Concert Review: Kreator, Accept

Walking into the venue for Kreator and Accept, there was a feeling that washed over the entire experience. To quote Henry Rollins, it felt like “another Saturday night in old Deutschland.” There was everything one would expect from a tour trumpeting two of Germany’s most prominent and standard-bearing thrash bands; high-speed metal revival, fans who haven’t had a haircut since the Berlin Wall came down, and very few women. Fewer than normal at a metal show, and that’s saying something.

All of that makes it sound like Teutonic Terror Tour 2012 is a failure, but the exact opposite is true. As Accept took the stage, there were feelings in evidence that are equally as uncommon at metal shows. Most of the fans were smiling or laughing, seeing old friends for the first time in years, getting along and not taking part in the all-too-common tough-guy-posturing that our genre is stippled with. Everyone on this Saturday evening seemed ready for the show to start, not as a grand catharsis, but as a way to genuinely enjoy a heavy metal night out.

Contrary to the common axiom, Accept seems to be living under the idea that what’s new can be old again. On its face, the evidence was obvious. For starters, they were rocking tracks from their newest record “Stalingrad,” itself a reference to a city that hasn’t been officially called that in over fifty years. There were choreographed guitar theatrics like no one this side of Judas Priest attempts in the modern era, rousing sing-alongs one right after another, and a well-defined and long-lasting circle pit.

Here’s the thing; it worked. All of it. Not because Accept wishes to peddle exclusively in nostalgia (see: Steel Panther,) but because the band is simply doing what still works for them, striving to put on a good show for their fans. There is a pervasive sense of honesty about all of Accept’s stage show, and no one seems to be having a better time than the band themselves. The crowd fed off that energy, as hundreds of heads bobbed in unison, a few people fist-banged, and there was clapping whenever the performers asked for it.

The age of the material was irrelevant to both the band and the audience, as Accept played both their new hits like “Hung, Drawn and Quartered,” and their necessary standbys like “Balls to the Wall” with equal fervor and talent. Much to the band’s credit, they played each and every track on their setlist as though it was their last song of the night, relishing each moment that the crowd gave them.

Mark Tornillo is an admirable frontman and singer, confident in his talent and steadfast in his ability to control the crowd. While there are those who certainly pine wistfully for Udo Dirkschneider, it’s important to remember that we are farther removed from Udo regularly singing for Accept as his last studio effort with the band (1996) was from the Bears winning the Super Bowl. So, in steps Tornillo, whose gravelly roar is impressively powerful from the beginning of the set to the end, whether a thoroughly enjoyable and crowd pleasing “Losers and Winners” or a thundering “Metal Heart.” With him at the helm, Accept couldn’t miss.

Kreator followed, and brought a bigger stage show with them, complete with climbable set pieces, banners and an array of lights. As they came out under cover of darkness and fog to the opening strains of “Mars Mantra” and then crushed into “Phantom Antichrist,” Kreator’s presence was foreboding and dire; all qualities that fans have come to expect.

Kreator’s bullet train continued unimpeded for a selection of opening tracks, rumbling through the massive “Enemy of God” and “From Flood Into Fire.” The band was sharp, and the texture of their sound was remarkably good, the crunchy acuity of their guitars piercing the hall and the bodies of concert goers alike.

As the set wore on, so to did Kreator. The band rocked nearly ceaselessly through seventeen cuts, pausing only occasionally to bask in the adulation of the assembled masses. Yet, starting halfway through their set and continuing to its end, Kreator seemed more apt to pick their spots.

While the band whipped the crowd into a fury for “Extreme Aggression,” the tide was allowed to recede for follow-up “People of the Lie.” The energy was dialed back up for new cut “Death to the World” and the powerhouse “Coma of Souls,” but then fell away for the more mechanical “Pleasure to Kill.” This ebb and flow continued for the remainder, and just when it seemed that Kreator was beginning to lose the crowd’s fixated attention (I saw some watch-checking,) Mille Petrozza got everyone stirred up one last time for a bombastic recital of “Flag of Hate” and “Tormentor.”

While Kreator has, in my opinion, released the superior album in 2012, it was Accept that better rose to the occasion on this night, making each of their cuts come alive through a mix of determination, talent and attitude. Either way, if you’ve never seen either of these bands, or at least haven’t seen them since The Cold War ended, this is the tour to do it.

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