I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Accept - "Too Mean to Die"
Nuclear Blast Records, 2021
11 tracks, run time: 52:11
The resurgence of Germany's ACCEPT has been one of the most welcome heavy-metal success stories of the past decade. Fans were skeptical at the idea of Accept continuing without their iconic front man Udo Dirkschneider, but the entrance of new vocalist Mark Tornillo (ex-T.T. Quick) and 2010's massive Blood of the Nations comeback album silenced the doubters and marked the beginning of a highly successful second act for the legendary Teutonic terrors. With Tornillo at the helm, Accept has slowly been climbing up my list of favorite bands thanks to recent albums like Stalingrad (2012) and The Rise of Chaos (2017). That tradition is likely to continue with their newest release, Too Mean to Die.
Too Mean to Die, released on Nuclear Blast Records in January 2021, is Accept's fifth studio album with Tornillo on vocals and despite some recent lineup shifts, it's a rock-solid mission statement that shows this veteran band is still standing tall and sounding as bad-ass as ever.
Following the departure of long time bassist Peter Baltes in 2018, lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann is now the only band member remaining from Accept's classic '80s lineup. Baltes was replaced by new four-stringer Martin Motnik and the band also added third guitarist Philip Shouse prior to recording the new album. In spite of the new players, the eleven tracks on Too Mean to Die are still immediately recognizable as Accept, maintaining their trademark loud & proud, anthemic metal sound, full of melody, hooks, and that all important heavy crunch.
Too Mean to Die kicks off with the hard hitting "Zombie Apocalypse," which may cause some eye rolling at first - "oh come on, another song about zombies?" -- but upon closer inspection of the lyrics, it's about humanity's addiction to cell phones and digital devices turning them into electronic zombies, which is a nice twist. After the defiant title track, a similar anti-tech sentiment is expressed on the snide "Overnight Sensation," which is a sarcastic dismissal of internet "influencers" and vapid celebrities like the Kardashians. Lest you think that this means the members of Accept have become bitter old men saying "get off my lawn, you damn kids!" in every song, the mid-album highlight "The Undertaker" is a sinister, meat and potatoes slow grinder that throws back to the Balls to the Wall era, complete with those classic "whooaaaa-ooohhhh-ohhhh" backing vocals. By now, even the most jaded old school fans should be raising their fists in a sign of victory.
My favorite track on the album may be the chunky, "Sucks to Be You," which has attitude and venom to spare, and leads into the epic speed metal cut "Symphony of Pain," with its distinct Restless & Wild vibe.
The band lets up on the gas pedal ever so briefly on "The Best is Yet to Come," a ballsy ballad which recalls such past Accept chill-out epics as "Princess of the Dawn" and "Winter Dreams," before they slam back into gear with the pile driving head banger "How Do We Sleep." The frantic pace of "Not My Problem" is a neck snapping delight and the classy album closing instrumental "Samson & Delilah" (a mix of pieces from an 1877 opera by Camille Saint-Saens, and an 1893 symphony by Antonin Dvorak) gives Hoffman and his mates a chance to show off their classical/metal chops.
Summing it up
Too Mean to Die has been making regular appearances in my CD player since it first arrived in late January, and it is likely to continue topping my play lists for a long time to come. Accept is the rare band that actually seems to be getting better with age, and Too Mean to Die is easily their best effort since Blood of the Nations in this fan boy's book. Yes, it's that good.
2021 has barely gotten started so it might be a little early to predict an "Album of the Year," but after only a few listens to Too Mean to Die, Accept is already a contender that will be tough to beat!
"Too Mean to Die"
© 2021 Keith Abt