By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
If you were to ask bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Alice in Chains, Pantera, Anthrax, Helloween, or Guns N’ Roses to name their influences, the most common answer among them would be Accept. The German metal machine are an important part of the speed and thrash metal scene as they helped develop the sound. Since 1976, they have been tearing down the musical walls. Their biggest hit was 1983’s Balls to the Wall, where original lead singer Udo Dirkschneider punched out the German competition with his baritone voice. Since reforming for a third time in 2009 with frontman Mark Tornillo, Accept has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and critical acclaim in both Germany and the States, starting with 2010’s Blood of the Nations. They have now returned with even meaner album, Too Mean To Die. Armed with two new members, they are out to prove they are still rebels: restless and wild!
Album #16 starts with “Zombie Apocalypse.” This skull-crushing tune tackles the subject of society staring at their phones while wandering around aimlessly like zombies. Accept drives in the nail to the tiny screens. Tornillo is extremely sharp at the tongue with his vocals, while Uwe Lulis and newcomer Philip Shouse are tight with their swift riffs. “Too Mean to Die” has a tempo that is faster and heavier than the first. It is full of hostile attitude as Tornillo is looking to kick ass and not apologize for it. Lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann is a maestro with his solo, highlighting his legendary skills. He may be the sole original member left, but he still knows how to split eardrums in half. “Overnight Sensation” is more laid-back, but nowhere near easygoing. The main riff is down and dirty, and catchy as hell. Drummer Christopher Williams attacks the snares with durable punches, while bassist Martin Motnik strengthens the beat with his striking of the chords. Replacing founding member Peter Baltes is big, but Motnik and Accept fit together like a glove. “No One’s Master” is a reminder that the media’s purpose today is to spread fear and fatten their wallets. Tornillo will have none of that as you can hear the anger in his voice. Lulis and Shouse riff together a vicious lick while Hoffmann screeches and wails with his solo. With this tune, I head bang with a purpose for I loathe the media.
In “The Undertaker,” Motnik fills the atmosphere with a spooky beat as Tornillo gets sludgy with his vocal approach. The obscurity surrounding the song is so prevailing as I enjoyed hearing Hoffmann’s slow burning solo. No matter how fast you are, death is coming, and the Undertaker is here to collect. “Sucks to Be You” is a straight-forward hard rock song that is very pleasurable to hear. There is nothing too special about it as it sounds a bit stale at times, but it is appealing enough for any Accept fan to get behind. I found “Symphony of Pain” to be a future classic for the group. It is like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony turned up to 11. This song reeks of neo-classical riffs thanks to Hoffmann’s vibrant licks that are layered nicely with the main riff. Williams whammies away on the double bass kick with astounding dynamism. Accept enters the power-ballad realm with “The Best Yet to Come.” I never thought Too Mean To Die would have this type of tune, but it is so fucking good. The verse is gentle, but it builds up the chorus very well as the solo is white hot. Tornillo is known for his toughness, so it is refreshing to hear him full of emotion.
“How Do We Sleep” is another traditional metal tune that features this eerie choir chanting “Ooh.” The riff is mighty as Hoffmann, Shouse, and Lulis gel together effectively. Tornillo again engages the lyrics with snarling justice. “Not My Problem” is a shot of adrenaline fans have been aching for after the last two songs. Hoffmann quenches our thirst for meaty, thrashy riffs that are destructive. Combative all the way through, Accept is not ready to throw in the towel as this song gets their heart as well as mine pumping. We close out the album “Samson and Delilah.” This tune is entirely instrumental, and it is smoking hot. You can hear the different elements Accept has adopted over the years and the chemistry is explosive. Hoffmann is a tornado that blows away the listeners with his searing riffs. Labeled as their own personal “Ode to Joy,” this is an epic finale.
After 45 years together, Accept is a prime example that with age, you do not get mellower but meaner. Too Mean To Die is a champion effort for the veteran outfit. I feel that it a much better record compared to 2017’s The Rise Of Chaos because the songwriting was much tighter and the addition of new blood into the group revitalized their mean streak. Tornillo and Hoffmann together are a recipe for metal aggression. COVID-19 be damned, they are too mean to die. To Accept, I salute you. Horns up, and balls to the wall!!!
Too Mean to Die
No Ones Master
Sucks to Be You
Symphony of Pain
The Best Is Yet to Come
How Do We Sleep
Not My Problem
Samson and Delilah
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