Accept: Metal Heart
(Image credit: RCA)
Up To The Limit
Wrong Is Right
Screaming For A Love-Bite
Too High To Get It Right
Dogs On Leads
Teach Us To Survive
Living For Tonite
Bound To Fail
Long recognised as one of the most important bands in the history of German rock, Accept‘s stoically regimented style – a prototype for the power metal revolution that would take place in that country years later – was immediately obvious.
The band’s early albums were stuffed with the kind of testosterone-pumping anthems that became a benchmark for much of what that the band would achieve, but album number six, Metal Heart, saw them try something a little different.
“There’s the songs, of course, but it was more than that,” Saboton’s Joakim Brodén told us. “The vocals were different, Wolf Hoffmann’s guitar was different. And you can see that these guys, along with Judas Priest, were shaping what heavy metal is today. They represent the essence of this music.”
“What I like about it is the way in which the band balance a commercial melody against something rather hard and edgy,” latter-day Accept producer Andy Sneap told us. “It’s the sort of thing with which the Scorpions made their reputation, and Accept do it so well, without sounding like they were following in their fellow Germans’ footsteps.”
Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute.
Other albums released in March 1985
- 7800° Fahrenheit – Bon Jovi
- Behind the Sun – Eric Clapton
- First and Last and Always – The Sisters of Mercy
- Birdy – Peter Gabriel
- Disturbing the Peace – Alcatrazz
- The Power Station – The Power Station
- The Right to Rock – Keel
- Southern Accents – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- Tao – Rick Springfield
- Rogues Gallery – Slade
- Bad Moon Rising – Sonic Youth
- Equator – Uriah Heep
- Everybody’s Crazy – Michael Bolton
- Hell Awaits – Slayer
- Lost and Found – Jason & the Scorchers
- Night Time – Killing Joke
- Up on the Sun – Meat Puppets
- Vox Humana – Kenny Loggins
What they said…
“Accept still packed amazing power, heaping on their Teutonic background vocals for the ultraheavy Dogs on Leads and gleefully pile-driving their way through relentless moshers like Up to the Limit and Wrong Is Right. The brilliantly over-the-top Too High to Get It Right finds Dirkschneider screeching like never before, and to cap things off, the band really cooks on Living for Tonight – arguably the best track all around. A winning set. (AllMusic)
“Metal Heart would see Accept achieve the perfect fusion of the fast, furious, aggressive style they pioneered on Breaker and the more anthemic chant-along style they brought out on Balls To the Wall, yielding a true classic which seems less beholden to their influences like Judas Priest. If there is a distinctive, definitively ‘Accept’ sound, it is to be found here.” (Metal Music Archives)
“Metal Heart was slick and well executed enough that Accept could fool enough fans into believing it was as good as their prior albums. It is a great sounding and enjoyable album, but more of an overly polished guilty pleasure for me.” (Sputnik Music)
What you said…
Uli Hassinger: My first contact with Accept was the album I’m A Rebel and from then on I was a strong fan almost, joining every tour in the 80s. The real thing started with Breaker. When I first listened to Burning I was struck by the power of the song. The two following albums Restless And Wild and Balls To The Wall were the peak of their whole career. Both absolute metal milestones. The live album Staying Alive is also a crasher and belongs to the best live albums ever.
Let’s speak about Metal Heart. They try to experiment with other music genres and styles. The influences of classic music in Metal Heart and Bound To Fail were a big thing back then, because it was probably the first time this was melded with heavy metal. If I now listen to it it appears quite cheesy. Better done were the jazz elements in Teach Us To Survive, which still are special and cool.
The songwriting on this record couldn’t keep up with its two predecessors. There’s not a real bad track on it, but most of the songs are just average. There are only two songs which stand out. These are the gloomy Dogs Of Leads and the catchy Living For Tonite.
To sum it up, it’s a solid metal album. That’s all. 6/10 from me.
