Accept

Metal Heart

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With 1985's Metal Heart, German metal institution Accept attempted to add catchier choruses and melodies to their high-octane guitar riffing in a clear ploy to crack the American market. Not that this move in any way upset the balance of their thus-far smooth-running metal machine, which had been gaining momentum with every release since the start of the decade. No, Metal Heart was certainly a step toward accessibility, but a cautious one at that -- and, frankly, there was no toning down when it came to the lacerated larynx of gifted lead screamer Udo Dirkschneider. You gotta hand it to Accept, they sure knew how to make an entrance by now, and the apocalyptic title track is about as dramatic as it gets (the operatic "Bound to Fail" comes close), with guitarist Wolf Hoffman taking the helm on a long, mid-song solo excursion containing equal nods to Beethoven (very nice) and Edward Van Halen (get real). First single "Midnight Mover" is next, and along with the even more melodic "Screaming for a Love-Bite," it places obvious emphasis on hooks and melodies (and proved to be the toughest to stomach for the band's more hardcore fans). But despite another strange detour into jazz territory with the bizarre "Teach Us to Survive," 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.

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