ALBUM REVIEW: Acceptance – Wild, Free

Release Date: October 9th 2020
Label: Tooth & Nail


The release of Acceptance‘s debut record ‘Phantoms’ in 2005 eerily foreshadowed their disappearance the following year. A decade on, their apparitions reappeared onstage to rejoin the figurative opera in 2016. We’re now onto their third album, ‘Wild, Free’.

Matured by their time away, the band have polished and refined their sound, but the faces staring back from its shiny surface look quite a bit different. Anyone reconnecting with them now might think that they’ve picked up the wrong record. Synths replace 00s nostalgia to give it both a contemporary sheen and a throwback feel.

Certainly, the current 80s hype has been harnessed here, with tracks that wouldn’t look out of place on a Stranger Things soundtrack. ‘Release & Let Go’ in particular, with foreboding opening instrumentation, is reminiscent of the Netflix Original‘s iconic title sequence.

At times, things run rather dry here. As a whole, ‘Wild, Free’ makes for better ambient background music rather than a fully immersive listening experience. Tracks bleed into each other, with the only distinction being the varying degrees at which synths and bass pulse. ‘Bend The Light’ is notably dull, however, its jarring attack on the album’s momentum ironically makes it a standout.

The closing triad concludes the album with a greater sense of promise. ‘Wasted Nights’ kickstarts the end with the energy saved from the mid-section, carrying us through to the euphoric ‘June 1985’ before warming things down with the soft but satisfying closer.

It was a bold choice for Acceptance to completely reinvent themselves following their return, especially considering the cult status of ‘Phantoms’. Although this choice might not be well-received by all older fans, it is guaranteed to open them up to a whole new audience.