Accept - Teutonic Stalwart Metal
By: Matt Coe
Geeky teenage metal fanboy story: Back in my early discovery years, I read about Germany’s Accept in one of my first magazine purchases of 1984, Circus magazine. Luckily the record store manager in my home town willingly special ordered a lot of requests, so I immediately put down a deposit to receive Restless and Wild as well as Balls to the Wall. From there, I became hooked on Accept’s brand of fiery, traditional metal with classical nuances.
Fast forward to 2010, and Blood of the Nations obliterates all expectations for a metal comeback from a veteran outfit. It was my album of the year that year- so to say the follow up Stalingrad was eagerly anticipated to these ears is an understatement. Once again, Wolf Hoffmann and the guys hit it out of the park, mixing up the tempos with engaging melodies as only they can.
In anticipation of a killer tour package with fellow countrymen Kreator in North America this fall, I took the opportunity to chat with Hoffmann. His friendly demeanor made this quick talk easy to take in…
Blistering.com: Stalingrad hit the streets rather quickly after your incredible Blood of the Nations effort in 2010. Did you write a lot of material on the road during down time, or did you have material in reserve to speed up the process?
Wolf Hoffmann: Neither actually- we started fresh in the fall when we started to make this album. We didn’t have a lick really recorded or written when we started. We just sat down and it came out in a matter of a few months.
Blistering.com: Melody plays an important part in Accept’s music - vocally and musically. Is it a difficult process to capture the right feel and keep things fresh through the years?
Hoffmann: Yes. It can be incredibly difficult sometimes and at other times it can be incredibly easy. It’s different every time - some songs sort of just snap themselves together and are meant to happen that way and other times we have to go over a certain song again and again and again until they feel right. As long as you are aware of what is a good song and what isn’t a good song, it’s all good. But it doesn’t get easier through the years because of mainly all the material you’ve already written. You want to stay within that focus of what you are known for and as a result you want to get better at things. You have several challenges there to meet. It’s always fun though - I like being challenged.
Blistering.com: Now Andy Sneap your producer, back when you were recording the Blood of the Nations record, he had you go back to listen to some of the older Accept records to make sure you were critical of the new material being of the same standards. Do you think this was very helpful and important to the success of that album?
Hoffmann: It certainly was back then, because he reminded us of what he felt were the most important aspects of the Accept sound - the big backing vocals and the other German elements as he called it. He would say, “Well, this is what I think is really Accept right here” and we were really going, “That bit? Oh really… okay!” Something that as a writer you may not really be that aware of, once you talked it out it was sort of easy to look at that guideline right there. Not so much on this new album, because we already knew what we wanted because Blood of the Nations worked out really well for us - it was a little easier in that regard to do this.
Blistering.com: Some of the topics on Stalingrad that Mark handles the lyrics for are a continuation of the war themes that Accept have liked to cover through the years. Can you let us know a little bit about what was covered with a few of the songs on the record?
Hoffmann: Yes, some of the songs, like for instance the title track, it was one of the very first songs we wrote and set the kind of direction we wanted to take. It talks about the turning point, World War II, Stalingrad - the story of two soldiers on the battlefield, but more on a personal level than rather a purely historical level. Once we got that out of the way, we figured lets cover some other stories in those categories. “Hellfire” for instance, is about the firebombing of Dresden, it was also a very catastrophic event of huge proportions. It was a dramatic story to be told - we kind of left it at that, we didn’t want to go through all of the world disasters and make a concept album about that. We wrote whatever else came to mind after that - we have a song called “The Galley” for instance that is about a slaveship galley, sort of musically inspired and that can be the inspiration sometimes to develop the lyrics with a certain theme. We got inspired by this sort of chain gang, slave ship mentality and the song wrote itself, Mark put all the lyrics together for that.