Carl Black: I was recently told by a member of this here group that Accept should be included as a forefather of thrash metal. And while they do have a claim to that crown with songs like Fast As A Shark I’m sorry to say, they don’t show any evidence of thrash on this outing. It’s competent hard rock that’s played well, but it’s just a bit ordinary. It reminds me of AC/DC’s mid-to-late 80s albums (not least because of the louder-than-a-bomb singing, which is incredible). One eye on American rock radio and one eye on the big arenas.
It’s OK, and one song goes to another, but nothing out of this world happens along the way.
Alex Hayes: Hmm. A big problem for me with this one was all in the timing. Ideally, my first introduction to the music of Accept should have been during my teenage years in the late 80s and not as someone rapidly approaching his 46th birthday in 2020. I’d probably have loved this album had the former actually been the case. It’s extremely well produced and executed, very aggressive, very macho, very ‘Teutonic’, and, frankly, slightly corny, metal. Another issue here was that I struggled with Udo Dirkschneider’s voice, which grated on me very quickly. There’s good musicality here though, and I can fully understand how Accept managed to cultivate both the influential reputation that they enjoy and the admirable career path they’ve sustained for decades.
Gary Claydon: I’ve always thought that if ever a German version of This Is Spinal Tap were made they wouldn’t have to look any further than Accept for inspiration for the titular band. It’s all there really, the album covers, the song titles, the lyrics (Exhibit A: “Son of a bitch, Kiss my ass“).
I first encountered Accept when I bought a copy of Breaker from the import rack at Virgin Records on a whim. I liked the album cover. I also liked most of the tracks it contained. Uncomplicated, unpretentious metal. Same live. This was a ‘leave your brain at the door and have a blast’ band and that’s absolutely fine by me. But they lost me at Metal Heart. Sure, the production was slicker than any of the earlier albums but this, combined with a more commercial approach clearly targeted at the U.S. market, actually detracted from the things I liked about them. It’s not all bad, the first four tracks are OK-ish but the rest? Dear me, no. Screaming For A Love-Bite? Did I mention my Spinal Tap theory?
All told, Metal Heart just comes across as a collection of recycled Scorpions and AC/DC riffs and Van Halen solos and it has never really grabbed me, I’m afraid.
Chris Downie: While the Scorpions deservedly hold the accolade of German metal’s finest exponents, there is a compelling case to be made that Accept deserve the proverbial honourable mention, not only on the strength of the Udo-fronted era, but the late career renaissance of the last decade, for which the contribution of impressive frontman Mark Tornillo cannot be overstated.
All things considered, Metal Heart is a curious entry in their back catalogue, in that it is often overlooked by diehards who typically opt for either Restless And Wild or Balls To The Wall as their finest hour. To merely strike comparisons with those admittedly classic releases does no justice to what is a very competent and enjoyable run-through of classic heavy metal, which would take pride of place in any traditional metal band’s catalogue.
If there is one other drawback however, besides falling short of their two definite statements, it is the dated production, which, like the Scorpions’ 1988 Savage Amusement and Priest’s Ram It Down the same year, opted for an overly-polished, reverb-drenched digital sound all too typical of that era.
When taken at face value, there is much to be admired about Metal Heart and for Accept unashamedly sticking to their guns, especially when viewed as an album in its own right and not as a comparison piece to their all-time greats. 7.5/10.
James Praesto: Ugh. I have been trying to get to this all week, and now I am out of time, so forgive the incoherent rambling. (It’s bed time for this old fart.)
Accept’s Metal Heart holds a special place in my heart. Both because I bought it (and fell in love with it) when it first came out, but also since it to this day is the first album in my “80’s metal” vinyl bin, staring at me every day from a place of my musical foundation. Even if I smack the rose-colored glasses of my face, and try to be objective, I feel it has aged well, and definitely drives home some points of musical relevancy to this day; especially in the context of what followed.
1985 was an interesting year for metal music in transition. Metal bands from outside the US commercialised their sound to appeal to a more lucrative market, and while many failed, some managed to do so without succumbing to the 80s synthetic over-produced style of recording. Loudness released Thunder in the East, produced by Max Norman, and Accept released Metal Heart, produced by Dieter Dirks. Both those albums brought something to the stage of 80’s metal that other bands did not. The sound was still “metal”, but with tons of melodic hooks, great guitar playing and a solid strong hard rock production.
