Accept – “Too Mean To Die” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Change is no stranger to these Teutonic titans, and indeed, in recent years Accept have seen the loss of bassist Peter Baltes, who was in the band 42 years (!!), leaving guitarist Wolf Hoffmann as the last original member of one of Germany’s most loved metal acts. Wasting no time whatsoever, Hoffmann, who has also been successfully forging a solo career as a neoclassical metal artist, recruited new bassist Martin Motnik (Lucifer (live), Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons Band) but more boldly, expanded Accept into a sextet with the additional of a third guitarist in Philip Shouse, who of course has been a touring member of the band. As such, the guitar sound on this 16th album is nothing short of immense, from a thick rhythm to plenty of breaks and searing solos with loads of aggressive chainsaw riffing moments that older fans from the days of “Restless And Wild” will naturally latch onto and appreciate. Completed by Mark Tornillo’s shredding ‘n’ screaming vocals, that over the course of time have fitted themselves into the classic Accept mould, the early sound is once again brought home by Christopher Williams’ energetic drumming, and not in the least, his pounding double bass work making this 16th album, not just Accept in style and sound, but heralding a new chapter in the band’s history. Best of all, the 11 tracks draw from all eras of the band, so like I said, old fans will feel on familiar ground while newer listeners to the earlier material from the band will now have this to appreciate and embrace in their own songs of today. Grabbing you immediately through a hugely catchy epic melody on ‘No Ones Master’, the spiralling guitar work takes hold of your heart while still retaining its aggression in the background (remember, three guitars) as Tornillo’s passionate vocals raises the blood pressure on building into a classic Accept singalong chorus – and don’t even mention the triple guitar harmony solo – wow! Pumping in the heavy bass on ‘The Undertaker’, Tornillo’s moody tones build the dark atmosphere before a moving Wacken certified Germanic ‘who-oa’ chorus adds its weight to this brooding number in building to a massive headbanging passage – while brilliantly offset by Hoffman’s neoclassical melodies in places – proving once again why Accept still reign supreme at the top of the game. Indeed, as the Teutonic melodies bedazzle on ‘Symphony Of Pain’, the combination of raw heavy riffs, Williams’ pistoning kickdrums and Tornillo’s power screams bring a gargantuan sound and truly classical feel touched off superbly by more neo classical brilliance – it’s epic man, truly epic!! More than renowned for their ballads, ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ shines that glory once more through the combination of deep acoustic and electric guitar work while not forgetting Tornillo’s stirring tones in building to the emotionally overloaded, if still powering, chorus while the nitro fuelled energy of Not My Problem’ echoes as much sass as sear through its chainsaw riffing, relentless cymbal smashing and Tornillo’s ceaseless screaming along with a hint of rock ‘n’ roll harking back to his TT Quick days. Ending in the exotic instrumental of ‘Samson And Delilah’, that of course features tons of tantalising axe work backed by Williams’ bombastic percussion, Accept close off brilliantly with a mini-concerto that actually impresses more than its technicality in going beyond to wrap the listener in its spell bounding eastern melodies befitting the wilds of Salome….superb. “Too Mean To Die” may have been originally titled as a statement against the pandemic, but Accept fans will probably know that its meaning is a whole lot more to Wolf Hoffmann….