The Final Chapter
CMC International Records, 1998
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/07/1998
Just as heavy metal is making a comeback, one band is saying their farewells... again.
Accept was one of, if not the, name in German heavy metal in the '80s. Led by the hoarse balls-on-barbed-wire shouts of Udo Dirkschneider, Accept slowly wormed their way into the hearts of metal fans with songs like "Metal Heart," "Balls To The Wall" and "Midnight Mover". But as the band started moving towards more melody-driven music, Dirkschneider abandoned ship and started his own band, which failed to go anywhere. Accept's fortunes, meanwhile, got worse, and the band threw in the towel in 1989, only to reunite a few years later (and eventually reteam with Dirkschneider).
But for reasons unknown to me (translation: couldn't find any reason on the fan sites I could access), Accept has finally decided that enough is enough, and have chosen to go out with a double live album for the fans, The Final Chapter. For a live album, this is good, but there are times that one wonders what all the hype was about.
There's no debating the talents of guitarist Wolf Hoffmann, though I'd question if it was necessary for him to throw in classical lines as lead breaks (at one point, he pulls out Beethoven's "Fur Elise"... which the crowd actually sings to!). Bassist Peter Baltes gets his chance to strut his stuff, but for the most part seems perfectly happy providing a solid backbeat for the band. Drum chores are split on this disc between Stefan Kaufmann and Stefan Schwarzmann.
And then there is Dirkschneider. There are times that his vocals are more like nails on a blackboard than real vocals - whatever did people hear in his performances? Be that as it may, his shrill tones are what made Accept, and it's only fitting that he be their vocalist as the final gun sounds.
The track selection on The Final Chapter truly indicates this is a present to the fans, selecting cuts from the band's whole career. The better-known songs are here ("Balls To The Wall," "Metal Heart," "London Leatherboys"), but for a fan who occasionally dabbled in their music, there are many other tracks which will tickle their taste buds as well. "I Don't Wannt Be Like You," "Bulletproof," "Stone Evil" and "Slaves To Metal" all are high points of this disc.
But there are times when it seems like the band is grapsing at straws. "Princess Of The Dawn" might have been popular judging from the crowd's response to it, but the track doesn't come over well in the translation from live show to compact disc. (Memo to my friends at CMC International: Are the words "home video" possibly in the works?) "Son Of A Bitch" is a weak throwback to the mid-'80s, when hard rock and heavy metal were challenged by the PMRC. I'm not saying this was a response to the PMRC, but if it was, it was hardly worth pumping out.
And there are times when this set seems to drag on endlessly - by the time you get to the final track "Death Row," chances are you might have lost some interest by then. Maybe if some of the instrumental noodling had been cut out of some of the tracks, it would have been more bearable. (Let's also thank Jah we weren't subjected to the dreaded "drum solo" track.)
The question has to be asked: Why now is Accept calling it quits? My guess (and it's just a guess): after almost 20 years, they might have run out of creative steam, and wanted to go out of the game without turning themselves into a caricature of who they used to be.
There still are legions of Accept fans out there; for those people, The Final Chapter will be a must-own disc. For the rest of us, it's an interesting (if not a bit overindulgent) product to listen to, and has many flashbacks of this band's glory days. But it's better taken in small doses - one disc per sitting, perhaps.