Accept took their classical influences (mainly as a result of Wolf Hoffman’s affinity for the big Teutonic composers), and incorporated it into songs with strong riffs, pounding rhythms and absolutely nonsensical lyrics (they’re German – who cares?).
It’s like a drunken Bundesliga football crowd meeting up to sing Beethoven anthems… with tanks. (Come to think of it, that’s kind of scary, but still oddly beautiful.) This is perfectly showcased in both the title track and Bound To Fail, but we also get smart little tracks like Midnight Mover and Screaming For a Love Bite that are just centred around a very simple straight riff and a good hook.
Accept was already one of the strongest agents of influence on the German metal scene, but along with the domestic commercial success of “Metal Heart” they kicked it up a notch. Bands like Helloween effectively spearheaded a whole new Power Metal genre and based their brand of metal on the same powerful classical music themed twin guitar attack sound of Accept, paired with faster riffs and rhythms.
I was very much in love with the Power Metal scene, and Metal Heart was the gateway drug we all got hooked on to take us to that next level of melodic speed metal bliss. Some tracks on Restless and Wild (hello, Fast as a Shark) and on Balls to the Wall had showed us a flash of this before, but with its thunderous production and huge gang vocal choruses, Metal Heart took it to the top.
When I think of Metal Heart, I admit it takes me to a really awesome time of my early teens, when good times was all about pumping my fist in the air, with a boom box on my shoulder, or browsing though catalogues for bullet belts or Iron Maiden back patches for my denim jacket. But I also love the album for everything it did for a new brand of metal in Europe.
Even though it sold less in the US than Balls to the Wall, it became bigger on the other side of the Atlantic. Half the bands I later came to love may not have been around, had it not been for Accept in general, or the commercial success of Metal Heart in particular. They paved the way for a younger generation that realized it was OK to be metal, but still write melodies and not compromise on the quality or integrity of their sound.
When those new bands (like Helloween, Running Wild, Warlock or Sinner) now got scooped up left and right by European labels like Noise or Steamhammer – far away from the increasingly slippery slope of American radio metal – it solidified a genre that has stood pretty strong ever since, through all the ups and downs of the music industry. Sure, Metal Heart was the last good album in the strong run of 80s Accept albums, but its legacy is more about the beast it birthed unto the world, in the shape of the hundreds of bands that followed a slightly new path ever after.
(Also, for anybody into this particular album, check out Faceless World by U.D.O.; it’s like the spiritual successor of Metal Heart.)
Happs Richards: There’s a bit of rose-tinted nostalgia about this album, as I bought it after seeing Accept for the first time on the Metal Heart tour at Hammersmith Odeon, so yes, it’s different from their earlier stuff and the production does hint they were trying to break into the USA, but…
You’ve got to admit it’s a lot of fun and even after all this time I found myself singing along to Too High To Get It Right and Screaming For A Love Bite in the car, much to other drivers’ amusement.
Roland Bearne: With this one, I have to “out” myself; I love Metal, great big fist in the air head-nodding metal. From Accept and on through the alphabet. All the Edguys, Angras, Helloweens, Rhapsodys, love ’em all. Pure escapism and fun and Accept is definitely one of the prime movers of that whole Teutonic Metal massive.
I loved Accept from the first up until this release. Russian Roulette seemed to fade a bit, but I was surprised to find on fresh listening that I still love this. Got the vinyl when it came out and still sounds pretty darn good to me. Is it big dumb fun which will probably make King Crimson aficionados tut patronisingly? Well, yeah, sort of the point isn’t it?
Udo’s voice is a bit like shards of glass in a cement mixer but, it makes me smile! (Had dinner with him once, lovely chap, a gent.) To the album itself, I know criticism has been levelled at cribbing Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, but you can bet your burning Flying V that it was done with a tongue firmly wedged in Hoffman’s grinning cheek.
