Balls to the Wall

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Balls to the Wall
Accept - Balls to the Wall.jpg
Studio album by Accept
Released 5 December 1983 (1983-12-05)
Recorded July–August 1983
Studio Dierks Studios, Cologne, Germany
Genre Heavy metal
Length 45:13
Label RCA (Germany)
Portrait (US)
Producer Accept
Accept chronology
Restless and Wild
(1982)
Balls to the Wall
(1983)
Metal Heart
(1985)
Singles from Balls to the Wall
  1. "Balls to the Wall" / "Losing More Than You've Ever Had"
    Released: April 1984
  2. "Love Child" / "London Leatherboys"
    Released: 1984 (promo only)

Balls to the Wall is the fifth studio album by German heavy metal band Accept. European label Lark Records released the album in December 1983, but its United States release was delayed until a month later in January 1984 as to not compete with the band's then-current album Restless and Wild, which had arrived in the US in early 1983. It is Accept's only record to attain Gold certification in the US.[1] The album's title track became Accept's signature tune and remains a metal anthem and trademark in the genre.

Album information[edit]

Some of the album's success can no doubt be attributed to the publicity generated from the minor "gay metal" controversy that broke out upon its American release, due to the record's title and front cover being deemed by some as homoerotic, as well as the lyrics to "London Leatherboys" and "Love Child" appearing to concern homosexuals.[2] Guitarist Wolf Hoffmann was dismissive of the controversy, saying years later that "You Americans are so uptight about this. In Europe it was never a big deal...we just wanted to be controversial and different and touch on these touchy subjects, because it gave us good press and it worked fabulously, you know".[3] Drummer Stefan Kaufmann explained that many of the themes on the album were about oppressed minorities in general. "London Leatherboys" was really about bikers, for example: "They're normal people, they just look different and they behave different. But they're normal people, another minority. And 'Love Child' was about gays, true, but it's basically about people who are suppressed."[2] Concerning the homosexuality issues themselves, Kaufmann said in an interview with French magazine Enfer (n°7, 1983):

"It's a phenomenon that should be taken into consideration. Because it exists on a wide scale and should be demystified. In fact, this is a phenomenon of society that needs to be taken as such. For a long time gay people have been considered as sick or insane. And yet, it's time to respect these people, open our minds which are often closed."[4]

Hoffman's wife, lyricist Gaby Hauke also denied these controversies and accusations concerning the gay issue:

"Let me answer this and (the next) question in one, ok? I have been very rebellious and by no means I would have written anything 'normal'! Never! The sexual question about the context of certain lyrics are mind games and pure interpretation from outsiders. This is a band who has as individuals -so little to do with controversy and absolutely nothing in particular with anything but being VERY straight"[5]

The front cover is strikingly similar to photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's work "Patrice, N.Y.C." from 1977, although Mapplethorpe isn't mentioned among the credits ("Cover idea: Deaffy with special thanks to A. Janowiak").

This album was the only Accept album which guitarist Herman Frank played on until 2010's Blood of the Nations (though he was given credit on 1982's Restless and Wild).

Professional wrestler Chris Jericho's band, Fozzy, did their own cover of the song "Balls to the Wall".[2] The Swedish band Amon Amarth also covered the song as a bonus track for their 2011 album Surtur Rising.

Release[edit]

There are two different remasters of this album. The first one is part of Sony's The Metal Masters Series while the second one is part of the BMG Remastered Edition. Both editions feature songs taken from the live EP Kaizoku-Ban.

The 2013 release from UK record label Hear No Evil Recordings contains the 1990 live album Staying a Life.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[6]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal10/10[7]
Sputnikmusic4/5 stars[8]
The Metal Crypt5/5 stars[9]

Balls to the Wall received very positive reviews and was praised by Accept's contemporaries and successors. Ty Tabor of the American hard rock band King's X, was a fan of the album and its production, saying that it "set a new bar for what heavy rock could sound like on a record".[7] Both Doro Pesch of Warlock[10] and Kai Hansen of Helloween[11] were fans of the band and consider Accept among their main musical influences. The Swedish power metal band HammerFall said they recorded their album Renegade in 2000 with Michael Wagener because they had Balls to the Wall in mind.[9] HammerFall also covered the song "Head Over Heels" with Accept's ex-lead vocalist, Udo Dirkschneider, on the 2008 album Masterpieces.

