Throughout Metal history there have been many times when the links to classical music has been emphasised – whether by documentary, covering songs or incorporating it into the musical style; like in Symphonic Metal or the guitar riff of Accept’s ‘Metal Heart’ falling into ‘Fur Elise’. Metallica made a further statement on this with their live album S & M, which saw them tour with a full orchestra to enhance their music live. Since then bands such as Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon have done similar things. Though, perhaps it was a long time coming, but Accept has always made the most sense to offer up their orchestral set and they finally did for Wacken 2017. Whilst Accept’s guitarist and founder, Wolf Hoffmann, had himself recently released his second send up to classical music as seen through Metal with Headbanger’s Symphony in 2016. Perhaps this live album was a long time coming.
Featuring three parts to really showcase their talents, Symphonic Terror – Live At Wacken 2017 begins with Accept playing some new tracks amongst their back catalogue. Here it allows the band to set the tone and get the crowd moving. You can hear the sense in which the music really makes its mark, but in the grand scheme of things the album feels as if it puts its focus on what’s to come. Part 2 sees Wolf Hoffmann joining the orchestra to perform many of those classical tracks from his solo works. Including such tracks as ‘Night on Bald Mountain’, ‘Scherzo’ and ‘Symphony No. 40 In G Minor’; this part of the performance takes that epic step up with the orchestra but delivering the meaty and fast punches of Heavy Metal guitars. The arrangements are catchy and hard hitting and the audience are evidently swept up in the darkness inherent in these tracks. It’s surprising as well as fitting that these genres would work so well together and that Wolf Hoffmann is able to bring them out so well before a live audience.
By now Accept, the Orchestra and the crowd have no doubt warmed up as the final part brings it all together. Accept then go on to perform with the orchestra some of their classic songs like ‘Stalingrad’, ‘Dark Side of My Heart’, ‘Metal Heart’ and ‘Balls to the Wall’ and, as it did with Metallica’s S & M, the arrangements really push each other. The symphony bringing the sound to the epic levels of classical whilst the groovy speed of the guitar riffs of Metal are still present but all the more energetic because of the build-up. Hearing it on record, somewhat, takes from the experience.
There is a sense of what is there but amidst the chaos of live performances being made to scrutinise by a live album, rather than having the atmosphere of being there live. This can often plague many live albums and Symphonic Terror – Live at Wacken 2017 gives a good impression of the immense live tour that they had with the orchestra but still suffers from the levels and chaos of live albums. Strangely enough this may work a lot better on DVD, where the strength of the visuals and the sheer enjoyment of both crowds and musicians pairs up to really push forward the stunning elements of the performance. Fortunately one such DVD is in the works and they’ve been teasing it along with the live record for some time now. So for those who weren’t there, the music is a great send up but we also have live footage to be amazed at.