To go track-by-track would seem superfluous as after crashing in with Metal Heart, you kind of know what ride you’re on. Up To The Limit is simply one of the great metal anthems, if it doesn’t give you goose bumps, you just weren’t there! Screaming For A Love Bite and Dogs On Leads are both dumb as a bag of Krupp-forged hammers, but so? There is no doubt that Dierk’s sheen is all over this and there some decidedly Scorps-like guitar tones in the mix. So, they wanted to expand the audience to get a slice of the US, good for them I reckon and on this album, the balance of shiny production was about right.
Downhill from here on in really, until their more recent renaissance, and now we have both UDO and Accept. Win for us in my book. I love this and will score it highly!
Jonathan Novajosky: A real slasher of an album. I had never heard any of Accept’s albums before this, and I mostly liked it. The title track and Dogs On Leads were standouts, but I was really waiting for something to really grab me. I finally found it in the last two minutes of the album. The closing solo and “power chants” in Bound to Fail were so awesome and melodic, that it really made my overall impressions of this album a bit higher. 7/10
Marco LG: By the time I started listening to rock and metal with any seriousness, circa 1987, German Heavy Metal was a thing. Bands like Helloween, Rage, Running Wild, Risk, Kreator and Sodom – to name just the biggest and most obvious – were receiving acclaim from all magazines, and kids like me were all over their music.
Accept are hailed as the ones who opened the doors for this generation of heavy metal bands, by many commentators and many of the bands involved as well. They are part of rock history just as much as their fellow Germans Scorpions, who while Metal Heart was being recorded were touring the world like a hurricane.
With hindsight, it is no surprise Accept tried to follow in the footsteps of Scorpions by employing Dieter Dierks as producer and by making their sound more radio-friendly, but by choosing not to write any ballad and by overall sticking to the heavy side of metal they showed some real courage. The result in my opinion has stood the test of time rather well, making Metal Heart a thoroughly enjoyable album even today.
At the time the electric guitar arrangements of classical music were the topic of endless discussions, and the conversations we’ve been having this week, especially about the title track, prove these are still not to everyone taste. Personally I enjoy them, I was a fan of Wolf Hoffmann’s passion for classical tunes then and I am now. We all know he wasn’t the first to do it, that would be Ritchie Blackmore, and we all know how this evolved in endless symphonic power metal boredom, but this again was first done (without the boredom) by Deep Purple some twenty years previously.
The voice of Udo is another acquired taste, but I arrived to it after enjoying equally brilliant vocalists like Mille Petrozza, Rolf Kasparek and Chris Boltendahl. It was never going to stop me enjoying the music!
In conclusion, although it’s not Accept’s best album I still have fun singing along to Metal Heart while directing an imaginary classical ensemble of electric guitars. It’s a great album and will receive a high score from me.
Mike Ollier: Had a quick listen and the only thing that was crushed was my will to live. Truly terrible – might be OK if you’re a 14 year old virgin who plays Tomb Rider in your bedroom.
Christos Sideris: My first hearing from Accept was Metal Heart when I was roughly 14 years old, still remember the feeling. Fast forward 30 years later Accept still make me feel like 14 years old every single time. One of the greatest Bands out there.
Alexander Taylor: Oh yes, an incredible album from start to finish. Wolf was up there with the best in the 80s, and whilst this is more polished than the groundbreaking Restless And Wild it’s a monster heavy metal album. The fact that Accept and UDO can tour this music 30 years on make a living says it all. Check the Midnite Mover video now.
Mark Alaimo: This is Accept’s attempt to breakout into the US market. So they brought in producer Dieter Dierks. It was the right move.
The production on Metal Heart is excellent. Much more polished that any of their first four albums. Many sing along hooks throughout the record and so much fun to listen to. The heaviest song on the record is Wrong Is Right, you just gotta crank it all the way up. I mean, Wolf Hoffman just goes off here. They even went a little jazzy with Teach Us To Survive. Love it!
This is Accept looking to branch out and looking for new fans. Not being as intense, yeah it’s much more commercial that their previous albums, but once you put the needle down on this one, you just want listen to it at a very high volume all the way through. Worry about the tinnitus at a later time.
You can call this early voting. Metal Heart is a f’ing 10!
