Accept was a German metal band that sounded like a cross between Judas Priest and AC/DC with a troll as lead singer who resembled an over-the-top mesh of Bon Scott and Brian Johnson.
Accept released ten studio albums during their career; most cite "Restless & Wild" (1983) and "Balls to the Wall" (1984) as their best recordings. This is true but I feel 1986's "Russian Roulette" stands on a par with these two earlier releases.
Here's a run down of the songs on "Russian Roulette:"
1.) T.V. WAR (3/5 Stars): This is an energetic and fun metal rocker reminiscent of "Fast as a Shark" but not as good.
2.) MONSTERMAN (5/5 Stars): "Monsterman" is brief at a mere 3:24, but it's catchy as heck. The bridge is melodically potent and the chorus is uniquely inspired. You'll never hear anything else like it. Who knows what the lyrics are about, who cares?
3.) RUSSIAN ROULETTE (4/5 Stars): The titular song eerily starts off with a militaristic drone and riff before kicking into a mid-paced slice of 80's non-hair-band metal. In light of the chorus one wonders why they didn't call the song "Wargames."
4.) IT'S HARD TO FIND A WAY (4.5/5 Stars): This is a catchy pop rocker with an incredibly hook-laden chorus. It should have been a hit on the radio. Some cried "Sell out!" but, come on, it's just ONE song.
5.) AIMING HIGH (3/5 Stars): This isn't a bad piece of filler between the better songs.
6.) HEAVEN IS HELL (5/5 Stars): This is the second masterpiece of the album. It's structure is very reminiscent of "Balls to the Wall," although it doesn't sound like that song. The lyrics are an intriguing commentary on religion and religious people with the conclusion that we experience (or make our own) heaven or hell during our life on this earth. I strongly agree with some of their points and disagree with others but, regardless, the lyrics are not presented in an offensive way. Here's one stanza that I wholeheartedly agree with:
I'm sure we all know them
Those perverts, they're everywhere
Mmm, we're talking straight about facts
You know deep inside what's right or wrong
And the world stinks, and the paradise is now a sewer
And they sell sh*t for gold
And you have to take what you've got
As you can see the words are honest, overt, slightly ambiguous and completely brilliant all at the same time.
7.) ANOTHER SECOND TO BE (3/5 Stars): Another brief enjoyable ditty.
8.) WALKING IN THE SHADOW (4/5 Stars): Emotionally potent and intriguing tune that deals with a person struggling to live on in face of the 58,000 that died during the Vietnam conflict. Whether the guilt is over one combat victim or all 58,000 is unclear.
9.) MAN ENOUGH TO CRY (4.5/5 Stars): Great short piece! The title somewhat reveals the mature subject matter, but the lyrics maintain an esoteric element.
10.) STAND TIGHT (5/5 Stars): This is a creative and aggressive number with a melodic bridge and ultra-catchy chorus with cool backgound vocals. It has militaristic vibe and is the third masterpiece of the album.
Some have criticized that Accept were trying to go pop rock on this album but nothing could be further from the truth. "Russian Roulette" features the same diverse song-writing of both "Restless & Wild" and "Balls to the Wall." Yeah, one or two songs would've fit well on the radio, so what?
One thing this CD proves is that Accept had perhaps the best background vocals in all of metal at the time and even to this day (!).
"Russian Roulette" is quite a bit better than the good-but-not-great "Metal Heart," which was released in 1985. The song-writing on "Metal Heart" just wasn't as good, plus Udo (the singer) went overkill with his irritating screaming, which no doubt turned off potential life-long fans. In addition, as another reviewer rightly points out, by 1986 Accept's style of metal had passed its expiration date; more extreme forms of the genre had usurped the hearts of fans. Don't get me wrong, Accept were excellent at what they did, but they refused to deviate from their basic style (nothing wrong with that -- "to thine own self be true"). Hence, when "Russian Roulette" was released the next year not many took notice. They should have.