Monday 4 January 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Accept, "Too Mean To Die"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 15/01/2021
Label: Nuclear Blast

“Too Mean To Die” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Zombie Apocalypse
2. Too Mean To Die
3. Overnight Sensation
4. No Ones Master
5. The Undertaker
6. Sucks To Be You
7. Symphony Of Pain
8. The Best Is Yet To Come
9. How Do We Sleep
10. Not My Problem
11. Samson And Delilah

The Review:

Accept are back in 2020 with another polished album of stainless steel. Wolf Hoffman is now the sole original member, but is very ably assisted by Mark Tornillo- now well established as the band's modern era front man, but not by Peter Baltes on bass as he has departed the band for, presumably, retirement.

Baltes was a consistent figure for the band and a big part of their live show, but the band here are great. The info sheet does not feature the names of the band members nor production and engineering credits, sadly.

It certainly sounds like an Andy Sneap production as the opener “Zombie Apocalypse” roars out from the starting gate. This sounds like... modern day Accept. That headbanging tempo and those agile riffs are in place and carry the opener admirably- as they do the title track. It's pleasing that the band have gone for the throat here. If “Blind Rage” promised much metal mayhem with its title but actually delivered a rather measured hard rock/metal album, then this one delivers on the promise made by the title. It's closer to “The Rise of Chaos” or “Stalingrad” in style and approach.

From there, the album delivers what fans will want from the band; AC/DC style hard rock, melodic but up tempo trad metal and the harder tracks that fans such as I crave- in the style of the two openers here. It's artfully crafted, with the flow of tracks maintaining a nice dynamic. The songs are memorable and hooky with plenty of Accept trademarks in there as well- the backing vocals and strong riffs are ever present. If advance single “The Undertaker” was a little too hard rock or Spinal Tap for you, don't worry- there are nine other tracks that are nothing like it here. I like that track, though, and enjoy the dark hard rock style.

While there may be nothing here as dark or aggressive as some of the material on “Restless and Wild”, the band know what they do well: big metal songs with catchy choruses and superlative guitar playing. Whether it be the chugging of “Sucks To Be You” or the overtly metallic “Symphony of Pain”, this is prime Accept material. As I've stated in the past, I love Tornillo as the front man; his voice is excellent yet again here. I truly think that the band have now as many great albums in the Tornillo era as they did with the iconic Udo. That takes nothing away from “Breaker”, “Restless and Wild”, “Balls to The Wall” and “Metal Heart”- they are all classics- but other albums left a little to be desired. Even “Objection Overruled” was a little flawed and front loaded.

As is the case with Accept records of the modern era, there is a ballad- “The Best Is Yet To Come” fills that niche here. It's a good one, not overdone (I seem to be in a minority with my dislike of “Shadow Soldiers” on “Stalingrad”) and it acts as a good 'circuit break' from the more vicious material on offer here. It's a hopeful and rather charming track.

The album features eleven tracks total. It throws a couple of curveballs out too... The aforementioned ballad is one and the instrumental closer “Samson and Delilah” is another. I really enjoyed hearing that to finish the album off. It's a welcome move- not that there is anything wrong with “How Do We Sleep”, which is a rather introspective track, or the pedal to the metal “Not My Problem”- which I almost expected to be the last track when I heard it! It's nice to hear the band trying something different and offering up a moody coda to this muscular album.

Where this record will sit in the pantheon of Accept classics is not entirely clear after only a handful of listens. Of the latter day records, I rate “Stalingrad” at the top with “Blood of Nations” just below. “Rise of Chaos” comes next for me and then “Blind Rage” (which IS a quality album, just too restrained for my tastes). Based on the qualities and styles of those albums, I see “Too Mean To Die” sitting at least in the middle of that pack.  It may be the case that it does nothing new, but so what? It sounds committed and vital with plenty of enthusiasm. With Accept having now been around for over forty years and there won't be too many more records, so this is as welcome and familiar as an old friend. It's exactly what I want from the band- an album as tough and polished as steel with a sharp edge.

“Too Mean to Die” is available HERE

Band info: facebook