Guitarist Wolf Hoffmann Comments on Our Selection of 7 Accept Deep Cuts You Must Hear

German heavy metal icons Accept are one of the most unique bands in the genre. Throughout the course of their career they have released albums that spanned majestic metal anthems to darker social critiques, many of them initially inspired by the Cold War tensions of the times.

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The group meshed guitarist Wolf Hoffman’s classical influences with thunderous riffs, ominous chants, and, throughout their first two decades, Udo Dirkschneider’s distinctively growling and screeching vocals. Beyond their musical acumen, they had another great asset: their lyricist Gaby Hauke (aka Deaffy), who was also their manager for over three decades. She penned some truly memorable and thoughtful lines on albums from Balls to the Wall (1983) through Predator (1996).

After Dirkschneider split from the band for a few years for a solo career—they brought in singer David Reece for one album, Eat the Heat in 1989—Accept reunited as a quartet for three albums in the mid-1990s. After that, Dirkschneider went back to his solo work, and the group mostly lay dormant again between 1999 and 2009. That’s when Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes brought back guitarist Herman Frank and drummer Stefan Schwarzmann and enlisted former T.T. Quick singer Mark Tornillo, who has the powerful pipes to handle the vocal responsibilities. Reborn with new musical vigor, Accept has experienced a resurgence since 2010 with their Blind Rage album in 2014 becoming their first No. 1 album in their native Germany.

Accept’s new album “Humanoid” is due out April 26 and hearkens back to their classic sound with such cuts as “Frankenstein” and “Ravages of Time.” Longtime fans will appreciate the old school vibes.

Many American metal fans know Accept anthems like “Balls to the Wall” and “Midnight Mover,” but there is far more to their catalog, as the following list attests. American Songwriter contacted Hoffmann, now the sole original member in the group, to get his thoughts on the following seven deep cuts we recommend music fans check out.

“Neon Nights,” from Restless and Wild (1982)

This moody, six-minute epic from their fourth album was longer than most of their previous songs. “I think that was one of the songs where I dared to come out of the shadows a little bit as a guitar player,” Hoffmann tells American Songwriter. “First, [there’s] the intro with the unusual guitar pedal sounds that I use, then there’s this somewhat intricate middle section and the long end solo. It’s got more of an experimental, progressive vibe than some of the other songs that we do. Progressive is probably not the right word, but it’s not your typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo. It’s got a lot more parts to it.”

“Winter Dreams,” from Balls to the Wall (1983)

This acoustic- and electric guitar-driven song is more a freedom song than a love ballad. It feels like it’s from the perspective of a newly freed political prisoner, which ties in with a lot of the album’s lyrics about oppressed groups.

“It’s just a romantic song,” Hoffmann said of “Winter Dreams.” “It’s got this melancholy vibe to it, just showing our softer side. We always had this love for these tender moments and these almost ballad-type moments. It’s always been one of my things—I always prefer to have these little nuances in our music. I like metal, I like aggressive stuff. But when it’s all on, like everything on 11, every song start to finish, then I think you’re missing out on something. Having those songs like ‘Winter Dreams’ or having moody intros adds a little dynamic that is desperately needed sometimes in metal music. If it’s just full on, right in your face all the time, then it’s just one color, isn’t it?”

“Teach Us to Survive,” from Metal Heart (1985)

This is an unusual entry in the Accept continuum. It’s moody and jazzy, with a swing feel akin to ‘60s classic rock combined with that ‘80s metal chug. Baltes’ eight-string bass work is a standout here, and the mellow, finger-snapping break is fun. This track came about because through various industry channels the German rockers heard that there was an American movie called The Teacher being made, and the producers were looking for soundtrack material. The proposed movie seems to have disappeared, but this track endures.

“We came up with this spy-music vibe which we had a ball recording because it’s quite different from what we normally do,” Hoffmann explains. “We used slightly different instruments like brushes instead of drumsticks and really twangy guitar sounds. We found it a lot of fun to record.”

“Stand Tight,” from Russian Roulette (1986)

Exploring military dehumanization—which referred both to prisoners of war and soldiers training under a harsh sergeant—this closing cut to the band’s seventh album possesses an intense, oppressive feeling to it, complete with army grunts and bombastic chants (Stand tight – all right). It’s one of Accept’s big anti-war anthems, and has effective verses without a traditional rhyme scheme.

“The whole Russian Roulette album had this militarism theme to it,” Hoffmann recalled. “The album cover was definitely [us in] Russian military costumes there, but on stage it was basically just fantasy stuff, military-looking uniforms and things. That was something we really enjoyed back then, just to have a theme and have something to have to talk about.”

“Just Be My Own,” from Objection Overruled (1993)

After several years apart, the classic Accept lineup returned as a four-piece. Objection Overruled is among their best works and arguably is their best album, released at a time when classic metal was not cool in the American mainstream. “Just By My Own” is a majestic, emotional instrumental that invokes Hoffmann’s classical roots and feels like a trial run for his two classical-themed albums released in 1997 and 2016.

“I’ve always liked the challenge of writing an instrumental song because it’s quite difficult to do,’ Hoffmann said. “It’s not as easy as you think because it can get quite boring. If your only voice is the guitar, you’ve got to really work with nuances or different sounds to keep it interesting. If you think about the human voice, just singing different lyrics in the verses changes it up, changes everything, and you understand the words and then that colors everything. But when you don’t have that and your only voice is the guitar, then that’s a real challenge to have a three- or four-minute piece of music and not get boring.”

“Crossroads,” from Predator (1996)

On their final album with Dirkschneider, Accept combined their classic sound with some modern elements. Bassist Peter Baltes even sang lead on three tracks and shared vocals on this cut with their lead singer. The song has a strong mid-tempo groove with heavy riffs that give way to slower, grandiose choruses. The structure is not typical A-B-A-B-C-type stuff either. Hoffmann admitted this is one track he has revisited less.

“I never listen to these old albums, but I should probably listen to them a bit more,” he said. “I have a habit of never even touching them because it’s a thing of the past. I’m more focused on what’s going on now. I’m already thinking ahead for next year, so I never really have the time or the desire to go back and listen to all this old stuff, to be honest. But I’m glad you and our fans do.”

“Time Machine,” from Blood of the Nations (2010)

This is a bonus track from their reunion album of sorts, with Mark Tornillo taking over vocal duties. He and Hoffmann have been the only constant members in the lineup since. This atmospheric, mid-tempo song focuses less on heavy riffing and more on dynamics and open space.

“I don’t think we’re ever really going for a specific vibe with these regular metal songs,” Hoffmann assessed. “The songs like that develop themselves almost when you’re writing and recording this stuff. You never really have this grand vision beforehand. Even with complete albums … you’re as surprised as the listener to what it became. I have a little arsenal of go-to sounds that I use all the time, and one of them is a Strat going through a specific Marshall that I have. It is almost like a twangy, slightly distorted crunch sound that sets it apart a little bit. It just gives it a different color, and I think I use that a lot on this song.”

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