Mark Mellberg: Metal Heart is a blitzkrieg to the senses. There’s no doubt that Dieter put a little sheen to Accept, but the album is still fairly heavy. There’s a hell of a lot of tasty riffs on Metal Heart, and they should have at least got them to Gold status like Balls To The Wall. They didn’t.
Mike Knoop: I like Accept’s Metal Heart, but I liked it more before I went back and re-listened to Restless And Wild and Balls To The Wall for comparison. Those two albums were key to the evolution of metal and stuffed with headbanger anthems. Metal Heart is just another good heavy metal album.
And it is a heavy metal album. No one is going to get Metal Heart confused with Judas Priest’s Turbo or Whitesnake’s 1987 album. There are no guitar synths, keyboards, or power ballads. Udo’s bark hasn’t softened and the band still has plenty of bite.
It’s just all… less than, compared to what came before. While the songs aren’t softer, they’re somehow simpler – and not in a good stripped down way. Just not a lot of nuance. The title song sets the template with verses punctuated by title-shouted choruses, then solo, chorus again and out. Album closer Bound to Fail starts out promising but ends up feeling like a rewrite of their massive hit Balls To Wall with the gang “Oh-oh-ohs” meant for chanting in arenas.
But taken on its own, there are good bits. Accept tends to have more interesting lyrics than most metal bands, written with the band’s manager Gaby “Deaffy” Hauke. The title track is literally about a metal heart and what it means for humanity, not just a metaphor (metal-phor?) that heavy metal is awesome, which seems to be what it’s often written off as.
Midnight Mover paints a sordid picture of a drug dealer and I’m not really sure what Dogs On Leads is about, but I don’t want to run across them. Probably the most commercial thing about the album is that the same band that wrote Love Child and London Leatherboys is now writing about wanting a hickey in Screaming For A Love Bite.
Much like Triumph has the dubious honour of being Canada’s second-best prog-rock power trio, Accept are Germany’s second-best hard rock/heavy metal export. On Metal Heart, Accept sticks to what they do best, even if they don’t do it as well.
John Davidson: I’ll be honest, I nearly didn’t get past the opening track.
With its faux classical intro, generic riffs and cliched dystopian sci-fi lyrics about metal hearts, Accept set their stall out with an entirely safe ‘Metal of the Road’ album from a competent Headbangers Ball filler band.
The rest of side one is slightly better but never gets out of second gear. The riffs are stale, the singing is a cross between 80s Rob Halford and Brian Johnson and the solos don’t catch the attention.
Up To The Limit is probably the best of them. Wrong Is Right is probably the worst but it’s a tough contest between it and Screaming For A Love Bite which has a hair metal vibe to sit alongside the atrocious lyrics.
Side two is marginally better. Opener Too High To Get it Right has a decent groove and a hint of Steve Harris in the bass playing. The contrast between the gravel-gargling squeals of the lead and the melodic harmony work better than they should .
Dogs On Leads has a bluesy feel (which I generally like in my rock music) and is the most obviously AC/DC-inspired song on the record, but if you’re going to steal – steal from the best.
Teach Us To Survive is the most proggy entry, with plenty of energy and a jazzy bass line. The lyrics are still utter nonsense but it matters less when the music is at least interesting.
Living for Tonite is pure Scorpions tribute – not a bad thing but not exactly inspired.
Closer Bound to Fail is the weakest song on the second half with another faux classical intro and a weak attempt to create an anthemic sound which just comes across as ponderous.
Overall this is (for me) a long way from being a classic. It’s a competent enough bit of genre work but it lacks the flair of an individual talent to raise the bar for the band – there’s no Young, no Schenker or Harris or even a Brian Tatler to lift them out of mediocrity.
I did listento a few other tracks and have to say I preferred Balls To The Wall, Koolaid and Life’s A Bitch as individual tracks over anything on this album.
Side one might scrape a 4 , Side two deserves a 6, so I’m going to give this a 5/10.
Final Score: 7.03⁄10 (54 votes cast, with a total score of 380)
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Louder – Accept: Metal Heart – Album Of The Week Club review
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September 21, 2020