Canadian critic Martin Popoff liked the complexity of the lyrics combined with the clean and restrained riffing, which give the album "subtle sophistication" and a "singular purpose".[7] He put Balls to the Wall at No. 1 of his Top 100 Heavy Metal Albums of the '80s list.[7] Eduardo Rivadavia of AllMusic refers to it as an "essential heavy metal album", only "slightly more melodic" and "less gritty" than Restless and Wild and considers the title track "an irresistible, fist-pumping masterpiece that came to epitomize the modern, slow-marching metal anthem as it became known."[6] Sputnikmusic contributor Eduard Pickman Derby enjoyed the versatility of "explosive front-man" Udo's vocals, as well as the "simple, heavy and fist pumping" riffs of Hoffmann and Frank's guitars, which made Balls to the Wall "an excellent metal record".[8] Finally, the album "is simply pure heavy metal", with "no weak tracks" and a masterpiece for Pierre Bégin of the online magazine The Metal Crypt.[9]

Balls to the Wall was Accept's first album to chart in the United States, where it peaked at number 74 on the Billboard 200, making it the band's highest chart position in that country for over 30 years until the release of Blind Rage in 2014.[12] It was also the band's first album to chart in Germany, where it peaked at number 59.[13]

Track listings[edit]

All lyrics written by Accept and Deaffy; all music composed by Accept.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Balls to the Wall"5:45
2."London Leatherboys"3:57
3."Fight It Back"3:30
4."Head Over Heels"4:19
5."Losing More Than You've Ever Had"5:04
Side two
No.TitleLength
6."Love Child"3:35
7."Turn Me On"5:12
8."Losers and Winners"4:19
9."Guardian of the Night"4:25
10."Winterdreams"4:45

Personnel[edit]

Band members
Production
  • Louis Austin – engineer
  • Michael Wagener – mixing
  • Jean Lessenich – design
  • Dieter Eikelpoth – photos
  • Gaby "Deaffy" Hauke – management, cover idea
  • Published by Breeze Music Gmbh/Oktave Alfred K. Schacht Musikverlage, Hamburg

Charts[edit]

Chart Peak
position
Canadian Albums (RPM100)[14] 43
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[15] 59
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[16] 10
US Billboard 200[17] 74

Certifications[edit]

Country Organization Year Sales
USA RIAA 1990 Gold (+ 500,000)[1]
Canada CRIA 1985 Gold (+ 50,000)[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for albums by Accept". Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Popoff, Martin. "Accept - Balls to the Wall". Martin Popoff.com. Archived from the original on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  3. ^ "Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffmann". Full in Bloom.com. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  4. ^ Original quote in French: « C'est une chanson qui traite de l'homosexualité. C'est un phénomène qu'il faut prendre en considération; car il existe à une grande échelle et il faut démystifier. En fait c'est un phénomène de société qu'il est nécessaire de prendre comme tel. Pendant longtemps les homosexuels ont été considérés comme des fous et des malades. Or il est temps de respecter ces gens là, d'ouvrir nos esprits qui sont souvent obtus ». Touchard Philippe, "Interview avec Stefan kaufmann", Enfer magazine, n°7, 1983, p. 9. Archives of Enfer Magazine issues and of the said interview can be found here: [1]
  5. ^ Schlared, Joe (December 2004). "Gaby Hoffmann December 15-21 2004". Schlared.com. Archived from the original on December 29, 2004. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Accept - Balls to the Wall review". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d Popoff, Martin (1 November 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 978-1894959315.
  8. ^ a b Pickman Derby, Edward (1 October 2008). "Accept - Balls to the Wall". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  9. ^ a b c Bègin, Pierre (29 September 2001). "Accept - Balls to the Wall". The Metal Crypt.com. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Warlock via Inferno". Metal Attack (in French) (23): 28–31. 22 July 1985.
  11. ^ Francisco, Michael (9 October 2008). "Interview - Gamma Ray". Metal Covenant.com. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Accept - Awards". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  13. ^ musicline.de / PhonoNet GmbH. "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche". musicline.de. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  14. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 40, No. 4, March 31, 1984". Library and Archives Canada. 31 March 1984. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Officialcharts.de – Accept – Balls To The Wall". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Accept – Balls To The Wall". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Balls to the Wall Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Gold Platinum Search for Accept". Music Canada. Retrieved 31 January 2013.