This week, on Metal Jeopardy…
Mud: “I’ll take Bands That Got Me Into Heavy Metal for 500, Alex.”
Alex: “Which semi-obscure classic heavy metal band played a huge role in your formative years as a metal head?”
Let’s face it, we all have that one band. Sure, I listened to all the metal gods growing up: Maiden, Priest, Sabbath, etc; but there was another band I had an obsessive appreciation for, one that didn’t belong on such a lofty pedestal–yet I put them right up there.
That band was Teutonic metal pioneers Accept.
When I was but a wee lad, I heard AC/DC on the radio, and my life changed forever. I would not be a fan of heavy rock, or even music, had it not been for the Thunder from Down Under. While it was Maiden who introduced me to the metal genre, after hearing an extended 12-minute live version of hit single “Balls to the Wall” on a late-nite heavy metal radio show, I knew I had a new favourite band.
Going from AC/DC to Accept wasn’t a huge leap. Not only are their albums side-by-side in my alphabetically-arranged music collection, but there are certain sonic similarities as well; Udo Dirkscheider pulling double duty as the sandpaper-lunged vocalist and the hyperactive midget, like Bon and Angus rolled into one little ball of hate. Accept’s first two recordings–1979’s self titled and 1980’s I’m a Rebel–are heavily influenced by the DC, albeit with much less polish than their counterparts’ Highway to Hell and Back in Black, released during that period.
It was on Breaker, their third full-length album, that Accept moved more towards a metal direction, with their following album Restless and Wild an early example of speed-metal, double-bass drumming (in ’82!) and Balls to the Wall, released in 1983, bringing the band international recognition.
They would release ten more albums in the following 25 years, including a couple live discs. The band first broke up in ’89, following the release of the Udo-less Eat the Heat, but have reunited three times; putting out three studio albums in the mid 1990s, and doing a reunion tour of Russia, Japan and the European festival circuit in 2005. Their most recent reunion has resulted in a come-back album, Blood of the Nations, which is due for a September 15th release. (I haven’t heard it yet, but I have it on pre-order…)
It’s worth noting that the new record is their first in 21 years without the legendary Udo on vocals, as the diminutive frontman has opted not to take time away from his solo career, rehashing old Accept riffs with a rotating cast of power metal musicians–and Stefan Kaufmann, drummer from the glory years on lead guitar. But in ex-TT Quick frontman Mark Tornillo, the band has found a Brian Johnson to Udo’s Bon Scott, whereas David Reece, he of Eat the Heat, was akin to replacing Bon with Gary Cherone. (I’ve seen some live clips, and Tornillo does a pretty good Udo impression…)
Naturally, with a new album comes a need to tour, and after a summer spent across the pond, the band has booked a slate of American concert dates in late September/early October. Perusing their website, I’m scratching my head, wondering if the person who booked the US dates speaks English any better than the dude who wrote their lyrics.
(Before Joe Schlared or another megafan jumps on my back, I know it’s the same person, and she’s not a dude. Simmer down, now!)
While the band is hitting NYC, Dallas, and the bustling metropolis of Baltimore, the rest of the gigs on their nine-date tour are in places that you couldn’t find on a map unless you lived nearby. Instead of Detroit, they’re playing Mt. Clemmens, Michigan. They’re playing Reading, PA instead of Pitt or Philly. And their only gig in Upstate New York isn’t Buffalo, Rochester or Albany, but Poughkeepsie. Where the fuck is Poughkeepsie!?
One date that caught my eye was October 9th, a Saturday. They’re playing St. Charles, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. The town even has its own airport. Only problem is you can’t fly into DuPage without a private plane. Less than one per cent of its arrivals are commercial flights, and there aren’t any from Toronto. (I’ve checked…) Meanwhile, O’Hare Airport is 34 miles–or a two-and-a-half-hour subway, bus and train ride away. I might go that distance to see Udo, but not for Mark Tornillo.
Baltimore on a Friday might be manageable, but I’m holding out hope that they’ll fill in those seven unscheduled dates between Mt. Clemmens and St. Charles with a gig that’s a bit closer to home. I’m not getting my hopes up for a Toronto date, but I would definitely travel to Barrie, Hamilton or Kitchener to see ’em!
(According to Myspace, they’ve added gigs in Cleveland and the bustling metropolis of Middleton, WI. I’d go to Cleveland if I have to, but I think I’ll wait and see…)
Compare this to the Sleep tour that gets underway tonite. L.A., Englewood, Colorado(!?), Philly, Chicago, Austin, Portland, with two dates each in NYC and San Fran. Something tells me they’ll sell more merch than Accept will in Sayerville(NJ), Foxboro(MA), Reading, Mt. Clemmens and Poughkeepsie! Unless that Foxboro gig’s next to Gillette Stadium on game day…
On that note, it’s seven more sleeps till Sleep for yours truly. To say I’m looking forward to seeing ’em in Portland would be an understatement.
P.S.: I’ll be spinning Sleep’s Holy Mountain in its entirety on Smokin’ Green tonite. Be sure to tune in from 1 till 3 am at 88.1 fm on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV or www.ckln.fm on yer computer!