Release date: August 4, 2017.
Label: Nuclear Blast.Post-reformation Accept is one of the greatest heavy metal comeback tales of the last decade: After sitting out the better part of ten years, a classic band reforms, albeit without their iconic vocalist, and then proceeds to lay waste to any belief that they might not be as strong as they once were. 2010’s Blood Of The Nations was as good a reunion effort as any band has ever released, and the two albums since – while not exactly widening the path – maintained the trajectory with masterful skill and grace.
Of course, not all paths can continue onward without a bump or two, and here’s the first: I have to concede that The Rise Of Chaos isn’t quite as good as Blind Rage, or as good as Stalingrad, or as good as Blood Of The Nations. But take that criticism with the knowledge that, even if slightly lesser than three really strong albums, that leaves plenty of room for Rise to still turn out very good. The majority of Rise Of Chaos is strong – it’s just a bumpy, up and down ride…
One thing all four Tornillo-fronted albums have in common is stellar opening tracks. Blind Rage’s “Stampede,” Stalingrad’s “Hung, Drawn And Quartered, and Blood’s gleefully glorious tandem of “Beat The Bastards” and “Teutonic Terror”… Chaos’ “Die By The Sword” fits right in line, getting the album off on the right foot, even if it’s almost instantly tripped up by the worst song on hand, the silly “Hole In The Head.” Little more than a corny list of putdowns, “Hole In The Head” sinks beneath the weight of weak lyrics – put later in the running time, and it might make a fine seventh track, the grower of the bunch that over time, you find yourself listening to more often as you burn out on the big dogs, but placed second, it’s just a hurdle to overcome.
Thankfully, The Rise Of Chaos overcomes – it even improves, for one song, before it hits another bump. The title track is prime modern Accept – Hoffmann and new guitarist Uwe Lulis ride some rock-solid riffing, through a melodic pre-chorus into a shout-along chorus that milks perfectly the AC/DC-esque tandem of Tornillo’s soaring screech and lower background vocals singing the hook. Tornillo explores the upper reaches of his scream, the song ending on some killer shrieking from the man with the beautifully ragged growl. Thereafter, the Jonestown tale of “Koolaid” delves back into some hamfisted lyrical ground, although the song itself is musically pretty solid – just that hearing those Teutonic backgrounds chant-snarling “Don’t drink the Koolaid!” is a little… silly. (Interesting factoid: Jonestown didn’t have Koolaid – the People’s Temple revolutionary suicides actually drank grape Flavor-Aid. Not that anyone cares. Which I guess makes that factoid not so interesting. Whatever. Moving on…)
“No Regrets” is another upswing, and then there’s another bump in the “these kids today”-isms of “Analog Man” – “I’m an analog man trapped in a digital world.” Like “Koolaid,” “Analog” is a fun enough rocker, with some more hints at AC/DC in the riffing, but the sentiment is, again, a bit corny, and in the end, it just reminds me that my parents still haven’t plugged in the DVD player I gave them fifteen years ago. After that, Rise rises and finally stays there – “What’s Done Is Done” is another solid Accept rocker, and the album closes on one of it’s highest points with “Race To Extinction.”
Produced by Andy Sneap, like the four before it, The Rise Of Chaos is shiny and big and punchy and crisp. I’d expect no less from either him or from the band – and I’d (ahem) accept no less, as well. Hoffmann and Lulis’ guitars sound huge, and Tornillo is in fine form, screaming his guts out throughout the entire affair. New drummer Christopher Williams also fits in brilliantly, filling the drum throne vacated by longtime member Stefan “the second Stefan” Schwarzmann without (again ahem) missing a beat. Whatever stumbles occur through The Rise Of Chaos, make neither of these mistakes: No stumbles are total dealbreakers – the album is strong, just not as strong as what came before – and any stumbles that come are simply because the material isn’t quite as effective, and not a technical or performance concern.
The last three Accept records have found places high atop my best-of lists for their respective years. I’d expect to see The Rise Of Chaos on my 2017 list, but I can’t say it will place quite as highly as its elder brethren. Still, in the time I’ve had it, it hasn’t left my player, and while I’m making predictions, I don’t see that happening any time soon either…