
1986 saw the release of the live Kaizoku-Ban and their return to the studio to work with Michael Wagener. The resulting album, Russian Roulette, was an attempt to go back to their more aggressive style, but the move led to tensions in the band over Accept’s continuing direction. Ultimately, the band took a bit of a break, with Udo releasing the solo album Animal House under the band name U.D.O. (with his Accept band members backing him in the studio).
When Udo put together his own group and released his second solo album, Mean Machine, in 1988, the rest of Accept sought a new frontman for the group and settled on American David Reese. The subsequent album, Eat the Heat (1989), was in a much mellower direction for Accept. Despite some airplay for the video “Generation Clash,” the album was a disappointment from both a creative and commercial standpoint, and the group disbanded shortly thereafter.
After a few years of dormancy, the band members (minus Jorge Fisher) reunited in 1992, releasing the album Objection Overruled. Something of a return to form for the band, the album did well in Europe but failed to generate much interest in the States, where the rise of grunge had fairly well decimated the commercial potential of most metal bands. Accept would record and tour sporadically over the next decade, releasing the albums Death Row (1995) and Predator (1997), officially calling it quits in 1997. In 2005, Accept reconvened briefly for a one-shot commemorative European tour performing most notably at the Monsters of Rock festival in Kavarna, Bulgaria.
Discography: Accept (Razor, 1979); I’m a Rebel (Passport, 1980); Breaker (Universal/ Brain, 1981); Restless and Wild (Portrait, 1983); Balls to the Wall (Portrait, 1984); Rest of Accept (Brain, 1985); Metal Heart (Portrait, 1985); Metal Masters (Razor, 1985); Kaizoku- Ban (Portrait, 1986); Russian Roulette (Portrait, 1986); Eat the Heat (Epic, 1989); Staying a Life [live] (Epic, 1990); Objection Overruled (CMC, 1993); No Substitutes (Sony, 1995); Death Row (Pavement, 1995); Predator (Sweat Shop, 1997); All Areas—Worldwide (Pure Metal, 1998); Rich & Famous (Drakkar, 2003).