Did Accept invent speed metal with “Fast as a Shark” on Restless and Wild?


Wolf Hoffmann asserts that Accept wrote the first speed metal song ever with “Fast as a Shark” from Restless and Wild way back in 1982. While the debate rages across the internet, now the equivalent of 1980s daytime television, the question can be answered by looking to what speed metal is.

Speed metal — as distinct from thrash a genre popularized by Thrasher magazine devotees and skaters making hardcore/metal crossover such as Dirty Rotten Imbeciles and Cryptic Slaughter — originated in the use of a single technique: the muted strummed downpicked power chord. This technique combined the repetitive downpicking of punk with palm muting, previously used only to emphasize specific notes. Much of its appeal came from the changes in amplification and production since the previous decade which allowed louder music to exist. Much like the 1980s itself, the muted strum conveyed a sound of clashing absolutes and decreased the amount of harmony heard in each chord, making the music more purely percussive like techno and early industrial. Even more, it gained the volume punks had always aspired to with its explosive and uncompromising sound. In the process, it inspired more use of accidentals leading to more chromatic fills, which in the next generation with death metal became a form of riffs themselves, where speed metal relied more on the NWOBHM song form and harmony.

Generally regarded as starting in 1983 with Metallica Kill ‘Em All, speed metal presented a radically new sound which had precursors in extreme (for the time) bands like Motorhead, Judas Priest, Blitzkrieg, Tank and Satan. However, no bands had fully adopted the new technique as the basis of their composition until the early cluster of Metallica, Exodus, Mercyful Fate, Nuclear Assault, Anthrax and Megadeth. During the 1980s these bands were the most extreme metal that most people could find in their local record stores, which were how most people got music back then, with the exception of Slayer which was a speed/death hybrid and Venom which was a punk-influenced form of NWOBHM. Accept does not measure up to this standard on the basis of technique, since its song fits within older heavy metal format and does not use the muted strum.

This statement does not decrease the importance of Accept in the creation of speed metal. A long line of innovations occurred leading to speed metal, starting with the incredibly rough sound of Motorhead in 1976 but aided by progressive bands like King Crimson and Greenslade as well as a chain of punk acts who pushed the envelope such as Discharge, The Exploited, Amebix and the Cro-Mags. Below you can hear “Fast as a Shark” and see this heritage for yourself, contrasted with the archetypal speed metal song, “Creeping Death” from the second Metallica work Ride the Lightning and Blitzkrieg’s self-titled track from their 1981 EP Buried and Alive.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

13 thoughts on “Did Accept invent speed metal with “Fast as a Shark” on Restless and Wild?”

  1. dfnhsfajg says:

    “Accept does not measure up to this standard on the basis of technique, since its song fits within older heavy metal format and does not use the muted strum.”

    The song clearly does rely on a muted strum in the main riff (which is not that different from Metallica’s Whiplash). What’s lacking is the downward-picking that gives Metallica riffs their characteristic ‘chug’. Even with this in mind though, the song has about the same claim to having invented Speed Metal as Judas Priest (see the song Exciter) or Venom.

    The opening riff of that Blitzkrieg track is also not a million miles away from the opening of Hocus Pocus by Focus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4ouPGGLI6Q

    Metallica really is where it begins, not just for the palm-muting and aggression, but the transforming of the bridge section into a major structural feature (four horsemen), not just 8-16 bars of pentatonic guitar solo wankery.

  2. Rotten Ralph says:

    Anyone know what the best album from Tank is?

    1. Throbbing Veiny Delicious Cock says:

      Their best album is Tank – This Means War. Their debut album is too much Motorhead influenced and their fourth is a tad hard rockish. This Means War is more streamlined NWOBHM and the heaviest of them all.

    2. ODB says:

      My favourite is Honour And Blood. Some like Filth Hounds Of Hades more; it’s nastier and a closer cousin of Motorhead but Honour And Blood has far more memorable, heroic-sounding songs.

