Review Summary: The last piece of Accept's classic era is still worth more than a listen.
1987 marked the ending for Accept's classic era, and even though a few valid releases were published between 1993 and 1996 the band's true comeback album arrived only in 2010, with new vocalist Mark Tornillo. What happened in 1987 is easy to understand, Udo Dirkschneider, the charismatic long time vocalist, left the band due to different musical ideas. It is also easy to note a shift towards a more commercial sound in some parts of Metal Heart
. That said, what is often forgotten while speaking of Accept's classic era is the band's seventh LP, Russian Roulette
. Showcasing a darker tone than its predecessor, this album is quite the underrated gem.
On paper, Russian Roulette
is standard old Accept material without doubts. Actually, it does a bit more: the seven minutes long epic-like "Heaven Is Hell", dealing with religion issues, fuels the darker tone of the album. Memorable moments like the guitar solo that explodes after the shouting of 'is it heaven or hell?' and the following atmospheric organ section give the feeling that this track would have been the best choice to name the album after.
You shouldn't kill your brother
Except if he doesn't know what's right
If he can't love your heaven
Ah, it's mercy for him to die
- Heaven Is Hell
The rest of the album, while showcasing that darker tone, is exactly what one would expect from Accept. Addictive choruses, over-the-top attitude, catchy riffing and wank-free solos are always present. One complaint would be the low mixing of the bass guitar, which could be a bit of an annoyance for those who seek strong rhythm sections, even though the drum work is far from poor (the opener's chorus would be half good without that double bass). Nevertheless, what stops Russian Roulette
from being considered on the same league of albums like Restless and Wild
and Balls to the Wall
is a simple motive: it feels a bit tired, especially in the second half.
The structure of the classic Accept rocker is well known, and it can be intuited just by listening to Dirkschneider distinctive vocals. It is no mystery that it would be hard for him to carry a chorus always on his own, and that is why gang vocals are often used by the band. It can also be intuited that there is a limited number of occasions where you can use such structures before they turn stale, and that is exactly what started to happen in Russian Roulette
, before reaching the climax during the band's last reunion with the singer.
Keeping that in mind, do not be fooled by such a talk. Russian Roulette
still shows Dirkschneider's Accept at the (almost) best of their game. A highly recommended listen to all who enjoyed listening to the band's most famous albums, and still a valid offering for anyone who is searching for some heavy metal with no frills seasoned with some tasty guitar leaks. Highlights include the infectious "Monsterman", "Aiming High", the mellower "It's Hard To Find A Way" and, obviously, "Heaven Is Hell".