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Accept

With their brutal, simple riffs and aggressive, fast tempos, Accept was one of the top metal bands of the early '80s, and a major influence on the development of thrash. Led by the unique vocal stylings of screeching banshee Udo Dirkschneider, the band forged an instantly recognizable sound and was notorious as one of the decade's fiercest live acts. Despite recording two of the best heavy metal albums of the decade in Restless and Wild and Balls to the Wall, Accept remained too heavy and extreme for American audiences to embrace -- even when they tried to tone down their act with more melodic songs. Ultimately having conquered the rest of the world, but with their career stalled in the U.S., Accept fell apart, and by the time they reunited years later there was nothing left for them to say.

Vocalist Udo Dirkschneider formed Accept in his hometown of Solingen, Germany, in the early '70s, but it wasn't until quite a few years later that the band settled on a somewhat stable lineup, including guitarists Wolf Hoffman and Gerhard Wahl, bassist Peter Baltes, and drummer Frank Friedrich. A well-received performance at the Rock Amrhein Festival in 1976 brought them national attention, and they finally obtained a recording contract after replacing Wahl with guitarist Jorg Fischer two years later.

With America now looming in their sight, the band decided to hire producer Dieter Dirks (of Scorpions fame) to give 1985's Metal Heart a more commercial edge and extra sense of melody. Also with U.S. audiences in mind, they abandoned the hedonistic fetishes of releases past in favor of a much lighter sexual tone and typical heavy metal subject matter like the title track's apocalyptic vision. The results were mixed, for while the album certainly helped to further their cause in the States -- where they embarked upon a very successful tour sharing a double bill with Swiss hard rockers Krokus -- it tarnished their reputation among some of their loyal following back home. A live EP recorded in Japan entitled Kaizoku Ban kicked off the new year, as the band prepared to begin work on their seventh album, Russian Roulette, again with Michael Wagener at the controls. A somewhat rushed, halfhearted attempt to backtrack into more aggressive metal territory, the album led to a serious splintering within the group, and after headlining a sold-out European tour with Dokken in support, Accept announced that they were taking an open-ended break so that Dirkschneider could record a solo project.

Simply called U.D.O., the singer's first album, Animal House, was actually written and performed by his former bandmates. But when {U.D.O}. released a second album, Mean Machine, in 1988, backed by a new band, the remaining members of Accept (Fischer had left once again) began trying out new vocalists, eventually settling on American David Reece for 1989's Eat the Heat. A lightweight metal album, it bore little resemblance to classic Accept, and the band's subsequent U.S. tour (with second guitarist Jim Stacy) was first interrupted when Kaufmann suffered a back injury (he was replaced by House of Lords' Ken Mary, then cut short due to poor ticket sales and increasing personality differences with Reece). The group eventually disbanded and, except for the release of 1990s Staying a Life (a live album featuring the original lineup in their prime), nothing was heard of Accept for the next three years.

To everyone's surprise, Dirkschneider, Hoffman, Baltes, and Kaufmann eventually reconvened in 1992 to record Objection Overruled, which fared relatively well in Europe but didn't even dent the alternative rock-dominated U.S. market. The band continued to tour Europe and recorded sporadically over the next few years, releasing Death Row in 1994 and Predator (featuring Damn Yankees drummer Michael Cartellone) in 1996. Their final world tour included swings through North and South America and concluded with a number of sold-out engagements in Japan, after which Accept officially called it a day. ~ Ed Rivadavia, All Music Guide

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