      This Holocaust song anticipated much of what Metallica would do two years later. Played slower than Metallica but the phrasing and strumming technique were well in place. Gary Lettice even sounds like young Hetfield.

  3. dddddd says:

    Motorhead and Judas Priest (Stained Class and certain songs on Sin After Sin) started it. Maybe it could even be taken back to Deep Purple’s Speed King and Black Sabbath’s Symptom of the Universe.

  4. Dismember your Member says:

    Let me add my analysis

    The origins of Speed metal/thrash metal
    Can be traced in Songs like
    Highway Star- deep purple
    Symptom of the universe-black sabbath ( your chugga chugga riffs)
    Motörhead – Bite the bullet/overkill
    Discharge- the final bloodbath
    And there might many more but these are that comes to my mind
    And to me
    The fast tremolo type of riffs in songs like
    Metallica – whiplash/metal militia
    Slayer – black magic/fight till death/show no mercy / final command
    Megadeth-rattle head
    Kreator – Flag of hate
    Death – evil dead
    And many more
    Owes to this song
    Witching hour by Venom , I don’t think there was anything like this song in the metal world during that time

    Regarding Motörhead, Lemmy himself thinks they are just a heavily distorted rock n roll band Playing music influenced by Chuck Berry/little Richard / bill Haley etc
    Many influential metal bands growing up in those era loved the bands highly agressive and distorted sound , nobody mentioned Lemmys distorted bass playing that defied traditional bass sounds and role. In fact his bass acts like a guitar …
    Take the song Overkill …
    The first thing that you hear is the double bass attack which prior before there were many progressive rock and jazz bands that used double bass drumming but in this song itself it plays a major role …
    I don’t think you will find this in any HC songs or HC bands in that era,
    And double bass drums are essential to death metal …

    1. dddddd says:

      “Regarding Motörhead, Lemmy himself thinks they are just a heavily distorted rock n roll band Playing music influenced by Chuck Berry/little Richard / bill Haley etc”

      Yeah, but he’s wrong ;)

      Maybe The Fall could claim they aren’t doing anything Chuck Berry didn’t do, but Motorhead were a whole nother ballgame. But Lemmy just sees heavy metal as “a new word for rock n’ roll.” It’s a generational distinction for him, more than a musical one

  5. JCS says:

    Absolutely hear the lead riff from Hocus Pocus in Blitzkrieg, good ear!

  6. thisoneheredude says:

    Chances are that Mr. Hoffman was using the common vernacular definition of “speed metal,” which is basically just fast heavy metal. Most people who make a distinction between “speed metal” and “thrash metal” often seem to have a hard time defining speed metal and how it is different from heavy and “thrash” metal in a manner that is not completely nebulous, or without simply providing examples of each and little or no explanation.

    1. Throbbing Veiny Delicious Cock says:

      Your right dude. People that use the definitions ¨thrash¨ for Metallica, Exodus and ¨crossover¨ for DRI, Excel, believe that ¨speed metal¨ is a whole new genre somewhat in between heavy metal and thrash metal which is annoying because no one can really pin point a group of bands that play that kind of ¨speed metal¨; what they do is, they point to individual songs from some albums or a particular album from a band that´d later move on to power metal territory or Metallica/Exodus Speed Metal emulation.

      To them, speed metal bands would be: first Exciter, Running Wild, Warhead, first Agent Steel, Helloween’s first EP, Acid (Belgium), Tyrant (Germany), some Anvil, some songs from Accept, some songs from Judas Priest’s Painkiller.

      In short, anything that’s fast paced punkish NWOBHM is considered by them as ¨speed metal¨. It’s an in-between style. And if you disagree, well then you’re a clueless Aspic warrior that probably reads too much ANUS.com. and you’re probably a virgin too with no friends.

  7. Throbbing Veiny Delicious Cock says:

    I bet no one on this site has even heard of Acid, Tyrant or Warhead.
    Cuz I’m über-kvlt and you are alls jealous of my massive meat rod.

  8. Chrom says:

    Judas Priest – Exciter is the only correct answer.

Comments are closed.

Classic reviews: