Frank Thoms: Vocals / Guitar
René Schütz: Guitar
Frank Kimpel: Bass
Olli Fechner: Drums
Since they began flying the flag for German thrash in the 80s ACCUSER have gone on to prove themselves one of the most enduring forces in global metal. With eleven full-lengths behind them they return in 2020 with their latest masterwork, a blistering self-titled collection that captures everything that makes the band so vital and manages to sound fresh. "You stay fresh through curiosity," states vocalist/guitarist Frank Thoms. "Writing new songs keeps you fresh, and it is always exciting how things develop and how the listener reacts to them afterwards. This process never gets boring. It is always exciting and invites you to try new things." The result is a dynamic album that is very much rooted in thrash but still takes the listener through various moods and styles, further cementing ACCUSER's status as leaders, not followers.
The return of lead guitarist René Schütz to the band's ranks, who appeared on multiple ACCUSER records prior to 2011, only served to up the ante on Accuser. "We are very, very happy to have him back in the band and as you will be able to hear, his leads are definitely over the top. From my perspective he is one of the very, very few thrash metal guitarists who are able to combine technique and feeling in a proper way." With writing for the new record commencing as soon as 2018's The Mastery was completed, Thoms pushed himself until he was in "100% concentration mode", knowing he is on the right path when he forgets his daily routine and normal life falls away. With no structure or plan envisaged, the songs came together naturally, as they always have. "The Accuser sound is in our DNA, and at the end of the day it is our own blend of thrash metal. To be honest, that's what I like best during the process of making a record, seeing how the music develops and how the album is taking shape." The shape Accuser took is definitely versatile, and perhaps sounds simpler than it actually is. "We managed to make well thought-out songs sound simple. Crazy things don't seem like a disturbance or a foreign body. In addition, we have inconspicuously processed various genres of metal. Ultimately, we just tried to offer the essence of the band, the groove from Repent (1992), the riffs in the veins of Who Dominates Who (1989), plus structures that could be found on first album The Conviction (1987) and stylistics that could be from Reflections (1994) or Taken By The Throat (1995), everything put together in catchy songs."
The combination of these elements that shout back to earlier ACCUSER releases - without repeating or copying themselves - alongside the return of Schütz, led Thoms to believe this album "must be called Accuser". Coming from multiple directions when it comes to lyrics, Thoms is in part influenced by hardcore punk, though "not necessarily in a 'Fuck the System' attitude but in criticising political structures and calling out injustices." With such strong music it was important that the lyrics on Accuser dig as deeply, and the frontman has not let fans down. "Seven Lives" focuses on the fact that "An attempt is being made to regulate coexistence but unfortunately, there are the same rules for different people. This is where the regulatory system begins to crumble, as justice without individuality cannot create equilibrium. On the other hand, the judiciary should not be for sale, so that privileged persons receive special treatment," while "Temple Of All" speaks of a temple in which one can turn to every deity, and to every faith. "Through the transparency of the different religions, all directions become entangled in total contradictions and the human being stands alone in the end, which feels very relieving for him."
To produce the record, the band turned once more to longtime collaborator Martin Buchwalter, who has worked on five ACCUSER albums, and it was mastered by Dan Swanö. "Martin has become a good friend to us over the years and knows how to transport our music, and it was great having him work with René for the first time. We had a lot of fun but it was also the most exhausting album we ever recorded. We thought the fast parts would kill us but it was the slow parts that took more time. The singing was very exhausting, I had no voice after being in the studio for three weeks." Ask Thoms if he's proud of any songs in particular and he answers enthusiastically. "Yes, I like "Temple Of All", the music supports the lyrics, while "Rethink" is a fast song with an unexpected ending and "Phantom Graves" goes straight to the ear. There are so many surprises. I think every song has its own characteristic." Despite the fact any hopes of touring in 2020 have been all but completely obliterated by the Coronavirus pandemic the frontman still sees reason to be optimistic about the state of the band. "We're just glad René is back and that we were able to record the album before the pandemic, and hopefully we'll have a good year of touring in 2021. Even though concerts won't be happening this year we're just happy that the listener still has the opportunity to hear the new Accuser at home."